She Plays with the Darkness A Novel

Zakes Mda




Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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Winner of the Sanlam Literary Award for Best Unpublished Novel

In a remote mountain village, the beautiful Dikosha lives for dancing and for song. Her twin brother, Radisene, works in the lowland capital of Maseru, struggling amid political upheaval to find a life for himself away from the hills.

As the years pass, Radisene's fortunes rise and fall in the city, while Dikosha remains in the village, never leaving and never aging. And through it all, the community watches, comments, and passes judgment. From one of world literature's most vivid voices, this is a story of love, magic, and betrayal in the misty mountain country of Lesotho.


Praise for She Plays with the Darkness

"Beautiful [and] thoughtful."—Carolyn See, The Washington Post

"Like all Mda's novels, including The Heart of Redness, this contemporary story of southern Africa places contemporary politics in the context of family and community, past and present. The setting here is a mountain village in Lesotho, on the South African border. Radisene is close to his beloved sister, Dikosha, until he leaves for the capital city, Maseru, where he becomes a smart ambulance-chaser, so successful in his machinations that he even sends money back to the village to build his mother a mansion. Dikosha refuses to have anything to do with him. In fact, she lives in her own world of magic and music, closely in touch with the dancers in the local cave paintings that were created by the Bushmen long before the Sotho came there and took the land. Mda's blend of magical realism and the cruel farce of national politics reveals the wildness everywhere. At the heart of the story is the mountain community, never idyllic, bursting with jealousy and spite, yet home through drought, snow, and mist."—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Zakes Mda

  • Zakes Mda, who has received every major South African prize for his work as a novelist and playwright, has taught at Yale and the University of Vermont. The author of The Heart of Redness, which won the 2003 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, and Ways of Dying, he is now a professor of creative writing at Ohio University.

  • Zakes Mda Sal Idriss
    Zakes Mda