Valerie Brandes and Laure Deprez of Jacaranda Books have acquired LITTLE SUNS, the latest novel by acclaimed South African writer Zakes Mda. A deal for UK and British Commonwealth rights, excluding Southern Africa, was struck with Mda’s agent, Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann. Originally published in South Africa by Random House’s Umuzi imprint, Jacaranda will publish LITTLE SUNS in their Global Classics list in 2018.
The novel opens in 1903 as rickety old wanderer Malangana – ‘Little Suns' – searches for his lost love Mthwakazi, a feisty healer who once tended his clan’s queen. As the trail of his romantic quest goes hot and cold, Malangana recalls how his king refused to be coerced into joining forces with the British and how his people’s uprising and the murder of Magistrate Hamilton Hope sparked vicious retribution from the colonisers. The Wars of Hope parted him from his beloved – after the decades of humiliation and exile, can he find her now?
LITTLE SUNS is based on real historical events – after these frontier wars were quelled, Zakes Mda’s own ancestors were exiled to Lesotho. In this vivid new novel Mda has drawn on published accounts and the oral stories of family members and local praise poets, woven together with his uniquely vigorous prose, historical insight and humour.
Laure Deprez said of the acquisition, ‘We are deeply honoured to be publishing this acclaimed author from South Africa. We feel confident that Zakes Mda will find significant success in the UK market.’
Zakes Mda said, ‘I'm greatly honored to be published by Jacaranda, joining a number of African writers whose work I respect immensely, and opening my work to a much broader readership.’
Agent Isobel Dixon praised Jacaranda’s ‘spirited dedication to diverse voices’ and said ‘it’s wonderful that Zakes has found a home there. His many fans have been clamouring for greater access to his work in the UK and I rejoice in the thought that LITTLE SUNS will find many more readers here now.’
Praise for Zakes Mda:
‘The great South African novelist of his generation, a writer rich in both imagination and ironic political attitude.’ The Philadelphia Inquirer
‘A voice for which one should feel not only affection but admiration’ – New York Times
‘It’s a different kind of South African literature, a South African magical realism …I can’t wait to read more’. Barbara Kingsolver on WAYS OF DYING
‘In novel after novel, Zakes Mda seems to have cultivated a mode of writing in which the realistic and the magical co-exist with unruffled ease.’ – Harry Garuba, Independent
'Zakes Mda is among the most acclaimed exponents of a new artistic freedom. His fiction has a beguiling lyricism and humour.' – Maya Jaggi, The Guardian
Zakes Mda is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent writers, and many of his era-defining plays and novels are hailed as classics of the literary canon. He divides his time between South Africa and the U.S., working as a professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University, director of the Southern African Multimedia AIDS Trust in Sophiatown, and dramaturge at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. He is a patron of the Etisalat Prize.
Follow Zakes Mda on Twitter @ZakesMda