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Niq Mhlongo: The uncensored and contemporary voice in African Literature

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Soft music playing in the background of an intimate restaurant in Durban, sub-urban of Glenwood.  NCNN.LIVE caught up with the cheerful, esteemed writer and journalist in the person of Niq Mhlongo

“My proudest moments in my career as a writer would be when I go to Writer’s Festivals or other platforms where I would get the opportunity to present my work amongst other writers whom I grew up reading their books. The feeling truly is overwhelming and makes me feel honoured,” said the artful writer

Niq Mhlongo was born in Midway, Chiawelo, Soweto.  He attained his degree in African Literature and Political Studies at the University of Witswatersrand in 1996.

“The following year I enrolled for a degree in Law, but dropped out in my final year and soon realised that I actually wanted to write.”

Dog Eat Dog is the author’s first book, published by Kwela in 2004, the book provides a glimpse into the life of a young African male student during the  post-apartheid transition. The book captures the challenges and financial difficulties that the young man had to withstand.

The book made a splash in in the wake of the #FeesMustFallMovement in 2005.  It made an even bigger splash as South Africans soon realised the this book had featured aspects about the controversial matter long before the student led protests took place.

The book was translated into Spanish in 2006 under the new title of Perro Come Perro by El Cobre. The Spanish version won the Spanish award called Mar Der Letras Intenecionale. It was translated into Italian in 2008. The book was also later published in the United States of America by Ohio University Press, it is prescribed at the University of New York, University of Massachusetts and Vanderbilt and several others.

‘I grew up reading the African Writer’s Series which gave a voice to post-independence African writers such as, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Steve Biko and many others, these are the writers that inspired me to write and tell my stories,” recalled Mhlongo

He is also the author of a novel After Tears that made its debut in 2007.

“The book covers an important issue which is not spoken about much, the burden of black tax, the financial obligations placed on young black professionals,” he said worriedly.

His second novel, Way Back Home, came out in 2013 and followed by a collection of short stories titled; Affluenza, in 2016 and all published by Kwela.

Mhlongo’s latest book; Soweto, Under The Apricot Tree, was released in 2018 as a collection of short stories which captures the vibrancy of the township with stories about race, death, funerals and ancestry, trends of people going to funerals to catch up with mates, show off their new outfits and cars and to catch up on the latest gossip.

This eventful realist, hosts writing workshops across the globe in countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and many others. In 2008 he was a fellow writer at the University of IOWA for the International Writers Programme. Mhlongo is currently hosted at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal as a fellow writer.

“I am working on two books currently, one is an anthology in collaboration with other authors. It is a series of essays of several South African writers, which expresses the burdening and unburdening of black tax. The other is a novel which will be released in 2020.”

The writer curated the 22nd edition of the ‘Time of the Writer’s Festival’ in partnership with the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in March 2019, under the theme ‘changing the narrative.

“The festival is the largest in South Africa at the moment and allows people with love for literature, spectators, and authors to interact on a more personal level,” emphasised Mhlongo

He added that he is also a City Editor for Johannesburg Review of Books, which is an online Magazine that provides an important platform for writers to tell their stories by having their books reviewed, thus promoting a culture of reading.

“I have truly found my passion in writing,” said the acclaimed writer and journalist.

By Faith Chabalala

 

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About Faith Chabalala

Born: 1989/01/02

Place of Birth: Northern Cape, Kimberley

Education: St Boniface High School (2006), Central University of Technology (2008- 2011) and UNISA (2018)

Faith Chabalala works for the Department of Education in the Northern Cape as a training Officer. She is also a freelance journalist with a passion for telling stories about people, events, trends, lifestyle, book reviews and issues of social justice.
She has a Degree in Political Science from the Central University of Technology and is currently busy with her Honors Degree in this same field.
She is the founder of the Literary House Book Club, which aims to encourage reading and learning in her community. She is also the founder of an HR & Marketing Agency, which seeks to breach the gap of unemployment, scarce skills, and career management.

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Born: 1989/01/02

Place of Birth: Northern Cape, Kimberley

Education: St Boniface High School (2006), Central University of Technology (2008- 2011) and UNISA (2018)

Faith Chabalala works for the Department of Education in the Northern Cape as a training Officer. She is also a freelance journalist with a passion for telling stories about people, events, trends, lifestyle, book reviews and issues of social justice.
She has a Degree in Political Science from the Central University of Technology and is currently busy with her Honors Degree in this same field.
She is the founder of the Literary House Book Club, which aims to encourage reading and learning in her community. She is also the founder of an HR & Marketing Agency, which seeks to breach the gap of unemployment, scarce skills, and career management.