Today, Katharine Coldiron reviews This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga, which came out this month from Graywolf Press. Coldiron writes: “This Mournable Body is a challenge, but it’s also awe-inspiring, a depiction of trauma, deterioration, and redemption accomplished with rare potency and grit.”
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
This is a hard book. Maybe I shouldn’t start that way, but it’s the first thing I can think to say about This Mournable Body. This book is a stunning, intricately crafted work of art by a writer who possesses insight into the human condition that rivals Hemingway’s, but it is also a dense, difficult piece of literature, and it would be dishonest of me to pretend otherwise.
A Zimbabwean author who writes in English, Tsitsi Dangarembga is a highly versatile and well-lauded artist. She has directed and written multiple films, and she is the founder of both the Women’s Film Festival of Harare and the International Images Film Festival. Her first novel, Nervous Conditions, won international acclaim, including a spot on the BBC’s list of 100 stories that shaped the world. Nervous Conditions was the first of a trilogy of novels telling the story of Zimbabwe’s independence through a village woman named Tambudzai. That trilogy continues with The Book of Not and concludes with This Mournable Body.