OVERRIDE

The Heart of Redness

A Novel

Zakes Mda

Picador

A New York Times Notable Book
Winner of the 2003 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

In The Heart of Redness—shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize—Zakes Mda sets a story of South African village life against a notorious episode from the country's past. As the novel opens, Camagu, 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 Nongqawuse 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' descendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camagu 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.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

1
“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. It is shared like pinches of snuff. Rivers of salt. They furrow the aged face.
Bhonco is different from the other Unbelievers in his family, for Unbelievers are reputed
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for The Heart of Redness

“Brilliant...A new kind of novel: one that combines Gabriel García Márquez’s magic realism and political astuteness with satire, social realism and a critical reexamination of the South African past.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Quiet, subtle, and powerful...Mda’s enormous skills as a storyteller are everywhere in evidence, making the book impossible to put down.” —The Washington Post

“A major step in the new South African novel.” —The Village Voice

“At once legend and historical document...Mda’s novel is the next Things Fall Apart....This is a major new novelist.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Zakes Mda

  • Zakes Mda, a novelist and playwright, has received every major South African prize for his work. A former visiting professor at Yale and the University of Vermont, he teaches at Ohio University and is the dramaturge at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. He lives in Athens, Ohio.
  • Zakes Mda Sal Idriss
    Zakes Mda
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

The Heart of Redness

A Novel

Zakes Mda

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

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

BACK

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

BACK