Futhi Ntshingila's new novel describes the safe coming together of most unlikely comrades

01 September 2021 - 12:47
Futhi Ntshingila's new novel is a tense, evocative and uplifting read.
Futhi Ntshingila's new novel is a tense, evocative and uplifting read.
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‘Futhi Ntshingila is a brilliant storyteller. The way in which she inhabits each character, portrays the inescapable inter-relatedness of humans and weaves the different layers of quite disparate lives is nothing short of magic.’Sindiwe Magona

Hans van Rooyen is a former police general raised by two women who survived the 1899 South African War. He finds himself being cared for in an old-age home by the daughter of liberation struggle activists. At 80, he carries with him the memories of crimes he committed as an officer under the apartheid government. Having eluded the public confessions at the TRC for his time in the Border Wars, he retained his position in the democratic SA, serving as an institutional memory for a new generation of police recruits.

Zoe Zondi is tasked to care for the old man. Her gentle and compassionate nature prompts Hans to review his decision to go to the grave with all his secrets. Zoe has her own life story to tell and, as their unlikely bond deepens, strengthened by the isolation that Covid-19 lockdown brings, they provide a safe space for each other to say the things that are often left unsaid.


Futhi Ntshingila is a writer from Pietermaritzburg. The author of Shameless and Do Not Go Gentle, her work centres on women and marginalised communities. Ntshingila holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution and lives and works in Pretoria.