This is the second of Niq Mhlongo's novels that I have read, and the second which he has written. Both novels are wonderful.
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!