A child’s dangerous journey of discovery

27 August 2021 - 14:05 By pan macmillan
Mandla Langa's new novel captures the perspective of a vulnerable yet determined child.
Mandla Langa's new novel captures the perspective of a vulnerable yet determined child.
Image: Supplied

Pan Macmillan SA is proud to be releasing The Lost Language of the Soul, a new novel by Mandla Langa, available in September.


‘If I disappeared, I’d expect my children to search for me high and low. A mother disappearing goes against the laws of nature. Fathers disappear all the time; it’s their speciality.’

Langa captures with poignancy the perspective of a vulnerable yet determined child and the clashing emotions within him as he seeks to reunite his family.

Joseph Mabaso is used to his father Sobhuza’s long absences from the family home in Lusaka. Sobhuza is a freedom fighter and doing important work, and Joseph has learned not to ask questions. But when Chanda, his mother, disappears without a trace, leaving him and his siblings alone, Joseph knows something is terribly wrong.

So begins a journey — physically arduous, dangerous and emotionally fraught — no 14-year-old boy should have to undertake alone.

As Joseph navigates unfamiliar and often hostile territory in his search for his parents, he is on a parallel journey of discovery — one of identity and belonging — as he attempts to find a safe house that is truly safe, a language that understands all languages, and a place in his soul that feels like home.


Mandla Langa was born in Durban, grew up in KwaMashu, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1991 he was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain Bursary for creative writing, the first for a South African. Langa’s published works include the award-winning The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2008) and The Texture of Shadows (2014).