Through the various and complex lives of Onai Moyo – a market woman and responsible mother of three children, and her best friend Katy Nguni – a vendor and black-market currency dealer – we are given an insight into the challenges that face those who only survive by their wits, their labour and their mutual support. In doing so Tagwira aptly captures how precarious the future is for the inhabitants of Mbare, Zimbabwe in 2005. The story of these two close friends is situated in a high-density suburb. However, the author also introduces a much wider cross-section of Zimbabwean society: Tom Sibanda, a young business man and farmer, his girlfriend, Faith, a law student, Tom’s sister Emily, a health professional, and Mawaya, the ostensible beggar. With depth and sensitivity, Tagwira pulls these many threads into a densely woven novel that provides us with of some of the many faces of contemporary Zimbabwe.

Born and bred in Zimbabwe, Valerie Tagwira is working in London while preparing for her membership exam for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The Uncertainty of Hope is her first novel.

Tagwira says that it ‘began as an exploration in creativity. However, because of my interest in health-related and developmental issues that affect women, The Uncertainty of Hope became a way of exploring issues close to my heart … the challenges that underprivileged women face in their day-to-day lives, and the obstacles that they encounter in trying to make life better for their families.

‘Through Onai and her best friend Katy, the book examines domestic violence, poverty, homelessness and lack of control that disadvantaged women have over their sexuality, which among other things, makes them more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. It is also a book about surviving against the odds, and the value of true friendship. Onai and Katy’s interactions with other characters from a different social class reveal the intricacies of modern day Zimbabwe.’

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