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Bones Paperback – January 1, 1988

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his brief first novel about his native Zimbabwe, poet Hove presents a wrenching portrait of a people and a country in pain. Marita, whose only child has run away from home to become a terrorist, is devastated by her loss. Abandoning her embittered, ineffectual husband and her work in the fields of an abusive white farmer, she goes to the city to find news of her son, but the journey ends in her death at government hands. To pay for her trip, Marita had persuaded Chisaga, the farmer's cook, to steal money from his employer in return for sexual favors--never intending to keep the bargain. Chisaga, in turn, brutally rapes the young woman, Janifa, who would have been her son's bride, seeing Janifa as Marita's heir because she was given Marita's kitchen utensils ("the things of her womanhood"). Janifa then finds her own freedom in insanity. The unusual, elliptical voices of the characters reflect both Hove's poetic gifts and his attempt to convey a feeling of the native culture and language.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Baobab Books; 2nd ed. edition (January 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0908311036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0908311033
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,561,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David Schweizer VINE VOICE on October 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I recently had the pleasure of viewing Hove on an American talk-show discussing the catastrophe unfolding in his native Zimbabwe. There were several talking-heads gathered around the table, but Hove was the only one with something to say. Curiously, the American think-tank "experts" all carried on with a misplaced optimism, which no doubt is required in academe for advancement, whereas Hove never backed down from his dire warnings of national disintegration and betrayal at the hands of the sinister Mugabe. "Bones" is a startlingly beautiful piece of prose, a work of poetically wrought rage. Like Achebe's early work, which sought to express in English the idiom of his local people, the Nigerian Igbo, Hove strives to catch the lovely idiom of the Shona. Here we find a sustained narrative of anguish told by a poet with an eye for the telling detail, free of cant, free of ideology, a disciplined voice entirely focused on human experience.
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This book begins fairly slow and dull, in rambling style, but gradually gathers strength and forms into a thick flood of intense shona idiom, filled with the humiliation of white domination in 1970's Rhodesia and the sadness of lives sacrificed during the war years.
It reveals the cultural and traditional world of the MaShona, a superstitious world of dangers, evils and spiritism. It is, ultimately, an intense meditation on hopelessness. Some reviewers have called it humorous and hopeful. I never sensed that for a moment: rather it has a dark gravity that is, nevertheless, quite gripping.
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