Zakes Mda’s LITTLE SUNS shortlisted for the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize 2017

LITTLE SUNS by Zakes Mda, has been shortlisted for South Africa’s Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize 2017 which seeks to showcase “writing of rare style and imagination, stories that chose the personal over the political, and themes that are fresh and provocative.” The chair of the judges, Rehana Rossouw, describes the books as having ‘words that strike at the reader’s heart.’

‘Zakes Mda is on song with this book,” said one judge, “it brings people from our past gorgeously to life.’

It is 1903. A lame and frail Malangana – 'Little Suns' – searches for his beloved Mthwakazi after many lonely years spent in exile. Mthwakazi was the young woman he had fallen in love with twenty years earlier, before the assassination of Magistrate Hamilton Hope began a war that ripped the two of them apart.

Intertwined with Malangana's story is the account of Hope – a colonial magistrate who, in the late nineteenth century, was undermining the local kingdoms of the Eastern Cape in order to bring them under the control of the British. It was he who wanted to coerce Malangana’s king and his people, the amaMpondomise, into joining his battle – a scheme Malangana’s conscience could not allow. Based on real historical events – after these frontier wars were quelled, Zakes Mda’s own ancestors were exiled to Lesotho – 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.

Umuzi published in Southern Africa, and Jacaranda Books will publish on their Global Classics list in 2018.


The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize is awarded as part of the Sunday Times Literary Awards and along with its twin prize, the Alan Paton Award for Non-Fiction, is one of South Africa’s most prestigious prizes. The winner goes home with R100,000. The full shortlist can be found here.

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.


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


Follow Zakes Mda on Twitter @ZakesMda

Zakes Mda's LITTLE SUNS TO SHINE ON JACARANDA'S GLOBAL CLASSICS LIST

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.

Author Zakes Mda. Photograph by Sal Idriss

Author Zakes Mda. Photograph by Sal Idriss

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