Dingz is an average Wits student – struggling with money, partying with his friends, picking up girls, skipping lectures, making up elaborate excuses for missing exams. A bright, articulate guy, Dingz and his circle of friends sit around drinking and discussing current affairs – Aids, racism, South African politics and history – in between some hair-raising adventures, like being kidnapped by taxi-drivers, contracting gonorrheal or trying to fake a death certificate. A constant backdrop is the subtle and not-so-subtle racism of the university, which threatens to exclude him financially. This is an authentic, witty slice-of-life set at the time of the first democratic elections, full of interesting perceptions and vivid descriptions, and well-drawn and believable characters. Dingz is an interesting and plausible chap – intelligent and likeable, but no saint. His anger at racism is sometimes over-the-top but certainly not hard to understand, and his cynicism in using the race card is amusing. Sometimes he’s unpleasant, sometimes silly – Tippex-ing out an old name on a birthday card to give to his new girlfriend – but frequently charming. A complex, multi-faceted personality, with plausible flaws and strengths.
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NIQ MHLONGO was born in 1973 in Soweto. He has a BA from the University of the Witwatersrand, with majors in African Literature and Political Studies. His first novel, Dog Eat Dog, was published by Kwela in 2004 and was translated into Spanish under the title Perro Come Perro in 2006. This Spanish edition was awarded the Mar des Lettras prize. Besides writing novels and short stories, Niq has written a screenplay for the animated children’s TV series Magic Cellar and scripts for a comic magazine called Mshana, the first issue of which appeared in February 2007.Review:
A very significant contribution, not just to South African literature but world literature in general.”
Full of interesting perceptions and vivid descriptions, and well-drawn and believable characters.”
New Times (Rwanda)
Mhlongo uses his witty, gritty and vibrant style to address issues such as AIDS, xenophobia, poverty and the challenges young people continue to face in the new South Africa.”
Ido Lekota, Sowetan
Moments of real emotional power intermingled with darkly humorous escapades a potential trendsetter.”
Laura Scott, African Review of Books
Mhlongo describes a searing world that is an abject pit of red earth,’ an underworld of illegal activity and corruption, but one also suffused with music, from crowd-pleasing choruses in Sesotho to the soulful lyrics of Peter Gabriel, and ultimately, hope. Mhlongo’s freshly told novel is the story of a young man determined to never give up trying.”
Here is a full-throated romp through Soweto and Johannesburg today, with kwaito music blaring, a mélange of African languages floating through the air, and a toxic mix of promise and disappointment infecting everything.”
Words without Borders
Niq Mhlongo is one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s postapartheid literary scene.”
Rachel Donadio, New York Times
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