Synopses & Reviews
In the timeless kingdom of Mapungubwe, the royal sculptor had two sons, Chata and Rendani. As they grew, so grew their rivalryand their extraordinary talents. But while Rendani became a master carver of the animals that run in the wild hills and lush valleys of the land, Chata learned to carve fantastic beings from his dreams, creatures never before seen on the Earth.
From this natural rivalry between brothers, Zakes Mda crafts an irresistibly rich fable of love and family. What makes the better art, perfect mimicry or inspiration? Who makes the better wife, a princess or a mysterious dancer? Ageless and contemporary, deceptive in its simplicity and mythical in its scope, The Sculptors of Mapungubwe encompasses all we know of love, envy, and the artists primal power to forge art from nature and nature into art. Mdas newest novel will only strengthen his international reputation as one of the most trenchant voices of South Africa.
“Brilliant...A new kind of novel: one that combines Gabriel García Márquezs 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...Mdas 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“At once legend and historical document...Mdas novel is the next Things Fall Apart....This is a major new novelist.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune
"An engaging and interesting read."
"Vivid inventiveness and acerbic iconoclasm . . . Tender humor and brutal violence vie with each other in Zakes Mdas pages, as do vibrant life and sudden death. The struggle between them creates an energetic and refreshing literature for a country still coming to terms with both the new and the old."
"Mda has based his story on the research on the kingdom done by many archaeologists and historians, whom he acknowledges.From scant solid information he has spun a fluid and engaging tale. His two main characters are sculptors, Chatambudza (called Chata mostly) and Rendani, the apprentice and son respectively of the royal sculptor, and Mda lets their lives unfold with effortless simplicity and rich detail."
“A fascinating and beautiful narrative arena . . . The Sculptors of Mapungubwe is a void-filling project, not least because it brings to life a time and place ignored by history.”
Camugu, recently returned to Johannesburg and disillusioned by the new democracy, moves to the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the people in two, with devastating consequences. One hundred and fifty years later, the two groups decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future—and into a bizarre love triangle as well.
About the Author
, 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.