In her piercing debut collection, Tales from Hlupekile, Xara Hlupekile ruminates on choice and action through four unflinching narratives of women, meek and bold; their comfort and discomfort in the relationships they share with men and other women; sex and sexuality as they desire it and as it is burdened on upon them; and the complications and consequences of their agency, or lack thereof.
A woman goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure her married boyfriend leaves his wife, at great personal cost. Two young girls navigate shame, exclusion and rumor mills, including that which they direct to each other. A mother and her three daughters contend with disappointment, divorce and disagreement. A reunion with friends and a salacious revelation brings a woman’s wedding ceremony and her entire world to its knees as she struggles to come to terms with who she married and who she has become. From the familiar contexts of the middle class to the extravagant reality of wealth, or rather adjacency to it, Xara delivers a stirring reflection on the often ruthless pragmatism of the contemporary Malawian female experience.