After Tears Paperback – Sep 5 2011
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Niq Mhlongo is one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s postapartheid literary scene.”
Rachel Donadio, New York Times
A uniquely South African story, told in a fast, hip, and happening style that is synonymous with Soweto, where the author’s witty, dodgy, plain and simple characters play out their daily drama.”
Lucas Ledwaba, City Press
About the Author
Niq Mhlongo was born in 1973 in Soweto. He is the author of Dog Eat Dog, forthcoming in the Modern African Writing Series in spring 2012. After Tears is his second novel. Mhlongo lives in Soweto, South Africa.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Its too early to pose that question about After Tears.
Instead, focus on what it does speak to, which is partly about the weaknesses of not wanting to disappoint, coupled to the weakness of not wanting to take ownership of failure. It is also a sharp commentary on the shifting attitudes and mores of the emerging Black middle class in South Africa, its desire to transcend the poverty of its roots, and the confusion of its parentage as they watch the strain this puts on their own values and cultural beliefs.
Here After Tears comes into it's own. I wondered, as I read it, "Did the emerging youth of the old Communist Block struggle like this too?" I'm sure they did. Oh, and yes. Life is tough in Africa. It leaves its mark on both men and women. Reading "After Tears" is to realize this, too.
The 'hero' of After Tears is Bafana, also known as 'Advo'. He has just returned from the University of Cape Town ('UCT'), where he has been studying law. He alone knows that he has failed his exams badly. Everyone who knows him in his home town, Soweto near Johannesburg, thinks that he has passed, and has high expectations of him.
Bafana tells his mother that UCT will not release his results until he has paid his fees. His mother decides to sell the house that she and his uncles jointly own in order to raise the required cash. Thus begins a disastrous series of events. One thing leads to another, usually not in the way that anyone expects or hopes.
Throughout this hilarious, but very humane, story the author kept me in suspense. It is not until the very end of the book that we learn whether or not Bafana's true examination results will become common knowledge.
I liked this book because I did not feel as if I was merely an observer of events. I felt as if I was on the ground in the townships with Bafana and his family, friends, and foes. Mhlongo's writing is deceptively simple, but remarkably effective in making me feel as if I were actively involved in Bafana's life after UCT. The author's liberal use of local African language, often quite unfamiliar to me, did not impede my enjoyment; it enhanced it. A short glossary is included at the end of the edition that I was reading, but I did not find myself needing to refer to it much. As I have already said, the author succeeded in making me feel as if I were part of the scenery rather than an observer looking at it from afar.
Sirayasi bra, for a real taste of South Africa, beg, borrow, or steal a copy of After Tears, and then enjoy yourself!