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Titles By Bessie Head
Maru Sep 1, 2013
Read worldwide for her wisdom, authenticity, and skillful prose, South African–born Bessie Head (1937–1986) offers a moving and magical tale of an orphaned girl, Margaret Cadmore, who goes to teach in a remote village in Botswana where her own people are kept as slaves. Her presence polarizes a community that does not see her people as human, and condemns her to the lonely life of an outcast. In the love story and intrigue that follows, Head brilliantly combines a portrait of loneliness with a rich affirmation of the mystery and spirituality of life. The core of this otherworldly, rhapsodic work is a plot about racial injustice and prejudice with a lesson in how traditional intolerance may render whole sections of a society untouchable.
When Rain Clouds Gather Oct 1, 2013
Rural Botswana is the backdrop for When Rain Clouds Gather, the first novel published by one of Africa’s leading woman writers in English, Bessie Head (1937–1986). Inspired by her own traumatic life experiences as an outcast in Apartheid South African society and as a refugee living at the Bamangwato Development Association Farm in Botswana, Head’s tough and telling classic work is set in the poverty-stricken village of Golema Mmidi, a haven to exiles. A South African political refugee and an Englishman join forces to revolutionize the villagers’ traditional farming methods, but their task is fraught with hazards as the pressures of tradition, opposition from the local chief, and the unrelenting climate threaten to divide and devastate the fragile community. Head’s layered, compelling story confronts the complexities of such topics as social and political change, conflict between science and traditional ways, tribalism, the role of traditional African chiefs, religion, race relations, and male–female relations.
Regarded today as one of Africa’s best-known woman writers in English, Head draws on the rich oral tradition of southern Africa and masterfully applies storytelling’s language and imagery. Carefully sequenced, the anthology gives special focus to village people from independence-era Botswana and the status, position, and plight of African women.
Other Formats: Paperback
A Question of Power Mar 7, 2017
In this fast-paced, semi-autobiographical novel, Head exposes the complicated life of Elizabeth, whose reality is intermingled with nightmarish dreams and hallucinations. Like the author, Elizabeth was conceived out-of-wedlock; her mother was white and her father black—a union outlawed in apartheid South Africa. Elizabeth eventually leaves with her young son to live in Botswana, a country less oppressed by colonial domination, where she finds stability for herself and her son by working on an experimental farm. As readers grow to know Elizabeth, they experience the inner chaos that threatens her stability, and her constant struggle to emerge from the torment of her dreams. There she is plagued by two men, Sello and Dan, who represent complex notions of politics, sex, religion, individuality, and the blurred line between good and evil. Elizabeth’s troubling but amazing roller-coaster ride ends in an unfettered discovery.
Other Formats: Paperback