Nervous Conditions

“Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)

One of Nicola’s 100 best books for inspiration in the 21st century!


From the opening sentence, readers were carried along by the story of Tambu and her family, especially the other female characters in her life, namely her mother, her uncle’s wife Maiguru, her cousin Nyasha and her mother’s younger sister Lucia. They liked the authenticity of Tambu’s voice and the honesty with which she relates her very strong desire to escape the clutches of poverty and the condition of being a woman in a patriarchal society. They enjoyed the descriptions of the different settings, especially the homestead and the family gatherings with all the attendant customs, which they found vivid and made them feel like they were there. Readers liked the writing style, which they described as light-hearted but with serious undertones. A few readers said they could feel the author’s anger pervading the pages of the book. They empathised strongly with Nyasha who they felt epitomised the conflict between two cultures and ways of being, and they were moved by the outcome of her tragic story. One reader felt that the author used Nyasha’s voice to sum up the devastating effect both of colonialism on a person’s mind and of a patriarchal society on women. The book averaged an 8.5 out of 10.


One of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century
Tambudzai – Tambu for short – dreams of education, but her hopes only materialise after her brother’s death, when she goes to live with her uncle. At his mission school, her critical faculties develop rapidly, bringing her face to face with a new set of conflicts involving her uncle, his education and his family… Read more

Season 10 – “First Novels” (Sep 2009 – Jan 2010)

“The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga (India) *
“The Blood of Flowers” by Anita Amirrezvani (Iran)
“Lost City Radio” by Daniel Alarcon (Peru)
“Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe) *
“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison (U.S.)

Extra book:
“The Vagrants” by Yiyun Li (China)

* The book club favourites
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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