Read The Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera Online


Winner of the Macmillan Prize for African Adult FictionAn uncompromising novel by one of Africa's premiere writers, detailing the horrors of civil war in luminous, haunting proseIn 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 ZimbWinner of the Macmillan Prize for African Adult FictionAn uncompromising novel by one of Africa's premiere writers, detailing the horrors of civil war in luminous, haunting proseIn 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....

Title : The Stone Virgins
Author :
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ISBN : 9780374528942
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 192 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Stone Virgins Reviews

  • Paul
    2019-04-19 13:29

    This is the first work I have read by Yvonne Vera; indeed I had barely heard of her. I periodically look at the list of writers on the British Council website; I found Vera on here and decided read some of her work. I’m glad I did because this is a remarkable book. The prose is so lush and poetic and so very powerful. What makes the work even more powerful and chilling is that it is based on actual events. Vera was Zimbabwean and she has chosen to focus on the power struggle post-independence between the forces of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe’s forces were operating in the Matabeleland area. Many thousands of people died (probably over 20,000), many of them women. Vera choses to tell the story through the lives of two women, sisters, who were victims of the violence; one of whom survives. A certain level of knowledge of historical events is assumed, but even without it the novel is still coherent. Vera faces the most difficult subjects head on using a poetic and modernist approach. This doesn’t make the violence any less shocking, but the structure of the novel around it makes the impact very different to graphic violence written in a different way. The first section of the book is about the lead up to independence and sets a sense of place as Vera carefully describes Bulawayo. The sense of place is very strong and the characters in the novel are really secondary to the nation itself and Vera’s critique. The pace of the novel is slow and is reminiscent of stream of consciousness; but its roots are in African, not western culture. The second and main part of the novel tells the story of Thenjiwe and Nonceba; the death of one and the rape and mutilation of the other. Nonceba survives;“She holds on. Has she lived before this moment of urgency and despair? Is there something whispered before a cataclysmic earthquake, sleep, before a frightful awakening to death? Is life not lived backwards, in flashes, in spasm of hopeless regret?”What Vera does as well is to take the reader into the mind of the killer to show his thoughts and reasons; to ask why a young idealistic university student should do this. Writing about this sort of horror runs the risk of making the violence too central or too acceptable; but Vera manages this my minimizing the factual and the realist and the history is engaged in a different way. It is an examination of male violence and perhaps poses the question of why men have taken on the attributes of their former colonial oppressors rather than finding a new way. The woman’s perspective and voice is central to the novel. But there is hope in the last section of the book as Nonceba recovers and a male character enters the novel and provides a different and more redemptive perspective for the future. Vera constructs a powerful argument about turning an honest gaze on her country’s history and the reasons for what happened. Again a novel which ought to be better known and really should be part of the canon.

  • Courtney H.
    2019-04-18 11:41

    Butterfly Burning is a difficult book to forget. But though the memory of its beauty and the terribleness of its tragedy stayed with me, the weight of it faded over a decade. Which is why I didn’t really know what I was getting into with The Stone Virgins. I only knew that it had been too long since I had picked up a novel by Yvonne Vera. The Stone Virgins is a lyrical, lush, beautifully written book. It is prose poetry, and lovely. And then it is terrible—truly, truly terrible. More terrible than I was expecting; perhaps one of the most ugly, violent books I have ever read. All told in this relentlessly poetic voice, and the terribleness of what happens—to Nonceba and Thenjiwe, to the general store in Kezi, to Kezi itself—is all the more horrifying for Vera’s tone, and for the tenderness with which she introduces the town and the sisters. The same voice that crafts the love is the same voice that destroys them. It is a novel about destruction and healing—of a person, of a memory, of a town, of an entire country engulfed in two massive, violent, ugly wars. Vera tells us the story of a person’s survival, after showing us what no person should ever have to, or be able to, survive. I've never come across any writer with a voice quite like Vera's, and I don't know who but her could tell this story.

  • Amino
    2019-04-10 13:50

    Poetic prose, jarring, but ultimately wasn't a very gripping narrative.

  • Justin
    2019-04-07 11:34

    Would have been a 5 if it were more streamlined. Very nearly cry-worthy.

  • Christopher
    2019-04-02 09:32

    The Stone Virgins is set against a backdrop of brutal violence and profound sadness, and yet Yvonne Vera manages to craft a story of striking beauty with an almost spiritual reverence for the power and dignity of the human capacity for love and healing. In 1980, Rhodesia won independence from Britain after decades of guerrilla warfare. Within two years, however, Robert Mugabe's rise to power in the new Zimbabwe heralded a sudden and extreme wave of new violence across the country. Vera's story gives a glimpse of this volatile period through the eyes of two sisters, Nonceba and Thenjiwe, whose love for each other and for the beauty of the land and the people cloaked by the horrors of war-time atrocities is ultimately the instrument of healing allowing some semblance of a return to life for those who emerge blinking in the light after years of darkness and bloodshed.Vera doesn't tell her story in traditional narrative style, eschewing concrete descriptions of chronological events for more subtle brushstrokes--myriad personal vignettes and natural metaphors that mesh into a tapestry whose whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Indeed, as the author takes us form the salad days of village life in tiny Kezi during the period from 1950 through 1980, then through the terrors of the 80's, and finally into the nearby modern city of Bulawayo (where Vera herself was born), her words change physically on the page. The transformation matches Nonceba's personal journey back into the world of the living, and the writing shifts gracefully from dream-like poetry to more tangible descriptions, giving the illusion that the reader is also waking languorously from a vivid trance. Vera tells her story as much through style--the shape and flow of her words--as by the substance of those words.A haunting book.

  • Fábio de Carvalho
    2019-03-30 10:20

    Rarely have I had the impression of having such a good book in my hands as while I read The Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera. The slow and detailed narration, symbolically rich and incredibly well woven, perfectly serves the feminist tones of the book and it's message of a need for self-determination coupled with a form of support from others, not for a nation but for it's people, individually. The only reason I do not feel I can give this book a 5 stars rating is the fact that, from my cultural background as an occidental man hoping for his nation's independance through a possible pacifist and democratic outcome, I can't hope to understand the struggles of a people in a much dire need of independance and with the invitability of war and crimes on it's path if it wants to reach this goal. The Stone Virgins seems to be an african book written for africans, and it is a hard book to read with a tone and message that are difficult to accept, but are necessary.

  • Chloe
    2019-03-29 13:29

    I want to start off by saying how much i enjoyed Vera's writing style. The poetry prose she uses to describe the surroundings, the actions, the characters is absolutely beautiful. That being said, there are so many descriptions that the story seems to get lost within the words. There are things we need to read over a few times before truly comprehending (is it a metaphor? or a real action?). Still enjoyed it quite a bit.

  • John
    2019-04-01 08:31

    I can see how/why this book would be beloved by some. But it just didn't work for me. The Stone Virgins has only slightly more narrative flow than most slam poetry; and what little narrative there is has about as much clarity and cohesion as Paul Simon's "Kodachrome."That doesn't mean there aren't beautiful turns of phrase laced throughout, but that's just not enough for me.Update: I finished reading this book two weeks ago, and I have *entirely* forgotten what it's about.

  • Kimberly Rogers
    2019-03-22 09:27

    I'm reading this book right now (well, not right, right now. . .). The author is from Zimbabwe-- the book is more of a lyric poem and I'm using her amazing descriptions as a guide for my own writing. It's a gorgeous book. Downsides: not big on plot for you plot-mongers. I've been picking it up and putting it down for about two months, but love it every time and vow to begin reading it from the beginning again once I finish it.

  • Samantha
    2019-03-24 11:41

    The colonial period must hav ebeen a hard on efor those who eperinced it. Its also a feministic note on the inner stergnth that women do possess. I like that but not her descriptions of place they are tiring.phew!

  • Janey
    2019-04-12 11:38

    Unusual, breathtakingly beautiful prose (reminded me of Virginia Woolf). The book itself destroys. I think I told someone I never wanted to read this book again. But lo, I went and bought a copy yesterday. Maybe someday I'll get the courage to read it a second time.

  • Timnet
    2019-04-06 07:35

    her prose is really poetic, colorful, beautiful. but the story is kind of dark. weird contrast.. but somehow works. looking forward to reading some of vera's other work. but unfortunately won't be any new stuff. she died of (what many assume to be) AIDS :(

  • Lauren
    2019-03-20 14:44

    This was torture.

  • Sumayyah
    2019-04-06 13:45

    Interesting book, excellent imagery, just not my kind of thing.

  • Marjon
    2019-03-19 13:31

    De stenen maagden (dutch)

  • Kelly
    2019-04-10 10:37

    Incredible imagery. Very poetic, dark, and deep. It may be a struggle for some to read, but if you're a lover of words and language, this may be right up your alley.

  • Kristina Reardon
    2019-04-14 09:36

    The juxtaposition of poetic language with such violent scenes makes you reconsider what war means to those who experience it first-hand, and who bear its scars long into the future.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-26 11:25

    frank and brutal fiction about life of women in troubled contemporary Africa

  • Eva
    2019-03-23 12:36

    3.5 stars

  • szallj
    2019-04-05 14:34

    not a fan of the fractured, overly poetic writing, but man is this book confronting.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-06 06:35

    This is a disturbing but poetic and beautifully written book. Reading it is like being in a trance, but it also gives a glimpse of the reality in Zimbabwe, which I could never understand!

  • Melissa
    2019-03-23 06:33

    The most powerful of her novels. So unfortunate her life was cut short so young.

  • Mills College Library
    2019-03-28 08:42

    Fiction V473s 2003

  • Tamie
    2019-04-15 06:48

    (Bookclub) Only got to page 37. No dialogue. Couldn't get into the story. Couldn't follow it. Hardly ever give up on a book but I had to with this one.