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Summary

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.

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. It is this homecoming, in Dangarembga's tense and psychologically charged novel, that culminates in an act of betrayal, revealing just how toxic the combination of colonialism and capitalism can be.

©2018 Tsitsi Dangarembga (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb book ruined by inappropriate accent

I can't understand why an author of the stature of Tsitsi Dangarembga should have her character voiced in an American accent. This is not a translation, but a book set in a country where English is an official language. I'm sure Americans would be annoyed if they bought an audiobook of Catcher in the Rye only to discover it was narrated with a British accent, or the Great Gatsby in an Aussie twang.

This is not to say that the narrator mightn't do a great job with another book. It just feels completely disrespectful to the author and fellow Zimbabweans, and Africans altogether, to have made this very poor and inappropriate choice. I just can't listen to it without wondering how this is still happening when we've had months of introspection over Black Lives Matter. It really should be re-recorded.

18 people found this helpful

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Please get the readers who know how to pronounce

Disappointing... please make sure your readers can actually pronounce the words in the book. Destroys the book. We have plenty of excellent Zimbabwean authors and am sure plenty of narrators who would do this beautiful book justice.
Disappointing.

15 people found this helpful

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Good story not sure about the narrator

As a Zimbabwean, I was excited to see a book from a writer from my country on Audible. The story is great and touches on the challenges of mental ill health. As a native speaker, I did find the super poor pronunciation of the Shona and Ndebele words pretty distracting - and wished she had practiced with the author so that words would have sounded as the author intended.
Still enjoyed the book though 😊

11 people found this helpful

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Great overview of life in post colonial Harare

Would've been enjoyable if narrator pronounced the Shona words &sing it better this disappointed readers

3 people found this helpful

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The unsatisfied life of a Zimbabwean

I got it off the Booker shortlist, having long been interested in the contemporary issues of Africa.

It took me a while to get started, and at first I found the second person narrative rather grating, but gradually became used to it.

The characters are richly drawn and inter-connected plausibly, though often through misunderstanding and misinterpreting each other, and after a series of adventures that builds into the climax of the tale.

The main protagonist does seem rather passive, rolling with events rather than in control of them, but I think that part of the authors point, demonstrating the triple alienation of being Black, female and older. Meanwhile more dynamic and often unscrupulous individuals shape the world around her.

By the end, I had really got involved with the characters, and their different perspectives, and internal battles with truth. The African situations, from the chaotic combi taxis, the importance of family, the disenchantment of the NGOs, the impact of tourism, the legacy of war all rang true.

is it good enough to win the Booker? I think so, but haven't read the competitors yet...

3 people found this helpful

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Just goes on and on

Story seemed to just natter incessantly, and narrator’s voice didn’t help. Both left me feeling like I’d wasted my time... middling, monotonous, performative.

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  • Howard
  • 10-02-20

Please use African readers for African stories

I’m African born and love stories from my home continent. This story is no exception. Such a pity the reader attempts an African accent but fails on pronunciation every time.
It’s so distracting from the story. I think American listeners would also prefer to hear the story in an authentic African voice from the stories own region.

21 people found this helpful

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  • FRM
  • 13-11-19

Poor performance

horrible reading and horrible pronunciation of shona!. the performance ruined the book for me. should have taken on a shona reader as an advisor.

9 people found this helpful

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  • lilmama2u
  • 10-12-20

Disappointed

A note to audible...the same way you use European readers for European books, please put as much effort in finding readers who can pronounce words in the native language of the writer. Or at the very least, find a consultant who can help the readers with pronunciation. I cringed so many times as the words and vowel sounds were anglicized and butchered. Please stop this. This is the second book by a Southern African author where your readers just missed the mark. It becomes so distracting.

4 people found this helpful

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  • gardner, S.
  • 19-01-19

At times it seemed overwritten & needlessly complex

This was not a bad book by any means, but it was very hard to follow. The author used a lot of allegory throughout the book, and at times I wasn’t able to make sense of it. I couldn’t ever fully grasp the purpose of the book or what meaning the author wanted to convey through the telling of this story. It seemed at times to be overwritten, and in my opinion it could have been amazing had the approach been simpler and a little more linear.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-12-20

A disappointing experience

I found it hard to relate to this book particularly as a Zimbabwean. The narrator is not Shona speaking and I could hardly understand what she was saying most of the time which left a sour taste in my mouth each time she was trying to pronounce some of the words. Her performance was stellar in all other aspects but this one. This really throws one off. Overall the plot was good with a lot of unexpected turns, considering that it a sequel to Nervous Conditions; although the ending was a bit rushed.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-12-20

Riveting

I quite enjoyed the book however I struggled with the performance as it so happens that I am a shona speaker so the butchering of shona names and references had me cringing and I could not adjust. I think the producers could have spent a bit more effort to prepare the performer with proper pronunciations of shona. Excellent book though

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kathryn Sweetlove
  • 10-05-21

Disappointed - spoilt by poor casting

Having spent several years living in rural Zimbabwe, I was so was excited to buy this title. But the US accent takes away so much of the flavour and spirit of the author’s words. The reader did not even bother to research Shona pronunciation. It should have been a Zimbabwean voice.