Marginal Characters Crackle with Life in Chasing The Tails of My Father’s Cattle, a New Novel by Sindiwe Magona
“He reached down, softly laid a hand on the swaddling and said, ‘Here’s Shumikazi, Miseka.’ In that moment of sacred oneness, he beheld the dead-lips, bent down to her ear, and whispered, ‘Miseka … here is Shumikazi.”
This is the story of Shumikazi, the only surviving child of Jojo and Miseka. She grows up in a small village in the remote Eastern Cape during the days of white rule – from the outside, an apparently unremarkable life. And yet Shumi is marked for extraordinary things from the moment of her birth.
Wry, tragic, funny, scathing, with a Greek chorus of villagers’ voices, this rich new novel from one of South Africa’s most beloved storytellers underscores the dignity of those often rendered invisible – poor, rural women, their families and communities. These marginal characters crackle with life and verve as they step into the centre of the national narrative in Magona’s skilled hands. A powerful meditation on the vulnerability of rural women, it is also a series of overlapping love stories – above all, the love a father has for his daughter.
“Chasing the Tails of My Father’s Cattle is not like anything else I have seen. Such a little story, about such little, invisible people. Such a huge story, about such timeless, recognisable people. It has the feel of a Greek tragedy, complete with clucking chorus, but with more optimism. And what an extraordinary tale of the vast majority of women’s lives in this country. What a powerful, non-preachy meditation on the vulnerability of rural women in traditional cultures.” – Helen Moffett
About the Author
Born in the Transkei, Sindiwe Magona finished high school by correspondence. She later completed a BA through the University of South Africa and went on to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University in New York. She worked for the United Nations for 22 years at its headquarters in New York before retiring to her native South Africa. Magona is a prolific writer of children’s books, biography, poetry, short stories, plays and novels.
Magona is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Ikhamanga (2011) in recognition of her literary and humanitarian contribution. In 2012 she was joint winner with Nadine Gordimer of the Imbokodo Award.
- Chasing The Tails of My Father’s Cattle by Sindiwe Magona
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