Literary Crossroads: Rewriting South African Landscapes
Guests: Zakes Mda and Nakhane Touré
Literary Crossroads is a new series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora to discuss trends, topics and themes prevalent in their literatures today. The series is curated by Indra Wussow.
Two writers of two generations meet and revisit the landscape of the Eastern Cape that is so much part of their writing.
This evening will offer insights in two very different literary advances to this South African heartland with its troubled history, its many cultures and its stories.
How do both works reveal the changing landscapes with its changing social and political parameters? How do their perspectives differ? The young writer who has always admired the elder and his literary mastery will introduce his first novel.
Zakes Mda is the pen name of Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda, a novelist, poet and playwright. He was born in the Eastern Cape in 1948. He spent his early childhood in Soweto, and finished his school education in Lesotho, where he joined his father in exile. Mda has studied and worked in South Africa, Lesotho, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and is a prolific writer of plays, novels, poems, and articles for academic journals and newspapers. His creative work includes paintings, and theatre and film productions. Mda is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University’s Department of English. His memoir, Sometimes there is a Void, was published in 2011. His Rachel’s Blue, in 2014.
He is presently Professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University.
He will share his latest novel Littles Suns (published in 2015) with us.
Known for his music, SAMA award-winning musician Nakhane Touré is changing tune with the release of his debut novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues. The novel, which has been described as reading fragments of a recurring dream, centres on the disastrous consequences of a man’s return to his Eastern Cape home town of Alice. Touré’s work is poetic with sensuous prose. His style delighted publisher, Thabiso Mahlape, who has described him as an ‘all-round artist’.
An overarching theme of the book, Touré says, is its exploration of the spiritual lives of black people. “You can see it in the characters, whether they are good or bad.” There is also the normalisation of gay sex, which Touré achieves by “writing about it in the plainest language possible”.
Touré credits K. Sello Duiker as “having opened up the gates for me to walk through”. He locates the three main protagonists of his book via a retelling of family trees. Able and deft, with an already recognisable voice, he admits to being “inspired by the episodic structure of the Bible, especially Genesis”.