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The Stone Virgins

The Stone Virgins

The Stone Virgins is a gentle but fearless novel that allows the reader to glimpse the depths of unspoken wars in Zimbabwe.
Vera, Yvonne

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Title: The stone virgins
Author: Yvonne Vera
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Oshun Books
Cape Town, South Africa 2005
ISBN 9781770070400 / ISBN 978-1-77007-040-0
Softcover, 13 x 20 cm, 176 pages


The Stone Virgins is a gentle but fearless book 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, Vera lyrically voices the extreme beauty and horror of life after Zimbabwean independence. 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 smoke-blackened 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.

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