Drinking from Graveyard Wells: Stories

Drinking from Graveyard Wells: Stories

by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu
Drinking from Graveyard Wells: Stories

Drinking from Graveyard Wells: Stories

by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu


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"Even in death, who has ownership over Black women's bodies?"

Questions like this lurk between the lines of this stunning collection of stories that engage with African women's histories, both personal and generational. Their history is not just one thing: there is heartbreak and pain, and joy, and flying and magic, so much magic. An avenging spirit takes on the patriarchy from beyond the grave. An immigrant woman undergoes a naturalization ceremony in an imagined American state that demands that immigrants pay a toll of the thing they love the most. A first-generation Zimbabwean-American woman haunted by generational trauma is willing to pay the ultimate price to take her pain away—giving up her memories. A neighborhood gossip wakes up to find that houses are mysteriously vanishing in the night. A shapeshifting freedom fighter leaves a legacy of resistance to her granddaughter.

In Drinking from Graveyard Wells, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu assembles poignantly reflective stories that center the voices of African women charting their own Black history through the ages. Ndlovu's stories play with genre, from softly surreal to deeply fantastical. Each narrative is wrapped in the literary eloquence and tradition of southern African mythology, transporting readers into the lives of African women who have fought across space and time to be seen.

Drawing on her own early experiences as a Zimbabwean living under the Mugabe dictatorship, Ndlovu's stories are grounded in truth and empathy. Ndlovu boldly offers up alternative interpretations of a past and a present that speculates upon the everyday lives of a people disregarded. Her words explore the erasure of African women while highlighting their beauty and limitless magic. Immersed in worlds both fantastical and familiar, readers find themselves walking alongside these women, grieving their pain, and celebrating their joy, all against the textured backdrop of Zimbabwe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813196978
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 03/07/2023
Series: University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose Series
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 453,657
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean sarungano and an MFA student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst who received her BA from Cornell University. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Tin House Workshop, Bread Loaf Writers Workshop, and the New York State Summer Writers Institute.

Table of Contents

1. Red Cloth, White Giraffe
2. Second Place Is the First Loser
3. Home Became a Thing with Thorns
4. The Carnivore's Lollipop
5. Swimming with Crocodiles
6. Ugly Hamsters: A Triptych
7. Plumtree: True Stories
8. The Friendship Bench
9. Water Bites Back
10. Turtle Heart
11. The Soul Would Have No Rainbow
12. Three Deaths and The Ocean of Time
13. When Death Comes to Find You
14. Drinking from Graveyard Wells

What People are Saying About This

Lisa Williams

"Lyrical, spirited, and surprising, like the book's title (Drinking From Graveyard Wells), Yvette Lisa Ndlovu's stories enchant us, from their sentence sounds to their prickly impassioned characters and narratives reimagining Zimbabwean myth and wit. We encounter "naturalization priests" who demand great sacrifice for their blessing, ancestors who exercise madly after death to transfer good fortune to future generations, a father and daughter on different sides of a different sort of "friendship bench" (or is it so very different?)—and more. With astonishing wit, Ndlovu asks us to look hard at the intricate, intersecting burdens of lives past and present, local and global, so we can confront what is always—but not obviously—here. I have not felt so unsettled and so engaged by a group of stories in a long time."

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