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Niq Mhlongo: “Our Government Has to Start Taking Literature Seriously”

Way Back HomeIn an interview with Africa Book Club about his new novel, Way Back Home, Niq Mhlongo discussed the number of new black writers that have recently emerged, saying “this is a great achievement, and this is great for the nation”.

However, Mhlongo is still waiting for the government to “start taking literature seriously, especially South African literature”. He believes they should be looking after this important heritage and encourage people to write.

Mhlongo also spoke about the underlying themes of “nepotism, corruption, politics, lies and crime” in Way Back Home.

Your style is sometimes described as “raucous” or “darkly humorous”, yet your novels tackle heavy themes. Is it easier to approach such themes through humour?

Humour is not something that I employ consciously in my writing. But I’m happy that my readers find my books funny even when I engage in heavy themes. I guess it helps them to reflect positively on these issues. I’ve been told that my strength in writing comes from the dialogue, and my characters. I try hard to make my characters lively and believable through dialogue.

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