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The Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda
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The Heart of Redness (2000)

by Zakes Mda

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Read during Summer 2004

My first impression was that I was never going to know who was who in the maze of characters but I ended up thoroughly enjoying the novel. The story line shifts between modern South Africa and the time when the Brittish began to conquoer and colonize and follows one family that splits bewteen the Believers and Non-Believers. The Believers follow a prophetess who tells them to kill their cattle, destroy their grain, and wait for the coming of the anscestors. The Brittish try to play these groups off each other and the struggle continues into modern South Africa and attempts to bring a gambling touirst spot to the village. The tug between Western and traditional cultures is part of the struggle but also who is able to speak for the village or what is progress for the village. Worth getting over the slightly scattered start.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
A worthwhile but not particularly enjoyable read. A novel based on the history and society of South Africa told from a xhosa point of view. But it's too dry and uninvolving. The characters aren't fleshed out. It relies too much on xhosa folklore for its plot. I expect it would be more popular with people who know more about the country. ( )
  Steve38 | Nov 20, 2011 |
This is the parallel story of colonized South Africa of 150 years ago and post-apartheid South Africa. 150 years ago, two brothers split over their different beliefs of a teenage prophetess' warning that only the slaughtering of all cattle will allow the new generation of people (the ancestors) to arrive and drive away the whites. The miracle never happened, of course, and many starved as a result.

Now in the present day, the learned man Camagu, born in South Africa but exiled and educated in America, comes to Qolorha-at-Sea, where he lands in the middle of an ongoing battle between the Believers and Unbelievers about whether the development of the lands by the whites' companies is good for their village. There is also a mysterious yet satisfying love story.

Heart of Redness is beautifully written, and Zakes Mda has been compared to the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Chinua Achebe. This is a book that you will devour because it's so well written, and yet it will stay with you as you ponder the pros and cons of the characters' situations. ( )
1 vote stephxsu | Apr 18, 2009 |
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Er is een levensechte koopman in Qolorha, Rufus Hulley, die me meenam naar wonderlijke plaatsen van een onuitsprekelijke schoonheid. Hij moet niet worden verward met John Dalton, de fictieve winkelier in Het rode hart. Ik dank Rufus, en ook Jeff Peires, wiens onderzoek - prachtig op papier gezet in The Dead Will Arise - de basis vormde voor de historische gebeurtenissen in mijn boek. Wat de inwoners van Qolorha betreft, zij zullen mij willen vergeven dat ik aan hun leven een nieuwe invulling heb gegeven. Ik heb deze roman geschreven ter ere van het nieuwe leven, waartoe ik mijn eigen zoon Zukile reken, mijn dochter Zukiswa Zenzile Moroesi en haar zoon Wandile.
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Vert. van: The heart of redness. - Cape Town [etc.] : Oxford University Press, 2000. - (Southern African fiction)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312421745, Paperback)

Camugu, recently returned to Johannesburg and disillusioned by the new democracy, moves to the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the people in two, with devastating consequences. One hundred and fifty years later, the two groups’ decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future—and into a bizarre love triangle as well.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:41 -0400)

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A startling novel by the leading writer of the new South Africa In The Heart of Redness -- shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize -- Zakes Mda sets a story of South African village life against a notorious episode from the country's past. The result is a novel of great scope and deep human feeling, of passion and reconciliation. As the novel opens Camugu, who left for America during apartheid, has returned to Johannesburg. Disillusioned by the problems of the new democracy, he follows his "famous lust" to Qolorha on the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess named Nonqawuse commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that once they did so the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the occupying English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the Xhosa into Believers and Unbelievers, dividing brother from brother, wife from husband, with devastating consequences. One hundred fifty years later, the two groups' decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future -- and into a bizarre love triangle as well. The Heart of Redness is a seamless weave of history, myth, and realist fiction. It is, arguably, the first great novel of the new South Africa -- a triumph of imaginative and historical writing.… (more)

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