Ways of Dying

Ways of Dying follows Toloki, a professional mourner in an unnamed city in post-apartheid South Africa.  The narration shifts between his childhood in a rural village and his downtrodden days as an adult in the harsh, violence-plagued city.  One day, while attending the funeral of a young boy, Toloki sees Noria, a woman he grew up with.  Together, they attempt to make sense of the chaos around them.

"The streets are empty, as all the stores are closed.  He struts like a king, for today the whole city belongs to him.  He owns the wide tarmac roads, the skyscrapers, the traffic lights, and the flowers on the sidewalks.  That is what he loves most about this city.  It is a garden city, with flowers and well-tended shrubs and bushes growing at every conceivable place.  In all seasons, blossoms fill the air."

Zakes Mda is a novelist, poet, and playwright.  His works include Ways of Dying, Cion, The Whale Caller, and The Heart of Redness.  He currently teaches creative writing at Ohio University.

Published:  2002
Length:  224 pages
Set in:  South Africa