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Bessie HEAD

Intense personal experience of South Africa's brutal social system, a sense of stifled creativity, and a distaste for politics made Bessie Head leave for Botswana on an exit permit at the age of 27. There, in her chosen rural haven of Serowe, and despite a severe mental breakdown, she wrote novels and stories that earned her international recognition as one of Africa's most remarkable and individual writers.

The Cardinals

The publication at last of The Cardinals--thought to be the first long piece of fiction Head produced and the only one she ever set in South Africa--is an exciting literary event.

After a childhood of poverty and abuse in the slums of Cape Town, the protagonist unexpectedly lands a job as a reporter in the offices of African Beat. She is too withdrawn to flourish in her new world and struggles to find her identity as a woman and a writer against the muckraking demanded by her editors and the sexism of the newsroom. Johnny believes in her, but his faith carries its own dangers. Questions of origins, identity, sexuality, writing, love, revenge, and politics unite to propel the characters to joy while disaster waits.

The seven short pieces of fiction included in this volume come from the years immediately after Bessie Head went to Botswana. Among them is "Earth Love," which she called the "goddam best bit of writing I ever did."

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Tales of Tenderness and Power

During her lifetime, Bessie Head was hailed as one of Africa's greatest writers. This anthology of stories, personal observations, and historic legends -- some previously unpublished -- is a fitting tribute to her versatility and power as a storyteller and commentator. Tales of Tenderness and Power draws on writings that have roots in the author's own experience in Botswana. It reflects her fascination with the country's people and their history and her identification with individuals and their conflicting emotions. She enjoyed observing, smiling, forgiving, or raging -- and then recording. These tales reveal her affinity with human goodness and tenderness and her fear and resentment of the misuse of power.

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A Woman Alone

Autobiographical Writings

"I need a quiet backwater and a sense of living as though I am barely alive on the earth, treading a small, careful pathway through life.''

A Woman Alone is a collection of autobiographical writings, sketches, and essays that covers the entire span of Bessie Head's creative life, up to her death in 1986 at the age of 49. It reveals a woman of great sensitivity and vitality, inspired through her knowledge of suffering with "a reverence for ordinary people'' and finding some healing for her own anguish in a quiet corner of Africa.

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A Question of Power

It is never clear to Elizabeth whether the mission school principal's cruel revelation of her origins is at the bottom of her mental breakdown. She has left South Africa with her son and is living in the village of Motabeng, the place of sand, in Botswana where there are no street lights at night.

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A Collector of Treasures

A sequence of Botswana village tales about subjects such as the breakdown of family life and the position of women in this society told with all the skill that one has come to expect of Bessie Head.

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Maru coverMaru

Margaret Cadmore, an orphaned Masarwa girl, comes to Dilepe to teach, only to discover that in this remote Botswana village her own people are treated as outcasts. In the love story and intrigue that follows, Bessie Head brilliantly combines a portrait of loneliness with a rich affirmation of the mystery and spirituality of life.

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Serowe

The Village of the Rain-Wind

An extraordinary feat of re-creation of an African village's recent past through the words and memories of its inhabitants. Bessie Head captures the life of this community with all her skill as a novelist. It will lead readers to make comparisons with their own villages wherever they are.

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When Rain Clouds Gather

The poverty-stricken village of Golema Mmidi, in the heart of rural Botswana, offers a haven to the exiles gathered there. Makhaya, a political refugee from South Africa, becomes involved with an English agricultural expert and the villagers as they struggle to revolutionize their traditional subsistence farming methods by introducing modern techniques. The pressures of tradition, the opposition of the local chief and, above all, the harsh climate threaten to bring tragedy to the community, but strangely, there remains a hope for the future.

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Edited by Denis Hirson

The Heinemann Book of South African Short Stories

"These 27 short stories are so moving that I had to stop reading after each one until my sensibilities readjusted... [this] book makes an important contribution to our understanding of what life has been like for those who have been living, or dying, with the reality of apartheid."
--KLIATT

The issue of apartheid pervades this vibrant collection of 27 South African short stories written between 1945 and 1992. Includes contributions from such celebrated writers as Bessie Head, Alex La Guma, and Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer.

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Luis Bernardo HONWANA

We Killed Mangy-Dog and Other Stories

Translated by Dorothy Guedes

Of the title story, which like the others is set in Mozambique, Lewis Nkosi has said, "...a hauntingly beautiful story, whose simplicity of narrative conceals an extraordinary sharp poetic insight into the theme of life and death, the impulses of love and violence..."

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Chenjerai HOVE

Shadows

"It is a quietly powerful narrative...an unforgettable saga..."

-- Sunday Mail, Harare

The shadows of war, death, and life itself loom large in this second novel by the award-winning author of Bones. Inspired by two young lovers who opted for death instead of life, Shadows tells the story of innocents caught in a world where people have little control over their own lives. Constrained by poverty and harsh colonial laws, the lovers struggle to survive in a barren land and cope with the conflicting demands of a liberation war in which death is a brutal reality.

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Bones

Winner of the 1989 Noma Award

"A powerful, moving, and ambitious novel, written with exceptional linguistic control, plumbing the depths of human suffering but having the wisdom to hope..."
- Noma Award Citation

Bones is a poetic novel about the guerilla fight for freedom in Zimbabwe, but unlike a conventional novel, all the action is interior monologues -- some by specific characters, others by representatives of certain types produced by colonial history, or by spirits. The story involves a mother's love, and a lover's yearning, for a young man who has joined the freedom fighters. Hove captures the ambivalence and conflicts of loyalties in the attitude of the peasants towards the guerillas, and underscores the state's indifference to the lives of ordinary people.

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Countries:(29)

Algeria . Angola . Benin . Botswana . Cameroun . Chad . Congo, Kinshasa . Congo, Brazzaville . Djibouti . Egypt . Ethiopia . Ghana . Guinea . Ivory Coast . Kenya . Madagascar . Morocco . Mozambique . Mali . Nigeria . Rwanda . Senegal . South Africa . Sudan . Tanzania . Uganda . Zambia . Zimbabwe .

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