Dance of Life: The Novels of Zakes Mda in Post-apartheid South Africa

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In recent years, the work of Zakes Mda-novelist, painter, composer, theater director and filmmaker-has attracted worldwide critical attention. Gail Fincham's book examines the five novels Mda has written since South Africa's transition to democracy: Ways of Dying (1995), The Heart of Redness (2000), The Madonna of Excelsior (2002), The Whale Caller (2005), and Cion (2007). Dance of Life explores how refigured identity is rooted in Mda's strongly painterly imagination that creates changed spaces in memory and culture. Through a combination of magic realism, African orature, and intertextuality with the Western canon, Mda rejects dualistic thinking of the past and the present, the human and the nonhuman, the living and the dead, the rural and the urban. He imbues his fictional characters with the power to orchestrate a reconfigured subjectivity that is simultaneously political, social, and aesthetic.