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Almost unknown at home, Musa Ngqungwana has sung in the world’s opera capitals, writes Claire Keeton

Published in the Sunday Times

Musa Ngqungwana’s memoir talks about the man behind the voice. Pic: Simphiwe Nkwali. © Sunday Times

 
Odyssey of an African Opera Singer
***
Musa Ngqungwana, Penguin Books, R250

Performing the title role of Porgy in New York last year, PE-born opera star Musa Ngqungwana looked out into the dark behind the conductor and saw rows of people crying. “Then the curtain came down. We got a standing ovation. We came out for four bows,” he says, his eyes misty. “It was a surreal moment.”

From his early days in a church choir bass-baritone Ngqungwana has performed in the US, Canada, UK, Norway and Italy and won critical acclaim internationally.

When he turned 16 he applied for a passport. As a teenager scraping by in Zwide, he told no one about standing in line for a passport. “A classmate once told me I was a dreamer when I said that one day I would travel the world,” he wrote in his new memoir, Odyssey of an African Opera Singer.

This expands on his first self-published memoir with revealing insights about his life, including how hard he found the absence of his father while growing up.

The first black man he saw singing opera in a video, bass-baritone Willard White, inspired him as a schoolboy to follow his voice. Now at age 35, he has never looked back.

In Joburg for an interview, Ngqungwana says: “I know 10 guys who can outsing me or act better but only 5% of opera is about singing. Your brain is 95%.”

Ngqungwana lives in Philadelphia, US, where he moved to study at the acclaimed Academy of Vocal Arts after graduating from UCT magna cum laude. His immersion into the academy was a shock.

French pianist Laurent Philippe was brutal in his first coaching session. “He arrived late on purpose and said hello to me in French. As I started singing he said: ‘I hear this remarkable voice but it does not match what I’m seeing.’ He was very rude about my weight and called me a black rhino.”

But they formed a good relationship and Philippe even accompanied Ngqungwana to South Africa as his pianist when he entered the Standard Bank Young Artists competition at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in 2015.

The night that Ngqungwana triumphed in Grahamstown was one of the highlights of his career. Growing up he couldn’t afford to go to the SA Music Awards (Samas) when they were held in PE.

Ngqungwana said: “This is why performing there was a big deal for me, it was our (classical) version of the Samas.”

He wondered whether people would come from his childhood home 120km away because it was raining that night and opera was seen as Eurocentric. He said: “Philippe said to me: ‘I thought we were coming to Africa but we have done two concerts and hardly seen any black people.’”

Ngqungwana’s first choirmaster, Makhaya Msizi, was in the audience though his mother was not. He has struggled with his absent father and estrangement from most of his family most of his life, yet seems to have made peace with this, and helps his mother. “I do not cling to the past,” he said.

Ngqungwana’s vulnerability and vision shine through in this account of his inspiring life. He is meticulous, even pedantic, about paying tribute to the many people who helped him at every stage of his life. His honesty gives a glimpse of his life offstage, of the man behind the costumes and the face paint.

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Winging It is the poignant, tender and at times downright funny story of Jonathan Kaplan's decision to have a baby by surrogate

Jonathan Kaplan, celebrated international rugby referee and former world record-holder for most Test caps, had his fair share of challenging moments on the field.

He was known for his commitment to fair play, ability to defuse tense situations, and courage in making difficult, and sometimes controversial, decisions. All this would stand JK in good stead and come back into play when, at the age of 47, he made two life-changing decisions.

The first was to blow his whistle for the last time and end his career as a professional rugby ref. The second was to become a parent – and a solo parent at that. This is the story of JK’s decision to have a baby by surrogate, the two-year fertility process that followed, and the subsequent birth of his son Kaleb.

Winging It draws on the insights of key role-players in JK’s journey, including the extraordinary experience of the surrogate mother herself. Exchanging rucks for reflux, mauls for milk bottles, scrums for storks (and other stories about Kaleb’s conception), this account of how JK navigates the choppy waters of parenthood is disarmingly frank and scrupulously honest.

At times poignant and tender, and at others downright funny, this is a thoroughly contemporary take on what constitutes a family and how we dare to build one.

Joanne Jowell is the author of the bestselling biographies On the Other Side of Shame: An Extraordinary Account of Adoption and Reunion (2009), Finding Sarah: A True Story of Living with Bulimia (2011) and The Crazy Life of Larry Joe: A Journey on the Streets and Stage (2014). She lives in Cape Town with her husband and three children.

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Sunday Times Literary Awards Longlist 2018 announced

Announcing the longlists for South Africa’s most prestigious annual literary awards, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The shortlists will be announced in May.

BARRY RONGE FICTION PRIZE

This is the 18th year of the Sunday Times fiction prize, named for Barry Ronge, the arts commentator who was one of the founders of our literary awards. The criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of “rare imagination and style . . . a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”.

“South African novelists have once again demonstrated their creative power. This year’s longlist invites the reader to tussle with uncomfortable questions of politics, loss, greed, mythology, heroism and trauma.

Vivid storytelling and unflinching characterization help us to explore vulnerabilities in our quest for love, justice, kindness and compassion. What particularly stands out this year is the inspiration drawn from the complicated relationship between fact and fiction. Some of the authors deftly draw us in to grapple with contemporary South African issues of rampant corruption, devastating greed, and gender disparity. Others bravely take us on a tour of an unkind history and give us a new lens through which to examine our reflections.

Many of the stories are deeply personal, allowing the reader to resonate, on a human level, with the characters’ innermost fears, secret fantasies and their darkest sins. The novels will compel you to examine your humanity, question your unease and define your aspirations. The longlist lays bare the complex and confused time we live in. What an incredible joy and honour to have delighted in these stories that pierce at our hearts. It is going to be very difficult to choose one winner.” - Africa Melane

LONGLIST

Selling LipService, Tammy Baikie (Jacana Media)

Grace, Barbara Boswell (Modjaji Books)

A Handful of Earth, Simon Bruinders (Penguin Books)

Softness of the Lime, Maxine Case (Umuzi)

Dikeledi, Achmat Dangor (Picador Africa)

Accident, Dawn Garisch (Modjaji Books)

Bare Ground, Peter Harris, (Picador Africa)

I am Pandarus, Michiel Heyns (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, Harry Kalmer (Penguin)

Dancing the Death Drill, Fred Khumalo (Umuzi)

Asylum, Marcus Low (Picador Africa)

The Blessed Girl, Angela Makholwa (Pan Macmillan)

Johannesburg, Fiona Melrose (Little, Brown)

If I Stay Right Here, Chwayita Ngamlana (Blackbird Books)

The Last Stop, Thabiso Mofokeng (Blackbird Books)

The Third Reel, SJ Naudé (Umuzi)

Unpresidented, Paige Nick (B&N)

Imitation, Leonhard Praeg (UKZN Press)

Bird-Monk Seding, Lesego Rampolokeng (Deep South)

New Times, Rehana Rossouw (Jacana Media)

The Camp Whore, Francois Smith – translated by Dominique Botha (Tafelberg)

Spire, Fiona Snyckers (Clockwork Books)

Son/Seun, Neil Sonnekus (MF Books Joburg)

A Gap in the Hedge, Johan Vlok Louw (Umuzi)

The Shallows, Ingrid Winterbach – translated by Michiel Heyns (Human & Rousseau)

JUDGES

Africa Melane – Chair

Melane is the host of the Weekend Breakfast Show on CapeTalk. He is also an ambassador for LeadSA, an initiative of Primedia Broadcasting and Independent Newspapers. Melane studied accounting at the University of Cape Town and did articles at PwC. He then went on to teach a professional development course to first-year students in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Cape Town. Melane is the chairman of MODILA, a trust that offers educational programmes to raise awareness and provides training in design, innovation, entrepreneurship and art studies. He also serves on the board of Cape Town Opera, Africa’s premier opera company.
 
 
Kate Rogan

Rogan is the owner of Love Books, an independent book shop in Johannesburg. Rogan has a degree in English from the University of Cape Town and a post-graduate degree English (Hons) from Stellenbosch University, where she studied under Michiel Heyns. She started her working life as a copywriter at 702, then moved into publishing where she was a commissioning editor at Zebra Press in its early days. She moved back to radio as a producer and for many years produced The Book Show for Jenny Crwys-Williams. In 2009 she started Love Books.
 
 
 

Ken Barris

Barris is a writer, book critic, NRF-rated academic, poet and keen photographer. His work has been translated into Turkish, Danish, French, German and Slovenian, and has appeared in about 30 anthologies. He has won various literary awards, including the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the M-Net Book Prize, and most recently, the University of Johannesburg Prize, for his novel Life Underwater. He has published five novels, two collections of poetry, and two collections of short stories. The most recent, The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions, was released last year.
 
 
 
ALAN PATON NON-FICTION AWARD

This is the 29th year the Alan Paton Award will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

“It is inspiring to note that out of the 25 books on a very prestigious long list, eight have been written by women, and as two of the books have been co-authored, it means we have 10 female authors in the running.

Dominant trends this year include corruption and state capture which are probed mercilessly. The Gupta family’s wheeling and dealing as well as the former President Jacob Zuma’s alleged malfeasance come under intense scrutiny from several quarters. There are journeys into the criminal underworld and insights into past and present spy networks that read like thrillers, and a selection of moving biographies and memoirs of courageous struggles by contemporary and historic figures. These intensely personal accounts help us understand the bigger picture. There are also specialist offerings that delve into topics as diverse as regional history, social activism, sport, anthropology and feminism.

Each of the books on the 2018 long list is like a pointer on a road map, illuminating the place in which we now find ourselves. A common thread running through the longlisted books is the question of how on earth did we get here? At the TRC hearings a sentiment repeated like a litany over many months, was that of people just wanting to know what happened. Revenge, compensation or retribution seemed to take a backseat for many testifying. We need to know what happened if we want to shape a solid, healthier future and together these books answer myriad questions about the road we have travelled as a nation.” - Sylvia Vollenhoven

LONGLIST

Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson, Jonathan Ancer (Jacana Media)

Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo Naledi, Lee Berger (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

65 Years of Friendship, George Bizos (Umuzi)

Rule of Law: A Memoir, Glynnis Breytenbach with Nechama Brodie (Pan Macmillan)

Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist, Pumla Dineo Gqola (MF Books Joburg)

Kingdom, Power, Glory: Mugabe, Zanu and the Quest for Supremacy 1960-87, Stuart Doran (Bookstorm)

Skollie: One Man’s Struggle to Survive by Telling Stories, John W Fredericks (Zebra Press)

No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela, Thandeka Gqubule (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, Lindiwe Hani and Melinda Ferguson (MF Books Joburg)

Get Up! Stand Up! Personal Journeys Towards Social Justice, Mark Heywood (Tafelberg)

A Simple Man: Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma, Ronnie Kasrils (Jacana Media)

Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years, Nelson Mandela and Mandla Langa (Pan Macmillan)

Unmasked: Why The ANC Failed to Govern, Khulu Mbatha (KMMR)

Being a Black Springbok: The Thando Manana Story, Sibusiso Mjikeliso (Pan Macmillan)

Democracy & Delusion: 10 Myths in South African Politics, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (Tafelberg)

Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home, Sisonke Msimang (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The Republic of Gupta: A Story of State Capture, Pieter-Louis Myburgh (Penguin Books)

The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, Bongani Ngqulunga (Penguin Books)

Colour Me Yellow: Searching for my family truth, Thuli Nhlapo (Kwela)

How to Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay, Crispian Olver (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison, Jacques Pauw (Tafelberg)

Miss Behave, Malebo Sephodi (Blackbird Books)

Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld, Mark Shaw (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Khwezi: The Remarkable Story Of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, Redi Tlhabi (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Hennie van Vuuren (Jacana Media)

JUDGES

Sylvia Vollenhoven – Chair

Vollenhoven is a writer, journalist and filmmaker whose work has won many awards including the 2016 Mbokodo Award for Literature and the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts. Vollenhoven was the South African producer for the BBC mini-series Mandela the Living Legend, and is also a Knight Fellow, which is funded by the John S. and James L Knight Foundation with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
 
 
Edwin Cameron

Cameron has been a Justice of South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, since 2009. Previously a human rights lawyer, President Mandela appointed him a Judge of the High Court in 1994 and he went on to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal. He was a fierce critic of President Mbeki’s AIDS-denialist policies. Cameron’s memoir Witness to AIDS was joint winner of the Alan Paton Prize in 2005 and his second memoir Justice: A Personal Account won a South African Literary Award in 2014. He has received many honours for his legal and human rights work.
 
 
 
 
 
Paddi Clay

Clay has more than 40 years of experience in the media, covering radio, print, and online journalism. She has a BA Degree in English and Drama from UCT and an MA in Journalism Leadership from the University of Central Lancashire, UK. She has reported for the Rand Daily Mail and Capital Radio, and wrote for the FT and US News and World Report. A life-long campaigner for freedom of expression and a free, independent, media, she spent 15 years as head of the Graduate Journalism Training Programme at what is now Tiso Blackstar and retired in January 2017. She continues to coach and lecture.
 
 
 
 

 
Book details

 
 
 
 
Almost Human

 
 
 
 
65 Years of Friendship

 
 
 
 
Rule of Law

 
 
 
 
Reflecting Rogue

 
 
 
 
Kingdom, power, glory

 
 
 
 
Skollie

 
 
 
 
No Longer Whispering to Power

 
 
 
 
Being Chris Hani's Daughter

 
 
 
 
Get Up! Stand Up!

 
 
 
 
A Simple Man

 
 
 
 
Dare Not Linger

 
 
 
 
Unmasked

 
 
 
 
Being a Black Springbok

 
 
 
 
Democracy and Delusion

 
 
 
 
Always Another Country

 
 
 
 
The Republic of Gupta

 
 
 
 
The Man Who Founded the ANC

 
 
 
 
Colour Me Yellow

 
 
 
 
How To Steal A City

 
 
 
 
The President's Keeper

 
 
 
 
Miss Behave

 
 
 
 
Hitmen for Hire

 
 
 
 
Khwezi

 
 
 
 
Apartheid Guns and Money

 
 
 
 
Selling Lip Service

 
 
 
 
Grace

 
 
 
 
A Handful of Earth

 
 
 
 
Softness of the Lime

 
 
 
 
Dikeledi

 
 
 
 
Accident

 
 
 
 
Bare Ground

 
 
 
 
I am Pandarus

 
 
 
 
A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg

 
 
 
 
Dancing the Death Drill

 
 
 
 
Asylum

 
 
 
 
The Blessed Girl

 
 
 
 
Johannesburg

 
 
 
 
If I Stay Right Here

 
 
 
 
The Last Stop

 
 
 
 
The Third Reel

 
 
 
 
Unpresidented

 
 
 
 
Imitation

 
 
 
 
Bird-Monk Seding

 
 
 
 
New Times

 
 
 
 
The Camp Whore

 
 
 
 
SPIRE

 
 
 
 
Son

 
 
 
 
A Gap in the Hedge

 
 
 
 
The Shallows

Margaret von Klemperer reviews Musa Ngqungwana’s moving memoir, Odyssey of an African Opera Singer

Published in The Witness: 26/03/2018

Odyssey of an African Opera Singer
Musa Ngqungwana
Penguin Books

South Africa is rich in musical talent, but as Musa Ngqungwana’s moving memoir makes clear, whether it is discovered or not is something of a hit and miss affair. In his case, it has taken an immense determination to learn and succeed, along with a couple of lucky breaks, to see him travel from poverty in Zwide township outside Port Elizabeth to a home in Philadelphia and roles on some of the world’s top opera stages.

The contrast between his background – poor and political, with two uncles locked up on Robben Island – and his chosen art form-– Western and potentially elitist – could hardly be more marked. It also taps into the cultural appropriation debate that gets aired regularly in the world of the arts, and can be guaranteed to raise tempers. For me, the power of any art form to cross boundaries both real and imagined is its greatest strength, and something to be celebrated.

Like so many African singers, Ngqungwana came to singing through church choirs, where his astonishing voice was first recognised. But it was only later, after a failed attempt to study engineering which was ended by a lack of money, that he began to realise that music could be a career, albeit an always insecure one. It became an all-encompassing passion.

Success in various competitions eventually saw him at UCT’s opera school, and he pays generous tribute to those who helped him. But it wasn’t all easy for the township boy, pitched into an overwhelmingly middle-class university, short of money and lacking the basic musical training that many of his peers had had. Also, music as a career can be an anti-social one, and took its toll on many of his relationships, both with girlfriends and family.

Scholarships took him to America, and again, the early years were a struggle. Having been a biggish fish in the small South African pond, the realisation that he was just one more hopeful was hard to take, but Ngqungwana persevered, and although he is the first to admit that he is still learning his craft, his book shows him to be one of his homeland’s most admirable exports.

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Do you want to write your memoir? Melinda Ferguson shares the know-how with Sara-Jayne King...

Melinda Ferguson, the author of memoirs Smacked, Hooked, and Crashed, is launching an online memoir writing course, ‘The Magic of Making a Start’.

Ferguson, an acclaimed publisher to boot, has been hosting writing workshops in both Cape Town and Joburg for the past 18 months.

She recently was a guest on fellow memoirist (Killing Karoline) and radio host Sara-Jayne King’s Cape Talk programme, during which the two discussed her digital debut.

Give it a listen!

Smacked

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Hooked
 

 
Crashed

 
 
 

Killing Karoline

Five local eBooks to read this March

Blood Money
Johan Raath

‘Shortly after we took off from the check point I saw an old Opel with young men trying to pass us… I remember the cracks of the AK-47 bullets when it came through our windscreen. Our driver drew his pistol and fired back with his right hand while trying to control the speeding vehicle with his left.’

Johan Raath and a security team were escorting American engineers to a power plant south of Baghdad when they were ambushed. He had first arrived in Iraq only two weeks before. This was a small taste of what was to come over the next 13 years he worked there as a private military contractor (PMC).

His mission? Not to wage war but to protect lives. Raath acted as a bodyguard for VIPs and, more often, engineers who were involved in construction projects to rebuild the country after the 2003 war. His physical and mental endurance was tested to the limit in his efforts to safeguard construction sites that were regularly subjected to mortar and suicide attacks. Key to his survival was his training as a Special Forces operator, or Recce.

Working in places called the Triangle of Death and driving on the ‘Hell Run’, Raath had numerous hair-raising experiences. As a trained combat medic he also helped to save people’s lives after two suicide bomb attacks on sites he then worked at.
 
Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup
Sam Beckbessinger

‘We never get an instruction manual about how money works. We never have to pass a test to get our Money License before we can take a new credit card for a drive. Most of what we learn about money comes from advertising or from other people who know as little as we do.

No wonder we make such basic mistakes. No wonder we feel disempowered and scared. No wonder so many of us just decide to stick our heads in the damn sand and just never deal with it.

I wrote this book, because so many of the people I spoke to told me that they wished someone would.’

In this clear and engaging basic guide to managing your finances, Sam Beckbessinger covers topics from compound interest and inflation to “Your brain on money”, negotiating a raise, and particularly local South African phenomena like “black tax”.

The book includes exercises and “how-to’s”, doesn’t shy away from the psychology of money, and is empowering, humorous and helpful. The book you wish you’d had at 25, but is never too late to read.

Sam Beckbessinger is a writer, user-experience designer and entrepreneur who is on a quest to help the emerging middle class understand how to take charge of their finances. She is the cofounder of Phantom Design, a company that has helped to build bitcoin wallets, cryptocurrency exchanges, smart credit cards and more. She also lectures extensively on online culture, marketing and behavioural economics. Sam holds a BA Honours Degree from the University of Cape Town, studied Strategy Design at the Gordon Institute of Business Science and was a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow at Yale University.
 
The Expert Landlord
David Beattie

You have a residential investment property. Perhaps you are already renting it out. But are you doing it like a pro and do you know how to maximise your return from it? In this book, property management expert David Beattie distils two decades of experience into easy-to-implement steps and shows you how to manage your property like a professional landlord. His goal is to help you make more money in less time and with fewer hassles, by showing you how to run your property investment like a business; navigate and comply with South African rental laws with ease; attract, screen, place and keep high-quality tenants; ensure successful and consistent rent collection; and maintain your property with the least effort and money. The book also includes templates for all the documents the prospective landlord needs.

David Beattie is a well-known property expert in South Africa. He is the founder and director of Chorus Letting, a leading residential property rental agency managing 2000 properties across Cape Town and Johannesburg. More recently, David has turned his attention to the growing market of private landlords. He is also the founder of PocketLet, a tool for private landlords to effectively manage their own properties.
 
The Villager: How Africans Consume Brands
Feyi Olubodun

When Feyi Olubodun, CEO of one one of West Africa’s leading creative agencies, witnessed one too many cases of brands failing in the African marketplace he began to ask himself questions:

* Why did brands, both global and local, so often fail to connect with the African consumer?

* What was it about the African market that brand owners were not seeing?

He began to reflect on his own marketing experiences and out of this emerged the framework for The Villager.

In Feyi’s view, the African consumer begins his life’s journey by moving from the village, his rural dwelling, to the city, carrying with him not only his own dreams but also the dreams of his community. He is a highly aspirational consumer, motivated to succeed, and he becomes the economic portal for the rest of his community back home. But although he may be exposed to global influences and technology, his essential identity remains largely intact. This is why Feyi calls the African consumer a Villager. The Village is no longer a physical space; it is a psychological construct that defines him and the filter through which he engages with and consumes brands.

In developing his construct, Feyi posits that if you wish to engage successfully in a market you may not understand, you must have the right ‘lenses’ to view a people. He believes the secret lies in applying these lenses at the confluence of commerce, culture and consumer. Data is not enough to understand the vagaries of a particular market. Drawing on his wide experience and wealth of astute observations, he provides a highly readable and indispensable guide to the mindset of the African consumer today, yet it is true to say that his insights apply, albeit in a more nuanced way, to consumer behaviour across the globe.

The Villager is essential reading for brand owners wishing to conquer new markets.

Feyi Olubodun spent four years at medical school before changing to another course of study. He transferred his interest in humans from the anatomical to the psychological and graduated with a degree in psychology.

He worked as a Data Analyst and Marketer Researcher, at TNS-RMS for several years and later at Insight Publicis, where he was Strategy Director for before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Along the way Feyi got his Global Executive MBA from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, and in 2016 he was appointed Managing Director/CEO of Insight Publicis Nigeria.
 
Like Sodium in Water
Hayden Eastwood

“Dad thinks lots of things are right-wing. He even thinks He-Man is right-wing. I ask Dad who we are and he says left-wing. Left is opposite to right. If right is bad, then we’re the opposite of that, which means we’re good.”

It’s post-independence Zimbabwe and an atmosphere of nostalgia hangs over much of Harare’s remaining white community. Hayden Eastwood grows up in a family that sets itself apart, distinguishing themselves from Rhodie-Rhodies through their politics: left is good; right is bad.

Within the family’s free and easy approach to life, Hayden and his younger brother, Dan, make a pact to never grow up, to play hide and seek and build forts forever, and to never, ever be interested in girls. But as Hayden and Dan develop as teenagers, and the chemicals of adolescence begin to stir, their childhood pact starts to unravel.

And with the arrival of Sarah into their lives, the two brothers find themselves embroiled in an unspoken love triangle. While Sarah and Hayden spend increasing amounts of time together, Dan is left to deal with feelings of rejection and the burden of hidden passion alone, and the demise of a silly promise brings with it a wave of destruction.

Laced with humour, anger and sadness, Like Sodium in Water is an account of a family in crisis and an exploration of how we only abandon the lies we tell ourselves when we have no other option.

When not informing people about the inadvisability of push-starting motorbikes in close proximity to rivers, Hayden Eastwood develops cryptocurrency trading bots as part of a high-risk low-return business venture portfolio. Non-transferable skills from a doctorate in computational physics have likewise ill-equipped him for gooseberry farming, vehicle maintenance and relationships with women. He lives in Harare.

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