Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
A Novel

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Butterfly Burning brings the brilliantly poetic voice of Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera to American readers for the first time. Set in Makokoba, a black township, in the late l940s, the novel is an intensely bittersweet love story. When Fumbatha, a construction worker, meets the much younger Phephelaphi, he"wants her like the land beneath his feet from which birth had severed him." He in turn fills her "with hope larger than memory." But Phephelaphi is not satisfied with their "one-room" love alone. The qualities that drew Fumbatha to her, her sense of independence and freedom, end up separating them. And the closely woven fabric of township life, where everyone knows everyone else, has a mesh too tight and too intricate to allow her to escape her circumstances on her own.

Vera exploits language to peel away the skin of public and private lives. In Butterfly Burning she captures the ebullience and the bitterness of township life, as well as the strength and courage of her unforgettable heroine.


About Yvonne Vera

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Yvonne Vera was born in Bulawayo, where she is now director of the National Gallery. The author of Butterfly Burning, she received the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa region) for Under the Toungue.
Published September 12, 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 144 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Butterfly Burning

Kirkus Reviews

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When Fumbatha meets much younger Phephelaphi, whose mother Gertrude was recently murdered, he is soon in love—as is Phephelaphi, who leaves Zandile, a friend of her mother's and a prostitute who has been taking care of her, and moves in with Fumbatha.

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Publishers Weekly

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After learning of Phephelaphi's abortion, Fumbatha destroys what little is left of Phephelaphi's self-worth by admitting to adultery and shedding a tragic light on her own parentage.

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