Winner of the Macmillan Prize for African Adult Fiction
An uncompromising novel by one of Africa's premiere writers, detailing the horrors of civil war in luminous, haunting prose
In 1980, after decades of guerilla war against colonial rule, Rhodesia earned its hard-fought-for independence from Britain. Less than two years thereafter when Mugabe rose to power in the new Zimbabwe, it signaled the begining of brutal civil unrest that would last nearly a half decade more.
With The Stone Virgins Yvonne Vera examines the dissident movement from the perspective of two sisters living in a small township outside of Bulawayo. In a portrait painted in successive impressions of life before and after the liberation, Vera explores the quest for dignity and a centered existence against a backdrop of unimaginable violence; the twin instincts of survival and love; the rival pulls of township and city life; and mankind's capacity for terror, beauty, and sacrifice. One sister will find a reason for hope. One will not make it through alive.
Weaving historical fact within a story of grand passions and striking endurance, Vera has gifted us with a powerful and provocative testament to the resilience of the Zimbabwean people.
About the Author
Yvonne Vera was born in Bulawayo, where she is now director of the National Gallery. She is the author of "Butterfly Burning" (FSG, 2000), and "Without a Name" and "Under the Tongue" (FSG, 2002).
"Yvonne Vera writes with magnificent luminosity. The Stone Virgins is a song about the author’s people, and the tragedy of their lives and their loves, contrasted against the sheer beauty of their land. It may yet prove to be one of the notable novels of the twenty-first century."
-Ama Ata Aidoo
"Yvonne Vera brings to this novel her extraordinary gift of sidelong and oblique entry into the heart of things using the total environment, trees, sky, river, rocks, and mountains--they are themselves characters--to express human emotion. Her treatment of love is unusual and strikingly original bringing out its redemptive power which triumphs over the horrors of war and human cruelty."
-Eldred D. Jones, Editor, African Literature Today
"The Stone Virgins is Vera at her lyrical best. Her affinity for visual art comes through in her writing. Her descriptions are painted, by turns, in bold palette-knife applied strokes and delicate pastel colors. The novel exudes compassion, tolerance and sensitivity -- the three hallmarks of great writing. Post-colonial African literature is led by Zimbabwean writers and she is the by far the most imaginative and original voice among them."