Zakes Mda’s new novel The Zulus of New York to be published by Umuzi in March 2019

Zakes Mda’s new novel, a work of historical fiction titled The Zulus of New York, will be published by Umuzi in March 2019.

Drawing on the true history of ‘Farini’s Friendly Zulus’, a group of men who were taken to Britain and then to America as performing curiosities, the novel opens in 1885 in wintry New York City.

The protagonist, Mpiyezintombi, simply called Em-Pee by the English-speakers, loses more than his name in this far-off foreign country; he is seen as little more than a freak-show act – though he is not kept in a cage like the beautiful Dinka Princess, with her gold-painted papier-mâché crown and fur cape. For EmPee, it is love at first sight, but the caged woman is not free to love anyone back: she is the property of Monsieur Duval, proprietor of Duval Ethnological Expositions. And so begins one of Zakes Mda’s most striking stories, one that depicts terrible historical injustices and indignities, while at the same time celebrating the vigour and ingenuity of the creative spirit, and the transformative power of love.

In an already-great pantheon of Mda love stories and classic gems, this may be his most powerful work yet.

Fourie Botha, publisher of local fiction for Penguin Random House, says: ‘A new novel by Zakes Mda is always a glorious event. We are honoured that Prof. Mda will publish this wonderful and important book with Umuzi.’

A recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga, Zakes Mda was born in the Eastern Cape in 1948. He is the author of the famous novels Ways of Dying and The Heart of Redness, among many others, and his work has been translated into 20 languages. He spent his early childhood in Soweto, and finished his school education in Lesotho, where he joined his father in exile. Mda has studied and worked in South Africa, Lesotho, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and is a prolific writer, not only of novels, but also of plays, poems, and articles for academic journals and newspapers. His creative work includes paintings, and theatre and film productions. He is based in Athens, Ohio, in the United States, where he spends his time writing and teaching. His memoir, Sometimes There Is a Void, was published in 2011 and his most recent novel, Little Suns, won the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

The publishing deal was brokered by Mda’s agent Isobel Dixon of the Blake Friedmann Literary, TV and Film Agency.

  • For more information, visit Penguin Random House SA
  • For rights enquiries contact Isobel Dixon, Blake Friedmann Literary TV and Film Agency, Isobel@blakefriedmann.co.uk

Categories Fiction South Africa

Tags Historical fiction New books New releases Penguin Random House SA The Zulus of New York Umuzi Zakes Mda

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