Academic’s Novel Shortlisted for 2016 Sunday Times Fiction Award
School of Arts academic Dr Nkosinathi Sithole’s debut novel Hunger Eats a Man has been shortlisted for the 2016 Barry Ronge Sunday Times fiction award.
Both humbled and happy, Sithole said: ‘I think back to the time when I was writing the book and I am reminded of the way I enjoyed writing and reading it, even though it deals with sad and painful realities of our new South Africa and the fact that I was in a bad place myself when I wrote it.’
His book, available in isiZulu and English, is set in the village of Ndlalidlindoda (isiZulu for: hunger eats a man) in KwaZulu-Natal and highlights the ongoing plight of many rural South Africans and the power of a community working together to bring about change.
Said Sithole: ‘The idea for my book came from my early life growing up in a community where most people were poor so when apartheid ended they thought their lives were going to change for the better. It did not happen for many people!’
‘For some, things got worse than they had been during apartheid which is not a good thing. My book aims to alert those in power about the danger we face in South Africa if the gap between rich and the poor is not bridged.’
The book is about a priest Father Gumede who after losing his job as a farmhand, realises he can’t afford to love his neighbour as he does himself. Despondent and enraged, Father Gumede cuts off all ties with the church and politics, determined to make a living – at whatever cost.
It takes a strange story written by his son Sandile to show Father Gumede the hope and humanity inherent in the human spirit.
Dean and Head of the School of Arts (acting) Professor Donal McCracken said: ‘They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in this novel fiction is truth, and that truth is at the core of our society’s greatest challenge. A first novel is something very special and Nkosinathi Sithole has set the bar high. I envisage further great things from this young author.’
Sithole urged everyone to read his book as he believes it is relevant to the situation in South Africa. ‘It is written in a humorous tone so that it does not become so bleak as it deals with disturbing facts about our lives,’ he said.
The book is available at all major bookstores and online stores.