Impressive Responses to Valerie Tagwira’s Short Story

Valerie Tagwira etched a spot for herself in the Zimbabwean literature by producing a whopper of a novel, Uncertainty of Hope, described by early reviewers as an honest statement to the political, economic, and social situation in  contemporary Zimbabwe. Now she has turned to another literary medium– the short story– and has just produced “Mainini’s Grace’s Promises”, which deals with the effects of HIV-AIDS to children in Zimbabwe. She has touched the hearts of many readers again, receiving so many favorable responses that it would be easier to predict that this genre might widen her readership more rapidly than the novel. In fact, the compact message in the short story is as suitable to the subject matter as it is to the interest of a reader who would like to read something in a short span of time.

Several readers have posted comments on Tagwira’s website, expressing the different ways in which the story touched them. All but one of the readers found the form and content of the story matching perfectly; the reader who had reservations about the content commented that the message needed to be enlightened by elements of humor, stating that life already is suffused with enough moments of despair. 

Some readers stated that the story was more realistic than fictional, and that it should be read as such, implying that fictional or not, the work does its job of representing the nightmares caused by a widespread pandemic. Others focused on the style of the work, its immediacy and singleness of purpose; its brevity and suspense: once you begin reading it, you will stare at the screen of your computer until the the story’s end.

For those who have not had a chance to read “Mainini Grace’s Promises” , here is the first sentence: “Sarai’s mother had concluded that it was not the three successive funerals, but her own subsequent illness that finally did it.” 

I just coudn’t believe the story’s dizzying outcome, certainly a good reason to keep on reading once you begin.


One thought on “Impressive Responses to Valerie Tagwira’s Short Story

  1. I read ‘Mainini Grace’s Promises’ several weeks ago. I’ve forgotten now what my immediate response was, but I recall that I had a bit of mixed feelings about it. The title, for a start, is a bit awkward, sound-wise. Not the ‘Mainini’ bit; I loved that. But ‘Grace’s Promises’ is a case of too many determined Ss, in a title that ought to be snappy. Tagwira should have considered changing it.

    I loved the ending of the story (though I kind of figured out that the Mainini herself must be in some serious health predicament, not to have shown up… The image of her at the door was really powerful. For the first three-quarters of the story, however, too much time was taken, in my view. Tagwira could have tightened things up more, racked up the tension a bit.

    My view after reading, was that Valerie Tagwira must obviously be a better novelist than a short story writer. That said, I am yet to read her novel…

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