Thread of mystery woven through Niq Mhlongo's new novel 'Paradise in Gaza'

12 October 2020 - 14:45
Niq Mhlongo's latest novel explores city and rural life, interspersed with mystery.
Niq Mhlongo's latest novel explores city and rural life, interspersed with mystery.
Image: Supplied

A burial brings Mpisi Mpisani back to the village of this birth and the home of his first wife, Khanyisa.

His trip to Gaza Village in the homeland Gazankulu is meant to be short, since his second wife, waiting jealously in Soweto, will give birth any day now. He also needs to return to his job in Johannesburg.

Under apartheid law, being fired might mean forfeiting the right to return to the city altogether. But then Mpisi’s eight-year-old son, who accompanied him, disappears without a trace.

Wracked with worry, Mpisi stays to search for him. Is the boy lost or is there sorcery involved? Or is this a message from the ancestors, as some villagers suggest?

Meanwhile Mpisi’s city wife, Ntombazi, bears a boy with a birthmark that seems to be a sign ... His birth sets Ntombazi and Khanyisa’s lives on an unexpected path.

Niq Mhlongo is the best-selling author of the novels Dog Eat Dog, After Tears and Way Back Home. Dog Eat Dog was translated into Spanish and awarded the El Cobra Mar de Letras prize. His short story collection, Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree, won the Herman Charles Bosman Prize and the Nadine Gordimer Prize. He currently lives in Germany as a DAAD Berlin artist-in-residence.