‘I want readers to enjoy the book. What message they get is up to them’ – Watch an interview with Zakes Mda on his new book The Zulus of New York
More about the book!
Zakes Mda chatted to Polity SA about his new novel The Zulus of New York.
The Zulus of New York is a work of historical fiction that draws on the true history of ‘Farini’s Friendly Zulus’, a group of men taken to Britain and America as performing curiosities.
Mda discusses the real-life inspiration for the book, the difference between historical fiction and fictionalised history, and writing from a female perspective.
He also spoke about his simple hope for the book, and how he has no desire to influence his readers.
‘I want readers to enjoy the book,’ Mda says. ‘What message they get is up to them. As a writer I never determine that I’m writing this so you must get this message or that message.
‘I’m writing this to tell a story, and a good story, and it’s a story about dignity. How these characters struggled to maintain dignity despite deep, deep, deep dehumanisation. What you get out of that, is up to you.
‘The reader decides what message they get from any story. And one person’s message will be different from another’s. We all get different messages. Sometimes they may coincide, other times they will be different.
‘In our own reading of any story we bring our own biography into that. And it is our own biography that determines what message we want to get from a story.’
Watch the video: