Review of ‘Desperate’ by Virginia Phiri

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Virginia Phiri is a noted Zimbabwean author who is little known on this side of the Atlantic. She writes often about the problems faced by marginalized people in her native Zimbabwe. In Desperate, she takes on the issue of prostitution, and how and why women end up selling their bodies to strangers.

In a series of fictional narratives, Phiri paints evocative, and dark pictures of women such as Chido and Nhamo, who share one condition – desperation – that drives them to the fateful decision.

Phiri tells us in her preface to the book that while operating as a freedom fighter during Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence, her life was saved by a group of prostitutes who she never had the chance to thank. Desperate is her tribute to them and a plea to the world to think about how it treats women and how this treatment can push them down this desperate path.

This is one of Phiri’s first ventures in to e-Book publishing, so there are some formatting issues with the Kindle version. This does not, though, take anything away from her strong writing, as she gives voice to the voiceless. While Desperate does not quite rise to the level of her premier work, Highway Queen, it is nonetheless a book worth reading if you want to have a better understanding of life in a culture that is as alien as the dark side of the moon and to be introduced to an author who I predict will make as much impact in America as she already does in Zimbabwe.

Formatting issues aside, I give this book a solid four stars.