This book is hard and strange. This is not an indictment on the writing as it is an intrinsically well-crafted work of art. It is well written but the strangeness is primarily due to the second-person narration. A curious choice. Its hardness is due to the emotionally and socially evocative nature of the story as Tambudzai spirals from one pain and dehumanizing condition to another.
While Tambudzai in Nervous Conditions was hopeful while confronting the evils of patriarchy and colonialism, in This Mournable Body, we are confronted with a Tambudzai who is beaten down by life and completely worn out by a life filled with vagrancies.
In all of its hardness and strangeness, This Mournable Body has its pulse right on the continued degradation of the Zimbabwean society. After overcoming the limitations that culture imposed on her, Tambudzai graduated with high hopes but her hopes are dashed at every turn. Her mental health is greatly impacted, the instability impacts the choices she makes and the deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe make it worse.
Themes covered in the book include mental health, post-colonialism, class mobility, trauma theory and race relations. While I have not enjoyed The Mournable Body as much as I enjoyed Nervous Conditions, the former is also a good read and an impressive social commentary on the sad case that is Zimbabwean condition and the same condition can be said about the African continent as a whole.