cover image African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe

African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe

Doris May Lessing. HarperCollins Publishers, $25 (442pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016854-4

After the wars fought by black nationalists for the liberation of Rhodesia ended in 1980 and the nation of Zimbabwe came into being, Lessing was able to return to the homeland that had officially exiled her 25 years earlier because of her opposition to the white government. The distinguished novelist ( The Fifth Child , etc.) details four trips she made to Zimbabwe in 1982, 1988, 1989 and 1992 in a series of haunting vignettes dealing with facets of life there: the corruption--and achievements--of the black government, poverty, land erosion, wildlife destruction, the emergence of feminism, the death of Marxism, AIDS and the daily problems of the people as they cope with social change. Lessing's keen descriptions of the entrenched white racism demonstrated by her friends and family are as discouraging as her observations of the new mixing between the races are inspiring of hope. A powerfully written, passionately felt memoir by a writer of conscience. Author tour. (Oct.)