Review: Nervous Conditions

Posted: 17/07/2015 in book reviews, books
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Nervous Conditions
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Content warnings: Mentions of promiscuity, implications of abuse, slut shaming

This is very much a book that was not written for a white audience. What do I mean by this? In most books that take place on the continent of Africa (this one is Zimbabwe) that are written for a white audience (or an audience not of that country even) words will be translated and/or explained. If someone says something in the native tongue of the country it will either be explained after it’s said, have a foot note explaining it, OR (rarely) have a glossary in the back of the book explaining. This book has none of that. But it didn’t take away from the book. I enjoyed the book in spite of not understanding a word or phrase here or there.

It was a very “hey this is how some people use to live and might still live” kind of book for me. The actual story may be made up. However, I have not a doubt in my mind that some of the things in this book that happened happened either to the author or to people that the author knew (either knew of or knew personally).

It’s kind of an emotional story and a coming of age type story. But at the same time it’s not a coming of age story since it’s told from the perspective of the narrator looking back on her childhood and how she came to be the person she is now. I’m looking forward to reading the companion book to this to see how it ends.

I really kind of hate a lot of the characters in the book. Most notably the male characters. The only one I seemingly DON’T hate is her teacher who helped her fund her education. And I know I hate them because I was raised in Western society in where if a man treats a woman the way the men in this book did there’d be some serious issues. But I also know that it’s partially a cultural thing on how different people are treated.

I admire the narrator’s naive views about her education saving her (I mean it most likely will just not in the way she seems to think it will) and how determined she was to get educated.

And I have to agree with her that I’m glad for her that her brother is dead. Because he does some despicable things. Like giving away her corn that she’s trying to sell so she can pay for her education because he has backwards ideas like his dad that women shouldn’t be educated. That was a despicable move. And made me angry enough that I wish I could have beaten him up for it. Nor do I blame her for doing so to him.

And her dad’s laziness and taking credit for things he didn’t do. And complaining that he has no money when he’s a lazy jerk.

But besides that stuff, this was a well written book. It was kind of hard for me to actually get through it but I’m glad I did. It gave me a perspective that I didn’t quite expect.

Buy it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble


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