Tsitsi Dangarembga’s groundbreaking fiction, first appearing more than thirty years ago, brings to stunning life the ongoing struggles of African women striving for agency in the face of colonial, racist, and patriarchal forces.
Across the more than three decades of her career, Tsitsi Dangarembga has emerged as one of the most significant voices in world Anglophone literature. She is the author of three award-winning and critically acclaimed works of fiction: This Mournable Body (2018), The Book of Not (2006), and Nervous Conditions (1988). The novels, collectively known as the “Tambudzai trilogy,” tell the story of a young Shona woman named Tambudzoi (“Tambu”) as she moves between worlds: that of her parents, who are impoverished subsistence farmers; and that of her relatively affluent, British-educated aunt and uncle, who run a missionary school. Stretching from late 1960s pre-independence Rhodesia to the postcolonial Zimbabwe of the 1990s, Tambu’s coming-of-age intersects with that of her country in compelling and often tragic ways. As she strives to build and sustain a meaningful adult life for herself, Tambu wonders whether the very qualities that first allowed her to imagine an existence unconstrained by systems of racism and sexism—ambition, intelligence, and a bright, seething rage—have been lost in the seeking: “When you were young and in fighting spirit, growing mealie cobs in the family field and selling them to raise money for your school fees, you were not this person you have become. When and how did it happen?” Dangarembga is also a filmmaker and serves as director of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust, executive director of Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe, and founding director of the International Images Film Festival for Women. The winner of the PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression (2021), she lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.
I have been waiting for this all my life, not always believing but constantly hoping. This award gives me space to dream.TSITSI DANGAREMBGA