The Heart of Redness

A Novel

Zakes Mda

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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A startling novel by the leading writer of the new South Africa

In The Heart of Redness -- shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize -- Zakes Mda sets a story of South African village life against a notorious episode from the country's past. The result is a novel of great scope and deep human feeling, of passion and reconciliation.

As the novel opens Camugu, who left for America during apartheid, has returned to Johannesburg. Disillusioned by the problems of the new democracy, he follows his "famous lust" to Qolorha on the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess named Nonqawuse commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that once they did so the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the occupying English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the Xhosa into Believers and Unbelievers, dividing brother from brother, wife from husband, with devastating consequences.

One hundred fifty years later, the two groups' decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future -- and into a bizarre love triangle as well.

The Heart of Redness is a seamless weave of history, myth, and realist fiction. It is, arguably, the first great novel of the new South Africa -- a triumph of imaginative and historical writing.

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Book Excerpts

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Excerpt from The Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda. Copyright © 2002 by Zakes Mda. To be published in August, 2002 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.


"Tears are very close to my eyes," says Bhonco, son of Ximiya. "Not for pain . . . no . . . I do not cry because of pain. I cry only because of beautiful things."

And he cries often. Sometimes just a sniffle. Or a single tear down his cheek. As a result he carries a white handkerchief all the time, especially these days when peace has returned to the land and there is enough happiness to go around.

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Reviews

Praise for The Heart of Redness

"Brilliant . . . Mda has responded to South Africa's rapid changes and unpredictable transitions with a work that is itself a new kind of novel: one that combines Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magic realism and political astuteness with satire, social realism and a critical re-examination of the South African past."
--Tony Eprile, The New York Times Book Review

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About the Author

Zakes Mda

Zakes Mda, a novelist and playwright, has received every major South African prize for his work. Born in 1948, he has been a visiting professor at Yale and the University of Vermont. He is writer-in-residence at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. His previous novel, Ways of Dying, is available from Picador.

Zakes Mda

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Heart of Redness
A Novel
Zakes Mda

Award

Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Finalist, Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Winner

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780374708214
ISBN10: 0374708215
288 pages
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
August 2003
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312421748
ISBN10: 0312421745
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages
$16.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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