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Nervøse tilstande (1988)

af Tsitsi Dangarembga

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Serier: Nervous Conditions (1)

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1,697337,781 (3.93)250
This stunning first novel, set in colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s, centers on the coming of age of a teenage girl, Tambu, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her rural village, especially the circumscribed lives of the women, thinks her dreams have come true when her wealthy uncle offers to sponsor her education. But she soon learns that the education she receives at his mission school comes with a price. At theschool she meets the worldly and rebellious Nyasha, who is chafing under her father's authority. Raised in England, Nyasha is so much a stranger among her own people that she can no longer speak her native language. Tambu can only watch as her cousin, caught between two cultures, pays the full cost of alienation.… (mere)
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8. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
introduction: Kwame Anthony Appiah (2004)
published: 1988
format: 217-page paperback
acquired: December
read: Feb 14-28
time reading: 9 hr 17 min, 2.6 min/page
rating: 4½
locations: 1960’s Zimbabwe
about the author: born 1959 in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)

I read this as part of my effort to read the 2020 BookerLong List, which includes [This Mournable Body]. That novel is part of a trilogy that includes this, [Nervous Conditions] (1988), and [The Book of Not] (2006). I plan to read the trilogy.

[Nervous Conditions] is considered one of the most important African books, with a theme on the limits of women in Africa. I was expecting dark disturbing stuff, and this was reinforced by the first line. The book opens, “I was not sorry when my brother died.” But "disturbing" is not the first thing on a readers mind while reading. More like "fascinating".

This novel captures a childhood world in 1960's rural Zimbabwe, where life depends on crops and a local river provides key necessities. And then it shows this child's view of education in a Protestant mission in a city. The novel rings with cultural clashes—rural vs urban, uneducated vs educated, and, especially, cultural customs and westernization. And it looks at the variations of privilege, sexism, and racism and the unexpected stresses these bring up. This was a terrific read. Recommended.

2021
https://www.librarything.com/topic/328037#7443819 ( )
1 stem dchaikin | Mar 5, 2021 |
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga is considered fictional but in fact is based on the author’s own life growing up in the then-called Rhodesia, Originally published in 1988, the book concentrates on the challenges faced by women in a country where they are far from equal to their male counterparts. The main character, Tambu, is an intelligent young girl growing up on a rural homestead but is only given an opportunity for higher education after the death of her older brother.

The first third of the book shows how her brother, as the only male child in her immediate family, received the most attention and privileges. As he is sent to missionary school, he learns to embrace western culture and shuns their own ways. When Tambu is given the same opportunity, her mother fears that she will lose her daughter in the same manner and indeed, Tambu does grow and change as she is educated and experiences the wider world. Tambu’s life is guided and controlled by the head of her extended family, her uncle, Babamukuru. As she goes to live with him and his family, she learns to see through the front that he projects to the actual man he is, flaws and all.

During Tambu’s growing years, her country’s change is on the horizon and although not much is mentioned in the book about political and social upheavals, we are given a front seat to observe how African women were slowly absorbing the transformations that were occurring. Nervous Conditions was an absorbing and interesting book showing from a woman’s perspective, Rhodesia under Colonial rule and how education could lift one from a primitive lifestyle of poverty and give them a greater understanding of their place in society. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 15, 2020 |
This was a wonderful find. [[Dangarembga]] is an author on the current Booker longlist and her book, [The Mournable Body] caught my eye. On further research I found it's the third in a series of novels focusing on a 13 year old girl, Tambu, growing up in 1960s Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). So I started at the beginning with [Nervous Conditions].

Tambu is growing up in poverty, but in an obviously beautiful setting, loving the river by her homestead. Her father can't afford to send her to the local school (her brother gets to go instead), and she begins to realize before she's even a teenager that her life as a girl will be different than a boy's. Tambu decides to earn her own money to pay her way at school. Then her brother dies while he's away at school at a nearby mission. Tambu's educated and relatively wealthy Uncle, who is headmaster at a mission school, takes Tambu in and she gets the opportunity to go to school.

There are many themes explored in this book, but I'd say the focus is Tambu's path as a woman and her relationships with other women - her mother who is living a traditional and stifling role as an African mother, her aunt who has a Masters from her time in England but in Africa is no more than her husband's wife and caregiver, and her cousin Nyasha who was raised in England and is now deeply confused about who she is. Through these relationships we see different but similar challenges that women face in Africa, but also see that many are similar to sexism in other cultures as well.

Dangarembga's writing is excellent. The novel has an autobiographical feel and tons of detail about life in Rhodesia. There are local foods, customs, naming systems, and descriptions of the land that are not described for American readers, but you can figure out from context or a quick google search. I liked that it wasn't dumbed down or written specifically for non-African readers. It was different to reading someone like, say, [[Adichie]] (though I love her writing as well!). I saw in a bio of Dangarembga that she was the first Black woman in Zimbabwe to publish a novel in English.

I highly recommend this book. I've already bought the second book, [The Book of Not], and will read [This Mournable Body] as well.

Original publication date: 1989
Author’s nationality: Zimbabwean
Original language: English
Length: 224 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/where I acquired the book: purchased kindle edition
Why I read this: from the booker list, 1001 books ( )
1 stem japaul22 | Aug 4, 2020 |
Read. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 8, 2020 |
As an adult recalling her childhood, Tambudzai remembers spending most of her formative years constantly questioning the right action to take, not only as a representative of her Rhodesian culture, but as a woman in a male dominated society. It is the 1960s and her missionary uncle has given her the opportunity to attend his school. He is the provider, the all-powerful headmaster, capable of shaping Tambu's future or tearing it down on a whim. She recalls enduring endless lectures from him, nagging reminders of how lucky she was to be given the opportunity for mental emancipation. She wouldn't have gotten the chance had his first choice, her brother, not died. Indeed, as soon as Tambu entered his household Tambu began to learn new things: how to hold a fork, the proper way to use a toilet, take a bath, or shut out a light. She endures a love-hate relationship with her cousin, a girl with the same restless desires to break free of societal trappings.
Favorite line, "Her seriousness changed from sweet, soft dove into something more like a wasp" (p 101). ( )
  SeriousGrace | Apr 20, 2020 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (1 mulig)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Tsitsi Dangarembgaprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Appiah, Kwame AnthonyIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Carlsson, IrjaOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Cillario, GraziellaOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Galle, ÉtienneOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Henny, HelenOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Olcina, EmiliOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Plenge, VagnOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Ponkala, LeilaOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Trojanow, IlijaOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Vittorio, Claudia diOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
צוקרמן, אמירOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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This stunning first novel, set in colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s, centers on the coming of age of a teenage girl, Tambu, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her rural village, especially the circumscribed lives of the women, thinks her dreams have come true when her wealthy uncle offers to sponsor her education. But she soon learns that the education she receives at his mission school comes with a price. At theschool she meets the worldly and rebellious Nyasha, who is chafing under her father's authority. Raised in England, Nyasha is so much a stranger among her own people that she can no longer speak her native language. Tambu can only watch as her cousin, caught between two cultures, pays the full cost of alienation.

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