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Book Title: A Question of Power|
The author of the book: Bessie Head
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 6.53 MB
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Loaded: 2173 times
Reader ratings: 7.6
Edition: Penguin Global
Date of issue: May 23rd 2012
ISBN 13: 9780143528487
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In this semi-autobiographical novel, Head tracks the protagonist Elizabeth’s struggle to emerge from the oppressive social situation in which she finds herself, and from the nightmares and hallucinations that torment her. Elizabeth, like the author, was conceived in an out-of-wedlock union between a black man and a white woman of social standing—a union outlawed by her country of birth, South Africa. Elizabeth leaves South Africa with her young son to live in Botswana, a country that has escaped some of the worst evils of colonial domination. But in rural Botswana she is once again faced with a constricting social system as the villagers are suspicious of her urban ways and frown upon her individualistic behavior. They also bear her ill will on racial grounds because she is light skinned like the ‘Bushmen’ who are a despised tribe there. Elizabeth suffers not only social isolation but intellectual deprivation as well. One of the few people with whom she can converse as an intellectual equal is the American Peace Corps volunteer, Tom. During the four years in which Elizabeth is plagued by mental, social and economic challenges, it is Tom, and her own love for and obligation to her young son that help her to survive this ordeal.
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Read information about the authorBessie Emery Head (6 July 1937 – 17 April 1986), though born in South Africa, is usually considered Botswana's most influential writer.
Bessie Emery Head was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the child of a wealthy white South African woman and a black servant when interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa. It was claimed that her mother was mentally ill so that she could be sent to a quiet location to give birth to Bessie without the neighbours knowing. However, the exact circumstances are disputed, and some of Bessie Head's comments, though often quoted as straight autobiography, are in fact from fictionalized settings.
In the 1950s and '60s she was a teacher, then a journalist for the South African magazine Drum. In 1964 she moved to Botswana (then still the Bechuanaland Protectorate) as a refugee, having been peripherally involved with Pan-African politics. It would take 15 years for Head to obtain Botswana citizenship. Head settled in Serowe, the largest of Botswana's "villages" (i.e. traditional settlements as opposed to settler towns). Serowe was famous both for its historical importance, as capital of the Bamangwato people, and for the experimental Swaneng school of Patrick van Rensburg. The deposed chief of the Bamangwato, Seretse Khama, was soon to become the first President of independent Botswana.
Her early death in 1986 (aged 48) from hepatitis came just at the point where she was starting to achieve recognition as a writer and was no longer so desperately poor.
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