Two sisters - Thenjiwe, who is more beautiful than rain and Nonceba, who is as patient as a mantis in the sunlight - grow up in the hilly rural enclave of Kezi through the troubled years of Zimbabwe's liberation war. The Thandabantu ("love people") store, filled with maize and soap and biscuits, surrounded by tall dry grass, is the hub of this ...
Two sisters - Thenjiwe, who is more beautiful than rain and Nonceba, who is as patient as a mantis in the sunlight - grow up in the hilly rural enclave of Kezi through the troubled years of Zimbabwe's liberation war. The Thandabantu ("love people") store, filled with maize and soap and biscuits, surrounded by tall dry grass, is the hub of this town and the place where the Bulawayo-Kezi bus, or Kezi-Bulawayo bus as the local people know it, stops. Independence comes in 1980, and female freedom fighters sit on the veranda of the Thandabantu store, confidently chewing bubblegum. Two years later, the store is smokeblackened rubble; the bones of the civilians who died at the hands of soldiers sent to subdue "dissidents" are buried in Kezi, now a naked graveyard. Many people die, the rest live with their scars. Nonceba's scars are from a stroke on her flesh like light on water and the image of her sister lying still in red mud. These wounds are caused by Sibaso, whose skin is scarred to scales from hiding fires with his hands while fighting in the bush. Another man, who has loved each of Thenjiwe's bones with his hands, bandages Nonceba's scars and works to heal Zimbabwe through history. This title is a gentle but fearless title that allows the reader to glimpse the depths of unspoken wars. Through evoking the succulent scent of oozing marula fruit, the sensual sight of white milk trickling against dark skin, the burning-light feeling of a blade against lips, the author lyrically voices the extreme beauty and horror of life after Zimbabwean independence.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-17 At times bordering on a prose poem, this dense, kaleidoscopic novel by Zimbabwean author Vera (Butterfly Burning) is set against the civil war that ravaged her country in the early 1980s, shortly after Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain. The story takes place largely in the rural outpost of Kezi, a small hamlet of mud huts 200 kilometers away from the city of Bulawayo. The heart of Kezi is Thandabantu Store, one of the few commercial establishments, site of the bus stop and Kezi's only phone booth (which has neither wires nor handset), and the town's unofficial gathering place. Here a young woman named Thenjiwe meets a worldly museum curator from Bulawayo and begins a tentative affair. The civil war intrudes, however. Caught up in the orgiastic killing frenzy, a soldier named Sibaso murders Thenjiwe and rapes and mutilates her sister Nonceba. Thandabantu Store is destroyed in a final conflagration, but Nonceba finds her way to Bulawayo and takes shelter with Thenjiwe's former lover, offering a pallid ray of hope. The story shifts between the perspectives of Thenjiwe, Nonceba and Sibaso. Vera's impressionistic writing can make it difficult to grasp the political context and chronology of the war, but it perfectly captures the terrifying chaos of the fighting, as well as the rhythms of provincial African life ("In truth, the bus drives from Bulawayo to Kezi.... But on the slim wooden plaque suspended next to the conductor's window, Kezi comes first, and in the minds of the residents of Kezi, of course, Kezi comes first: the bus, therefore, is seen as driving from Kezi to Bulawayo"). (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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