Modern African Writing Series

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

Published by: Ohio University Press

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Modern African Writing Series

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After Tears

 Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems. In a community that thrives on imagined realities, Bafana decides that it’s easiest to create a lie that allows him to put off the truth indefinitely. Soon he’s in business with Yomi, a Nigerian friend who promises to help him solve all his problems by purchasing a fake graduation document. One lie leads to another as Bafana navigates through a world that readers will find both funny and grim.

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The Conscript

A Novel of Libya's Anticolonial War

Gebreyesus Hailu

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Dog Eat Dog

A Novel

Niq Mhlongo

Dog Eat Dog is a remarkable record of being young in a nation undergoing
tremendous turmoil, and provides a glimpse into South Africa’s
pivotal kwaito (South African hip-hop) generation and life in Soweto.


Set in 1994, just as South Africa is making its postapartheid transition,
Dog Eat Dog captures the hopes—and crushing disappointments—
that characterize such moments in a nation’s history.


Raucous and darkly humorous, Dog Eat Dog is narrated by Dingamanzi
Makhedama Njomane, a college student in South Africa who
spends his days partying, skipping class, and picking up girls. But
Dingz, as he is known to his friends, is living in charged times, and
his discouraging college life plays out against the backdrop of South
Africa’s first democratic elections, the spread of AIDS, and financial
difficulties that threaten to force him out of school.
 

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From Sleep Unbound

From Sleep Unbound portrays the life of Samya, an Egyptian woman who is taken at age 15 from her Catholic boarding school and forced into a loveless and humiliating marriage. Eventually sundered from every human attachment, Samya lapses into despair and despondence, and finally an emotionally caused paralysis. But when she shakes off the torpor of sleep, the sleep of avoidance, she awakens to action with the explosive energy of one who has been reborn.

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Paper Sons and Daughters

Growing up Chinese in South Africa

Ufrieda Ho

Ufrieda Ho’s compelling memoir describes with intimate detail what it was like to come of age in the marginalized Chinese community of Johannesburg during the apartheid era of the 1970s and 1980s. The Chinese were mostly ignored, as

Ho describes it, relegated to certain neighborhoods and certain jobs, living in a kind of gray zone between the blacks and the whites. As long as they adhered to these rules, they were left alone. Ho describes the separate journeys her parents took before they knew one another, each leaving China and Hong Kong around the early1960s, arriving in South Africa as illegal immigrants. Her father eventually became a so-called “fahfee man,” running a small-time numbers game in the black townships, one of the few opportunities available to him at that time. In loving detail, Ho describes her father’s work habits: the often mysterious selection of numbers at the kitchen table, the carefully-kept account ledgers, and especially the daily drives into the townships, where he conducted business on street corners from the seat of his car. Sometimes Ufrieda accompanied him on these township visits, offering her an illuminating perspective into a stratified society. Poignantly, it was on such a visit that her father—who is very much a central figure in Ho’s memoir—met with a tragic end.

In many ways, life for the Chinese in South Africa was self-contained. Working hard, minding the rules, and avoiding confrontations, they were able to follow traditional Chinese ways. But for Ufrieda, who was born in South Africa, influences from the surrounding culture crept into her life, as did a political awakening. Paper Sons and Daughters is a wonderfully told family history that will resonate with anyone having an interest in the experiences of Chinese immigrants, or perhaps any immigrants, the world over.

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