This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga shortlisted for the $50,000 St Francis College Literary Prize
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Tsitsi Dangarembga’s latest novel This Mournable Body has been shortlisted for the 2019 St Francis College Literary Prize.

The biennial prize is given to mid-career authors for their third to fifth work of fiction and the winner will receive $50,000 (R764,370) at a prestigious award ceremony in Brooklyn, New York.

The shortlist was recently announced on Twitter:

With her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, Dangarembga became the first black Zimbabwean woman to publish a novel in English. The Book of Not, published in 2006, continues the story and This Mournable Body completes the trilogy, 30 years later.

In This Mournable Body, Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival.

Nervous Conditions won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1989 and was included on the BBC’s list of “100 stories that shaped the world” in 2018.

Earlier this year, Dangarembga was the curator of the African Book Festival in Berlin. She told DW that her debut had almost no traction in Zimbabwe and that This Mournable Body had almost not seen the light of day.

Read the article:

Nervous Conditions didn’t get any traction in Zimbabwe,’ the author said. ‘I have always been writing against power and that’s why things don’t always happen.’

It took three decades for her trilogy of books, based on the main character of Nervous Conditions, to be completed. The sequel to Nervous Conditions, titled The Book of Not, came out in 2006; the third one, This Mournable Body was just published in 2018.

That novel almost didn’t see the light of day. ‘It had been rejected by different publishers and at some point I was so desperate I started posting extracts on Facebook,’ Dangarembga revealed at the opening panel of the African Book Festival. Fortunately, the novelist’s digital SOS was spotted by the reputed editor and literary critic Ellah Wakatama Allfrey — also a guest at the festival’s opening panel, along with author Olumide Popoola— and she got the book published.

This Mournable Body was praised by The New York Times Book Review as a ‘masterpiece’, while Kirkus Reviews described it as a ‘haunting, incisive, and timely glimpse into how misogyny and class strife shape life in post-colonial Zimbabwe’.


Categories Africa Fiction International South Africa

Tags Awards Jacana Media Nervous Conditions News St. Francis College Literary Prize The Book of Not This Mournable Body Tsitsi Dangarembga Zimbabwe

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