QnA with Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

Conversations Featured Local

The 2019 winners of the annual Sunday Times Literary Awards – considered to be the most prestigious literary accolades in the country – have just been announced.


The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize was awarded to Siphiwe Ndlovu for her debut novel, The Theory of Flight (Penguin Fiction), while Terry Kurgan received the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction for her book, Everyone is Present: Essays on Photography, Family and Memory (Fourthwall Books). The pair each receive a massive R100k prize.

The Cheeky Natives spoke to Siphiwe about the Award.

Congratulations on winning the Barry Ronge award? How does it feel to win this prestigious award for your debut novel?

Thank you. It has truly been a humbling and rewarding experience. To win such a prestigious award at any point in your career is a great honour, to do so for your debut novel is great affirmation. It is like you are being welcomed into a community of people you have long admired, which is a very nice feeling indeed.

The prize money is 100k, do you know what you will be doing with it?

Something very responsible, I hope.


For people, who have not read The Theory of Flight, what would you say the book is about and why is it important?


The book is a meditation on love, loss, and memory. It follows the life of the protagonist, Genie, and, through providing her story, the novel also examines the history of an unnamed southern African country. The book is important for the reason that all Art is important because it helps hold up a mirror that allows us to examine ourselves, our lives, our experiences, to ask questions and sometimes find answers, to work our way towards a deeper understanding of why and how we are who and what we are.


The book is a meditation on love, loss, and memory. It follows the life of the protagonist, Genie, and, through providing her story, the novel also examines the history of an unnamed southern African country. The book is important for the reason that all Art is important because it helps hold up a mirror that allows us to examine ourselves, our lives, our experiences, to ask questions and sometimes find answers, to work our way towards a deeper understanding of why and how we are who and what we are.

Are you working on any other works?


Yes. My second novel, The History of Man, will be published by Penguin Random House and should be out in July 2020. I am currently also writing my third novel as part of the Morland Writing Scholarship.

What are your thoughts about the current reiteration of Afro-phobic violence in South Africa?


It is heartbreaking on many levels, not least of these being that it is no longer something unexpected. In a larger context, of course, we are living through a terrifyingly intolerant time. In all corners of the globe there is evidence of immigrants and other created and/or perceived “others” being told that they do not belong, that they are not welcome, that they should go back to where they came from. In the case of South Africa what makes this trend even more heart-rending and lamentable is how completely ahistorical it is. Southern Africa has, for over a century, had a robust system of migrant labour crisscrossing over its Berlin-Conference-created borders. The very South Africa that these “afro-phobic” South Africans are trying to hold on to was built with the help of migrant labour that came from beyond South Africa’s borders. I understand, of course, the need to get rid of the things that are seen as “bad” but when all that is bad is thought to come from somewhere else then not enough introspection has taken place. Real bravery comes from attacking the real source of any problem and not antagonizing weaker, often vulnerable, scapegoats.

Buy the book

loot: https://www.loot.co.za/product/siphiwe-gloria-ndlovu-the-theory-of-flight/xkyv-4915-ga60

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Theory-Flight-Siphiwe-Gloria-Ndlovu-ebook/dp/B07G33DDCD/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=THE+THEORY+OF+FLIGHT&qid=1568879037&s=gateway&sr=8-2

takealot: https://www.takealot.com/the-theory-of-flight/PLID49107354

Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *