One of my favourite movies is Quentin Tarantino offering From Dusk Till Dawn. The 1997 movie with a starring cast including George Clooney and Salma Hayek begins as a sort of prison break type movie. The movie begins with George Clooney and Tarantino as criminals who escape into Mexico taking hostages along the way. They go to a place to meet a contact who would help then live in Mexico and suddenly the movie changes as it turns out they are trapped in a nest of vampires. So from action movie to horror flick all in one movie.
Thats the feeling I get when I read Niq Mhlongo’s new Kwela published book Way Back Home. The third book from the Soweto based author starts with the story of Kimathi Fezile Tito a South African who was born in Tanzania as an exile in the struggle against the apartheid regime. After independence he moves back to Jo’burg and starts a business using his contacts in the liberation struggle to take advantage of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program of South Africa. The book follows him as he seeks his biggest deal ever with his liberation days colleagues. We are reading a compelling story on a gentleman estranged with his wife with a drinking and need for flesh looking for business. Very nice story no?
Flashbacks are a huge part of the story as we are given glimpses of the life that the people in the South African liberation struggle had to go through which was very insightful. It helped with the narrative of the man with troubles although as you read you are left wondering where on earth the author is taking you. The writing is excellent so you stick with it.
The story slowly starts taking a turn as we start seeing the less physical. Ghosts. Weird imaginings. Suddenly the book is on the metaphysical trip with Kimathi having to go to his old camp in Angola to exorcise ghosts to set things right. The ending is shocking to say the very least.
This is one of the better books I have read this year. I like that the main protagonist in the book is called Kimathi (after our independence day hero Dedan Kimathi) being proudly Kenyan and all that. But the book also teaches us about the less than amazing tender processes in South Africa which I suspect would apply to the local situation. It offers lessons on the reasoning on some of the liberation heroes in SA as they fought around the continent for their country’s freedom.
More importantly it tells one where the get the largest variety of ladies (and shemales) of the night for pay in Johannesburg. So I like the book mightily.
Pick up a copy of this book. I read it in one seating so if you start reading you want to have little else on your plate that day or night. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
:: Niq Mhlongo reads from Way Back Home – Video