The Joyful Song of the Partridge


Translated from by

Published: May 28, 2024





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Book Description

No one knows where Maria das Dores came from. Did she ride in on the armored spines of crocodiles, was she carried many miles in the jaws of fish? The only clear fact is that she is here, sitting naked in the river bordering a town where nothing ever happens. The townspeople murmur restlessly that she is possessed by perverse impulses. They interpret her arrival as an omen of crop failure or, in more hopeful tones, a sign that womankind will soon seize power from the greedy hands of men. As The Joyful Song of the Partridge unfolds, Paulina Chiziane spirals back in time to Maria’s true origins: the days of Maria’s mother and father when the pressure to assimilate in Portuguese-controlled Mozambique formed a distorting bond on the lives of black Mozambicans. A potent whirl of history, mythology, and grapevine chatter, The Joyful Song of the Partridge absorbs you into its many hiding places, and lures you along the wandering paths of its principal characters, whose stark words will stay with you long after the journey is done.

Praise for Paulina Chiziane and The Joyful Song of the Partridge

Paulina, the “storyteller,” steps away from the circle around the fire and puts on her novel-writing hat . . . and observing, scrutinizing, listening, capturing, analyzing and studying the deep complexities of her country, provides us with this delight.
Nataniel Ngomane

"In The Joyful Song of the Patridge, sanity confronts lunacy. Through mythmaking and demystification, Paulina Chiziane turns the tragedy of tradition into decolonial fantasies of national reconciliation, reconstruction of history, and magical female empowerment. Beyond a collector of memories, Paulina Chiziane recounts Mozambican past with the fervent tranquility of a modern visionary and griot.
Niyi Afolabi

Chiziane alternates between a dramatic, high-octane style and a terse and humorous frankness . . . She expresses the peaks of emotion, while never forgetting the part of the self which evaluates oneself.
Sheila Heti, London Review of Books

Chiziane, the first Mozambican woman to publish a novel after the country gained independence in 1990 . . . takes up the story of an unfortunate woman’s parents, born into poverty while the country is under Portuguese rule . . . The cruel racial hierarchy of colonization, internalized, plays out within the microcosm of her family . . . A story ultimately about Mozambique itself, and the struggles and hopes of its people.
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The First Wife

What happens when women demand back what they once gave up for love and marriage? Full of surprising turns, wicked humor, and vivid language, The First Wife is an incredible story about men and women, and the promises made and broken between them. It will stay with you long after the last page.
Maaza Mengiste

In the style that characterizes her writing, the novel pulls no punches, and the polemic it constructs is passionate and engaging. The First Wife is alive with intrigue and happenings . . . It is this sense of strength, of resilience, of passion, and simultaneously of acceptance, of resignation that both excite and irritate that make The First Wife such an enjoyable and provocative read.
Tony Simões da Silva, African Review of Books

Chiziane has crafted a story that is at once an affirmation of African feminism and a rousingly entertaining tale of female friendship that would please any fan of best-selling women’s fiction.
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

Daring, biting in its critique. It describes the plight of women caught between Mozambique's traditional culture and its colonized societies . . . Brave work.
Kirkus Reviews

[The Joyful Song of the Partridge] is a paean to women . . . a superbly told tale, this English translation is long overdue.
The Modern Novel