by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Nervous Conditions is a novel about the coming of age of its narrator, Tambudzai. The oldest daughter of a native Shona family living in the British colony of Rhodesia in the 1960s, Tambudzai is intent on getting an education and developing her independence. To do so, she must overcome the autocratic authority exercised by the men in her family and the racism and patriarchy of the colonial culture. Much of her growth comes through her relationships with four womenher mother, whose life is one of neglect and deprivation; her two aunts, who experience mistreatment from the men in their lives; and her cousin Nyasha, who rebels against her oppressive father.
Dangarembga, a novelist and playwright, was born in Mutoko, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). She was educated at Cambridge where she studied medicine and psychology. After becoming a successful writer, she entered the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Academie in Berlin. Nervous Conditions, the first book published in English by a black Zimbabwean woman, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Neria, published in 1992, was made into a film and became the highest grossing film in Zimbabwean history.