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Nervous Conditions

Nervous Conditions

4.0 8
by Tsitsi Dangarembga

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Immediately hailed as a classic (Atlantic Monthly called it "the best contemporary novel on colonialism to be written by an African woman"), Nervous Conditions is a wrenching chronicle of the coming of age of Tambu, a teenage girl in 1960s Rhodesia, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin, Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her


Immediately hailed as a classic (Atlantic Monthly called it "the best contemporary novel on colonialism to be written by an African woman"), Nervous Conditions is a wrenching chronicle of the coming of age of Tambu, a teenage girl in 1960s Rhodesia, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin, Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her rural village, thinks her dreams have come true when her wealthy uncle offers to sponsor her education. But education at his mission school comes with a price. There she meets sophisticated Nyasha, whose rebellion against her father brings disaster. With irony and skill, Dangarembga explores the struggle of two young women to liberate themselves in a society still suffering the effects of colonization. This edition of this highly acclaimed novel is "an expression of liberation not to be missed." — Alice Walker

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tambu, an adolescent living in colonial Rhodesia of the '60s, seizes the opportunity to leave her rural community to study at the missionary school run by her wealthy, British-educated uncle. With an uncanny and often critical self-awareness, Tambu narrates this skillful first novel by a Zimbabwe native. Like many heroes of the bildungsroman, Tambu, in addition to excelling at her curriculum, slowly reaches some painful conclusions--about her family, her proscribed role as a woman, and the inherent evils of colonization. Tambu often thinks of her mother, ``who suffered from being female and poor and uneducated and black so stoically.'' Yet, she and her cousin, Nyasha, move increasingly farther away from their cultural heritage. At a funeral in her native village, Tambu admires the mourning of the women, ``shrill, sharp, shiny, needles of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out.'' In many ways, this novel becomes Tambu's keening--a resonant, eloquent tribute to the women in her life, and to their losses. (Mar.)

Product Details

Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed

What People are Saying About This

Doris Lessing
"This is the novel we have been waiting for....I am sure it will be a classic."
Alice Walker
"Sardonic, coolly observant, splendidly detached from every form of chauvinistic nonesence, 'Nervous Conditions' introduces a new voice that, in its self-assurance, sounds, at times, very old. As if the African sisters, mothers and cousins of antiquity were, at last, beginning to reassert themselves in these perilous times, and to speak."

Meet the Author

Tsitsi Dangarembga was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. She studied medicine and psychology before turning to writing full-time and becoming the first Black woman in Zimbabwe to publish a novel in English. Nervous Conditions was the recipient of the 1989 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Fiction, the book has become a modern classic. Nervous Conditions was also chosen as one of the ‘Top Ten Books of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century’ by a Pan African Initiative in 2002. Dangarembga’s sequel to Nervous Conditions entitled The Book of Not was published in 2006 by Ayebia. In addition, she has written a play entitled She No Longer Weeps. Having studied at the German Film and Television Academy, Dangarembga now also works as a scriptwriter, consultant and film director. She is the founder of International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF). She is currently working on the third novel in the trilogy and lives in Zimbabwe.

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Nervous Conditions 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wonderful novel! Perfect for those interested in feminist, postcolonial works. Fascinating characters that expose the complexities and myths of colonization.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do you feel undermined and controlled by the people in your life? Well try stepping into Nyasha and Tambu¿s lives in Nervous Conditions. This novel takes place in Africa during the 1960¿s when women in America were challenging the gender roles that were ingrained in many societies around the world. After Tambu¿s brother dies an untimely death, she travels from her rural home to live with her uncle, the headmaster of a mission. There she develops a relationship with Nyasha, her rebellious Anglicized cousin, who cannot accept the role she is expected to fulfill. Will these young women be able to overcome and survive in their male dominated society? Read this book if you want to expand your perspective on women finding independence against all odds.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is good. everyone should read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was all right, but there wasn't anything special or that really stuck out to me. This book does show the strength of women and how they overcome challenges in a patriarchal society, but nothing really stands out. It is very confusing at times due to the style of Dangarembga--circular rather than linear. Overall, there was nothing particularly great about this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. It will chnage you for the better. I have been using it in a course on Feminist Poetics over the last few years and all of my students have been astounded by the wonders Dangarembga offers, and the challange the novel poses. Every once in a while, although not often enough perhaps, there comes a book that pierces the core of our social, cultural identity with such a convincing force that we become better human beings because of it. Nervous Conditions is such a novel, and ought to be read by any human being who loves life. The book is studded with literary gems that are cradled in a bed of cultural pathos of profound dimensions. Read it and you'll be the better thanks to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a truly amazing book! I loved it the first time I read it and I gain even more insight with subsequent readings. I believe this is a book that everyone should read, it is not only about the life of a black Rhodesian girl, but also a far larger story about politics and the meaning of human.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jean-Paul Sartre was right in his introduction to Franz Fanon's 'The Wretched of the Earth' when he wrote, 'The condition of native is a nervous condition introduced and maintained by the settler among colonized peoples WITH THEIR CONSENT [emphasis Sartre's].' Hence, the title 'Nervous Conditions.' Dangarembga demonstrates the contradiction between laying claim to and denying the human condition at the same time as Tambudzai undergoes cultural hegemony and struggles to take what she needs from Babamukuru's mission and the colonial system of education while 'discarding the rest.' The way the novel ends, however, is very abrupt and leaves the reader wondering just how much of Tambudzai's 'education' is complete. All we're told is that she began to 'question and assert herself, refusing to be brainwashed.' Still, this work ranks among Achebe's novels as powerful reminders of what colonization means for both the colonizer and the colonized.