Nervous Conditions

by Tsitsi Dangarembga; translated by K. Anthony Appiah
Published by Seal Press (1988)
ISBN 978-1580050630

This stunning first novel, set in colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s, centers on the coming of age of a teenage girl, Tambu, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her rural village, especially the circumscribed lives of the women, thinks her dreams have come true when her wealthy uncle offers to sponsor her education. But she soon learns that the education she receives at his mission school comes with a price. At the school she meets the worldly and rebellious Nyasha, who is chafing under her father’s authority. Raised in England, Nyasha is so much a stranger among her own people that she can no longer speak her native language. Tambu can only watch as her cousin, caught between two cultures, pays the full cost of alienation.

Nervous Conditions has become a modern African classic. It was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1989.

About the Author:

Tsitsi Dangarembga was born in Zimbabwe. She has also studied filmmaking, graduating with honors from the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. Her first feature, Kare Kare Zvako: Mother’s Day premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005. Dangarembga lives in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she owns a film production company. She is also at work completing her second novel.