Tales of Tenderness and Power

Bessie Head, Author Heinemann Educational Books $10.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-435-90579-8
What is most striking about these stories is that the characters herein are constantly in flight. When the white man seized her native land of South Africa, the author infers, millions of people were left wandering in search of their identity. Head herself lived in exile in Botswana. The daughter of a white woman and her family's black stable hand, she grew up without ever knowing a single blood relative, and she writes about people who are similarly cut off from their families. In one touching story, a young man and woman run away when their voluntary union, in violation of their culture's tradition of arranged marriages, brings dishonor to their families. In another tale, a man planning his first trip away from his native Cape Town suddenly realizes the absurdity of this journey: ``To . . . go gallivanting around like some fool in a foreign place like Durban would be an act of the most vile treachery.'' The stories in this collection, published posthumously, offer a rare insight into African history, culture and lore from a black perspective. The volume is a companion to Head's A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings (see review below); some writings, which straddle the fence between fiction and nonfiction, appear in both volumes. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
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