Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

PDF Ebook Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

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Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

PDF Ebook Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

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Ways of Dying: A Novel, by Zakes Mda

Winner of the M-Net Book Prize
Shortlisted for the CNA and Noma Awards

In Ways of Dying, Zakes Mda’s acclaimed first novel, Toloki is a “professional mourner” in a vast and violent city of the new South Africa. Day after day he attends funerals in the townships, dressed with dignity in a threadbare suit, cape, and battered top hat, to comfort the grieving families of the victims of the city’s crime, racial hatred, and crippling poverty. At a Christmas day funeral for a young boy Toloki is reunited with Noria, a woman from his village. Together they help each other to heal the past, and as their story interweaves with those of their acquaintances this elegant short novel provides a magical and painful picture of South Africa today.

Ways of Dying was awarded South Africa’s prestigious M-Net Book Prize, awarded by the TV channel M-Net to books written in one of South Africa’s official languages, and was shortlisted for the Central News Agency (CNA) Award and the Noma Award, an Africa-wide prize founded by Shoichi Noma, onetime president of Kodansha International.

  • Sales Rank: #597060 in eBooks
  • Published on: 2007-05-15
  • Released on: 2007-05-15
  • Format: Kindle eBook

From Publishers Weekly
Novelist and playwright Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying was a big hit in his native South Africa, where it was even adapted into a jazz opera. Toloki is a Professional Mourner, making a meager living by attending funerals in the violent city where he lives. In his ratty suit he adds “an aura of sorrow and dignity,” often serving as peacemaker when fights break out. He encounters Noria, a childhood acquaintance whose son has just died, and the two renew their friendship, finding comfort in reminiscing over the harrowing events of their lives. There are shades of the absurd in Mda’s darkly humorous descriptions of the crime, poverty, violence and ethnic unrest that plague the characters in this oddly affecting novel.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Writing from the heart of the new South Africa, Mda tells his country’s stories through beautifully realized characters whose search for love and connection takes you up close to the black experience, past and present.Ways of Dying is set in the transitional years before the first democratic elections. Toloki has invented his job as professional mourner in a shantytown, and he finds plenty of work. The violence is horrific–by soldiers and police as well as migrant tribal groups and locals–but even after the worst massacre, where children are “necklaced” with burning tires, Toloki finds love, tenderness, and laughter with a woman from his childhood home and they build a shack together in the urban wasteland. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

“[A] marvelous picaresque . . . Mda’s purpose comes through clearly: to show how many ways of dying there are in the transition to a new South Africa, whether through the brutality of white overseers and policemen or that of black gangsters . . . Reflecting the startling contrasts in such a world, tender humor and brutal violence vie with each other in Mda’s pages, as do vibrant life and sudden death. The struggle between them creates an energetic and refreshing literature for a country still coming to terms with both the new and the old.”—Tony Eprile, The New York Times Book Review

“Mda possesses the lyricism of a storyteller . . . He draws his readers into an Africa where racial hatred and its accompanying violence are commonplace. As a result, the act of mourning is almost a constant state.”—Seth Taylor, San Diego State University, The San Diego Union-Tribune

“In two quiet, subtle and powerful novels [Ways of Dying and Heart of Redness], we are taken from the brutal, nearly unbearable horror of life during the revolution against white minority rule to the daily, nearly unbearable hopelessness of life under the cronyism, corruption and injustice of the post-apartheid government. That this universe is not just depressing but also enlightening is due to the enormous talent behind Mda’s vision.”—Neil Gordon, The Washington Post Book World

“A rollicking, at times whimsical tour through the dying days of apartheid as witnessed by the Professional Mourner Toloki, who wanders from township funeral to township funeral with the hapless wonder of a Chaplinesque loner.”—Anderson Tepper, The Village Voice

“Ultimately, this emotionally rich novel dares to seek redemption amid desolation. In these devastated lives, Mda finds grace, tenderness, even the kind of world-weary humor that is born of hardship.”—Rene E. Graham, The Boston Globe

Most helpful customer reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful.
A wonderful terrible book
By John Anderson
WAYS OF DYING is one of the most fascinating novels that I have read in years. The book is set in South Africa during a period that seems to span the end of the apartheid regime and focuses exclusively on the lives (and deaths) of poor South African Blacks in rural villages and urban shanty towns near what I suspect is Durban. Fans of Marquez will feel very much at home here in a world of “magical realism”, yet while Mda may have been influenced by novels like 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE he has a voice that is uniquely his own, and one that I sense is profoundly rooted in Africa. Mda’s “hero” is a self-declared Professional Mourner, who ekes out an existence at the edge of society. Some aspects of his life are almost grotesque in form, and the deaths that surround him are often truly horrifying, yet somehow I found this a profoundly optimistic and human book. In spite of the worst that the world can throw at him the Professional Mourner is able to transcend mere existence & by the end I was shamelessly rooting for him. I should add that I used this book in a course on the Turn of the Century, and one of my toughest-case students, whom I had failed to excite with anything else, came into my office today saying “I just LOVE Mda” You will too,

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful.
At last a new African writer! And he’s good! Yay!
By artemis
I am an avid reader of African literature, both fiction and non-fiction (especially memoirs). I am always searching for contemporary non-white writers (the white writers are good, but it is not unreasonable to want other perspectives), so I was happy to learn about Zakes Mda from a recent New York Times book review column, and I ordered his two books immediately.
‘Ways of Dying’ is not about post-apartheid South Africa, though the blurb suggests that. I estimate it to be set in the late 1980s, shortly before the end of the old regime was drawing near.
It’s a short book, but it’s well written, and paints a vivid picture of life in South Africa. And yes, the ‘black perspective’ is different, and very interesting, and most welcome.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
one of south africas black celebrated authors
By Kinalma Bashman
Recently i had the pleasure of reading material from one of South Africa’s most celebrated black authors, Zakes Mda. An Oxford University Press published book titled “Ways of Dying”, this is a South African fiction selection. Being a fiction, it is wtitten in a very creative manner that i could hardly associate with any of the books i had read before.

This is a story of love written with expectation of one’s imagination to take over. The wording, grouping, style and context of this book make it so. It is mainly based on two characters and the way they live their lives. Toloki is a man consumed with the profession of mourning the dead whilst his love Noria has lost immensely through life, still has the ability to show Toloki how to live.

There are various different characters in this novel, which make it as interesting. Even with their differences, they jell well together making the story line easily readable and understandably creative enough to follow. The vast lines go from Toloki who grew up as the ugliest boy in the village and people taking no note of him to the same character turning into a man who is widely respected for his chosen profession in the city outskirts where it was the only place he found recognition. In the village where he grew up Toloki had a friend who had the identity he wanted. Her name was Noria. Toloki hated and loved her with the same heart. Noria was everyone’s favorite in the villafe; she had her mother’s beauty and brought all the boys and towns’ man attention and had the most amazing laugh that made all the village people happy whenever they heard it. When she was sad, everyone was too.

The writing style used in this book is that which is very easy to follow. There are no bombastic (big) words used nor are there times where you could lose the story. Every word flows into a paragraph that combines to others that make this a brilliantly written story.

One of the other things that make this an interesting read is the humor infused.

This is a brilliant written book that everyone with a sense of adventure and imagination will enjoy.

See all 17 customer reviews…

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