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Nervous Conditions [Import] Paperback – October 10, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0954702335 ISBN-10: 0954702336 Edition: 2nd

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tambu, an adolescent living in colonial Rhodesia of the '60s, seizes the opportunity to leave her rural community to study at the missionary school run by her wealthy, British-educated uncle. With an uncanny and often critical self-awareness, Tambu narrates this skillful first novel by a Zimbabwe native. Like many heroes of the bildungsroman, Tambu, in addition to excelling at her curriculum, slowly reaches some painful conclusions--about her family, her proscribed role as a woman, and the inherent evils of colonization. Tambu often thinks of her mother, "who suffered from being female and poor and uneducated and black so stoically." Yet, she and her cousin, Nyasha, move increasingly farther away from their cultural heritage. At a funeral in her native village, Tambu admires the mourning of the women, "shrill, sharp, shiny, needles of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out." In many ways, this novel becomes Tambu's keening--a resonant, eloquent tribute to the women in her life, and to their losses.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Nervous Conditions is an absorbing page-turner that will delight the reader. --Bloomsbury Review

Dangarembga's characters are fascinating, and the issue of freedom is examined dispassionately and firmly. A unique and valuable book. --Booklist

From the first days of its publication, it was obvious that Nervous Conditions had the makings of a classic: a timeless coming-of-age tale, great lyrical narrative, unforgettable characters, and courageous. Sixteen years down the line, this notion has been amply confirmed. --Ama Ata Aidoo

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Lynne Rienner Publishers; 2 edition (October 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954702336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954702335
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tsitsi Dangarembga lived and studied in both England and Germany before returning to her native Zimbabwe. She is not only a novelist and playwright, but also a noted film director. She currently is working on the third novel in the trilogy that began with Nervous Conditions and continues in The Book of Not.

Customer Reviews

This is a very interesting story and it keeps you flipping the pages till the end.
I also liked the importance of food and the role it played throughout the novel, especially at the end with Nyasha's rebellion.
The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
All the characters of this novel have determination and overcome difficult obstacles.
Rose Quintanilla

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Thabo Makeleni on January 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've always considered myself to be very understanding of women, especially women of the same stature and situation as the female characters of the book, but the book did expand my understanding of their condition. When I read the book I saw my mother who grew up in South Africa under situations similar to Tambu's. Although Tambu manages to rise from her condition with something on her hands, an education that is, most of these women get cought on the situation and they never escape it. I could relate to the book because I've seen how women are expected to conform to a male dominated community where they are not expected to question the men in their lives. As I've lived and am still living in modern South Africa for my whole 19 years I've seen and still see the Nyasha's that have to deal with the same men as in the book and still expected to be modern women. I found the book to be very true of the African women's situation and saw a reflection of somebody I know in Jeremiah. Here is a man who had to live in his brothers shadow for all his life. He is poor and lazy, and the only thing that he knows he has control over are the women in his life. I am not trying to sympathise with the character but his situation on the book should be understood. As a modern African man I've learnt to treat women as equals and although that may be there still exist a group of men who can't handle the truth. Tis book will help a lot of people in understanding how women, especially in rural communities, had to live and still live in Southern Africa. A powerful book and a great asset to African literature!
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on January 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
The troubles and turmoil of life often present us with guiding burdens, mountains that not only seem but are truly impossible to climb, and boundaries put in place to check even the strongest of wills. These mountains, boulders, and impassable rivers serve as a standard, a ceiling and a foundation; created by the society in which we take our very breath. So when we find ourselves stuck in the very system that we create, who can we blame? Who can we turn to for rescuing? These are the very questions that narrator Tambudzai learns to ask in Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel NERVOUS CONDITIONS.

Throughout her young adult life, Tambudzai witnesses many cultural tendencies of her people and struggles internally with what she is being taught versus what she observes and believes to be right. Aside from her Rhodesian homeland being colonized by the British, she also wrestles with getting an education in a country where an education is seen as wasted on women. The role of men over women in this very patriarchal society serves as the backbone of NERVOUS CONDITIONS and operates as a means to compare different women's struggle to survive that cast-iron system. Through Tambudzai's eyes, readers see how her cousin Nyasha rebels against her father - the family leader, proclaimed prince, and headmaster of the school at the Mission. Readers see the difference between Tambudzai's subservient mother and her mother's defiant sister. We also see how this society treats a woman just as educated as her husband. Following Tambudzai as she progresses towards higher learning and gains a deeper understanding of the world that surrounds her, literary audiences discover just how suffocating it is to deal with the burdens of simply surviving.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Demitrio on December 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I started this book on the train to work this morning, and stayed up to finish it. The story is engaging, the main characters sympathetic. But what kept me reading was the deft folding-in of a hundred little details of Zimbabwean life and culture.
It's a consciousness-raising novel, trumpeting its themes -- feminism, colonialism, and mental illness -- more loudly and more often than the modern reader expects. But it's not naive about those themes. Colonialism, as seen here, impoverishes and distorts traditional society; but traditional society so oppresses women that their only route to power and independence is through the colonial education system.
As other reviewers have noted, this is a suitable book for teens, in that is neither obscene nor violent. More than that, it's authentic foreign literature with a heroine their age. -- Suzanne Demitrio, demitrio@hotmail.com
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Peabody on October 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
The voice of the narrator, plantive and engaging, retrospective and sensitive, is the jewel of the story. Although her lovely spirit and shrewd perspective on people/relationships propelled me through the book at a rapid pace, I found the plot quite empty. The story line, mostly founded on mundane details of her challenging daily life, feels dull and predictable. However, in spite of the lack of plot, the most important aspect of the book-- its main value to many readers-- is its thematically rich stew of commentary on gender roles/relations, sexuality, race, class, poverty, family dynamics, love, education, etc.

I gave book 3 stars because, although i fell in love with the narrator, the plot was too meandering and vacant to really make a good story. I also felt the ending, like the plot, was sort of half an ending and very lacking. In the end though, the story, themes, and the characters were so rich that they will stick with me for quite a while.

Read this book if you fulfill at least one of the following:

1) You want to read a tale that tackles intimate yet universal themes
2) You want to hear the too rarely heard voice of an african woman
3) You want a book that is poetic and academic at the same time
4) You are looking for an emotionally intricate read of personal dynamics
5) You need a speedy read for an airplane ride, book report, etc
6) You love books with insightful, shrewd observations of very real characters and family dynamics
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Nervous Conditions [Import]
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