Review of Tlotlo Tsamaase, “Murders Fell from Our Wombs”, Apex Magazine 107 (2018): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.
A village in Motswana is haunted by a serial killer. Every month, a woman is killed. Every month, a young woman watches the murder happen in her dreams, during her menstruation. This young woman, Game, wants nothing more than to escape her village, her poverty, her curse, and to attend university. One month, the pattern shifts, and men become the victims. This small shift causes a huge cascade in Game’s life, and forms the heart of the story.
It’s an enticing premise, braiding together a feminist sensibility with cultural awareness and a clear understanding of poverty and how all of these can trap a person, bend their lives in ways that they can’t really control. To call it intersectional feels like an understatement.
The setting is phenomenally realized, which makes sense, since the author is Motswana herself. She does a fantastic job of painting a clear picture of that world, both the isolated village that Game comes from, but also the city that she eventually moves to for university. I felt transported to a place far outside of my experience, which seems to me to be one of the best things fiction can do.
I wanted to like this story more than I did. It’s obviously brilliant, dealing with big, important themes with subtlety, grace, and intelligence. Despite that, I had some trouble following the plot. I suspect that this story just isn’t meant for me, a white middle-class American, and that is fine. I can still tell it’s a masterful story, and well-worth reading.