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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE BOOK OF NOT (article first published : 2007-04-11)

Launched at the recent Time of the Writers Festival was The Book of Not (2006, Oxfordshire: Ayebia Publishing). It was introduced by award-winning performance poet Lebo Mashile.

Set in the period of white-minority rule in Rhodesia, to the emergence of an independent Zimbabwe in the 1980s, The Book of Not, the sequel to Tsitsi’s award-winning Nervous Conditions (1989 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Africa), chronicles the parallel transformation of the protagonist Tambu, a feisty adolescent, as her country struggles to make the painful transition to new nationhood.

In the suffocating atmosphere of The Young Ladies’ College of the Sacred Heart (five black students crammed into one room known as the ‘African dormitory), she encounters a system that disparages her African village background.

Running through the novel is the theme of escape: escape from her village, her family, her African-ness. As Tambu matures in the face of continuous adversity, she adopts a ‘live and let live‘ philosophy, couched in terms of what she is ‘not ‘, rather than what she is, as she continues her quest to redefine the personal, political and historical forces that threaten to destroy the fabric of her community – and reveals how its aftermath still bedevils Africans today.

The Book of Not grandly sets the stage for the final book in the trilogy , which will be set in post-independence Zimbabwe.




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