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“The stories I want to tell are Zimbabwean stories,” the novelist and film-maker Tsitsi Dangarembga told The Independent newspaper in a recent interview. “I do find myself committed to the traumas and the struggles and the possibilities that people have here. And it makes me think about how I would waste my life if I went somewhere where I had no relevance.” Nominated for this year’s Booker Prize for her novel, This Mournable Body, Dangarembga has never been more relevant, situated at the center of a compelling, urgent cultural movement of African artists centering Africa in their work, and frequently paying the price for it. In July, just days after finding out she was on the Booker longlist, Dangarembga was arrested in Harare as part of a crackdown on anti-corruption demonstrations, sparking calls for her release from writers including Kazuo Ishiguro, Carol Ann Duffy, and Philippe Sands, the president of English PEN. The daughter of teachers at a mission school, Dangarembga spent much of her childhood in Britain, before returning to newly-independent Zimbabwe to study psychology. It was there she began to write her debut novel, Nervous Conditions, set in 1960s and ‘70s Rhodesia, eventually submitting it to The Women’s Press, the pioneering British publishing house that had published Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Nervous Conditions would go on to win the 1990 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and was named by the BBC in 2018 as one of the 100 books which have shaped the world. The Mournable Body reunites readers with Tambudzai, the central character of Nervous Conditions and its 2006 sequel, The Book of Not, only older now, her circumstances much reduced, an embodiment of the souring of Zimbabwe’s post-colonial optimism. Below are Tsitsi Dangarembga 's favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set. See the full list...
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