In the follow up to Nervous Conditions and The Book of Not, Tambudzai has reached middle age and distress over the failure of her high level of Western education to improve her financial circumstances, a fact that leads her to reconnect with her ancestral village and family.
At times This Mournable Body is a difficult read. Tambudzai is a complex character, bitter and not particularly likable, with inner demons that threaten to derail her. But this is what makes the novel compelling—it’s unpredictable, and you can’t help but feel that Tambudzai is always about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Couple this with the complexity of Zimbabwe—political uncertainty, economic instability and a society that seems ready to attack itself—and Dangarembga has written an unflinching account of one woman’s struggles in a country that is rife with them.
Author Tsitsi Dangarembga, who lives in Zimbabwe, writes this often grim story with a great deal of wit ... Dangarembga gives us something rare: a sparkling antiheroine we find ourselves rooting for ... Tambu can be seen as a symbol as well as a character: Her striving to become prosperous amid dysfunction echoes modern Zimbabwe’s ongoing struggle to outgrow stifling corruption.
Who are the people who succeed in life? Why do they succeed? Are some people condemned to failure? It is a line of thought that brings the protagonist in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s new book, This Mournable Body, close to a point of self-destruction as she engages in a harrowing mental fight against the demons of her own poverty and failure ... This Mournable Body is a harrowing psychological journey. Dangarembga does not give her heroine any easy escapes. Like the period of Zimbabwe’s history this story is set in, the pain, false hopes and dashed enthusiasms come in large doses, and victory lies at the end of a very long road.