This Mournable Body

A blistering novel about the toxic combination of colonialism and capitalism by one of Zimbabwe’s greatest authors
Dangarembga, a filmmaker, playwright and novelist, is the author of Nervous Conditions, which is on the BBC’s list of “The 100 stories that shaped the world”, and a winner of The Commonwealth Writers Award. 

“You spend the morning writing a letter to your cousin Nyasha, who has become a filmmaker in Germany, in which you ask for advice concerning leaving Zimbabwe. You want nothing more than to break away from the implacable terror of every day you spend in your country − where you can no longer afford the odd dab of peanut butter to liven up the vegetables from Mai Manyanga’s garden or the petty comfort of perfumed soap − by going away and becoming a European.”

Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare. For reasons that include her grim financial prospects and her age, she moves to a widow’s boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.

“Graywolf Press is honoured to be the US publisher of Tsitsi Dangaremba’s latest novel, This Mournable Body,” said Katie Dublinski, Associate Publisher. “We’re thrilled to be sharing this profound and indelible novel with Jacana, which we know will make a good home for the book in southern Africa.” 

In This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival. As a last resort, Tambudzai takes an ecotourism job that forces her to return to her parents’ impoverished homestead. This homecoming, in Dangarembga’s tense and psychologically charged novel, culminates in an act of betrayal, revealing just how toxic the combination of colonialism and capitalism can be.


Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of two previous novels, including Nervous Conditions, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She is also a filmmaker, playwright and the director of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.

GENRE: Fiction 
FORMAT: Trade Paperback 
SIZE: 235x155mm
EXTENT: 296 pp
RIGHTS: Southern African Rights 
RELEASE: October 2018