Photo of Zimbabwe by babasteve used under a Creative Commons license.
Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing (Harper Perennial, 1999).
The first novel by the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. In Salon’s Literary Guide to the World, Alexandra Fuller writes:
. . . Originally published in 1950, the story draws on Lessing’s childhood on a remote farm in Rhodesia and on her experiences as a young woman in the country’s capital. Lessing, always trying to escape, had left school by 13, home by 15 and was married by 19. A few years later — terrified of the suffocating ennui she felt as a wife and mother — she left her husband and two young children, and ultimately moved to England where she turned her decades of unhappiness in Rhodesia into world-class literature. Here is Lessing . . . describing Mary Turner’s journey from the familiar suburbanite comforts of the city — “hot and cold water in taps and the streets and the office” — to her new home on her husband’s farm in the vast highveld: “Mary roused herself to look at his farm, and saw the dim shapes of low trees, like great soft birds, flying past; and beyond it a hazy sky that was cracked and seamed with stars.” There is all the space in the world, and yet Lessing manages to convey the sense of forbidding loneliness and careless, inscrutable wilderness that will be Mary’s undoing.
Jan Harford has all sorts of biographical information about Lessing. Here is Salon’s guide to her career.
Salon’s Dwight Garner interviewed Lessing in 1997. Joyce Carol Oates visited with Lessing in 1973. The BBC profiled her after she won the Nobel Prize. The Nobel folks have an excerpt from the novel posted. John Barkham reviewed it in The New York Times in 1950. Here is more recent writing about it Bibliofemme, Annette Keino (Kenya Imagine), Kevin Breathnach, Bibliolatrist, sunmeilan, Ingrid A. Lobo, Alain, Dylanwolf, Alyson (at TimesOnline), and Elis M. The book is BBC Open2’s Book of the Month this month. Here is an introductory post, and here is a discussion forum. And on this blog you can watch and listen as Ash reads a passage from Chapter 7 about the weather changing (in an authentic Zimbabwean accent!).