• ★★★☆☆

This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangarembga


This Mournable Body is a beautifully written, psychologically insightful but, for me, excruciatingly uncomfortable story.

The main character, Tambudzai, is trying to prove herself in Harare and forget the village homestead she grew up in. The trouble is that Tambu is deeply unlikeable: from the very start when she witnesses a sexual assault on a bus, through her bitterness, pride and snobbery it’s clear that this is a deeply flawed character. But it’s written in the second person, putting you, the reader, in the shoes of this sour, selfish woman.


It’s clever and it’s skilful, and I suppose if I were braver it would be an amazingly route to empathy, but I’m afraid it just made me defensive and distressed. The critical consensus is that This Mournable Body is a masterpiece, but be sure to go into it ready to be bracingly challenged and with your sense of self intact!

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