Book Review: Nervous Conditions By: Jennifer Maswanganyi


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Reading books outside of work for some is a luxury once you get into the corporate world given the long hours you put in, the exhaustion or other commitments that you have outside of work. But after a long day at work, sometimes one needs to kick off the shoes, relax and indulge on a good book and just take a break from the real world.

Personally, books are an escape to the imaginary world my mind takes me as I page through and try to picture the places and the characters. Books in a way force me to recreate the writer’s thoughts and let their words inhabit my mind completely.

I’ve just finished reading a well written book by Tsitsi Dangarembga “Nervous Conditions”, which is a non-fiction novel dealing with the issues of poverty and challenges faced by women in the early days. This book presents numerous struggles that women experienced and continue to experience in today’s world. On the other side, it also makes you appreciate the opportunities we have these days compared to the early days where less was expected of women.

I don’t love rushing through a book when I read, but with this one I finished reading within a week as I couldn’t put it down.

The books is about a young teen (Tambu) who wishes for more out of life than what is expected of a young girl in the 60’s. She is full of envy when their “rich” uncle (Babamukuru) takes her brother to go study at the school where he teaches. Because a girl child is expected to stay at home, when she asks why she can’t be educated her father replies and say ‘Can you cook and feed books to your husband?’

Tambus brother is the only male in the family and therefore he was always given the most attention and expected of him that he would bring them out of the squalor they were living in. Their uncle then take Nhamo to further his education in the city, however due to complications he passes away few years later.

Soon after Nhamos death the opportunity is given to Tambu to go and achieve her dreams, she was given the opportunity because of her determination. When her parents didn’t have the funds to continue her schooling she tried to raise funds herself by growing maize on a small plot and selling in town.

As Tambu goes on to live with Babamukuru, she discovers the other side of her uncle and many other secrets. In her while living with her uncles family, she finds out shocking truths where she thought the grass was greener, she also gets to be close with her uncles daughter (Nyasha) and re-discovers herself when she sees Nyashas courage to a lot of things.

Tambu’s thirst for knowledge and education sees her becomes superior student which affords her an opportunity to win a place at a convent-school, another incredible stepping-stone which sees her leaving her unlces home. Tambu’s absence when she goes to the new school leaves Nyasha devastated and lead to her self-destructing.

The issues dealt with on the book are still very much applicable in today’s world, as much as times have changed, women are sometime frowned upon when they choose to put themselves first and not doing thing the conventional way.

I give this book a 4.9/5*

Jennifer B Maswanganyi


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