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Fabulous reads: Poignant novel brims with adventure and emotion

Book review - The Lost Language of the Soul by Mandla Langa.

The Lost Language of the Soul, Mandla Langa, Pan Macmillan, ISBN: 9781770107663

LANGA captures the perspective of a vulnerable yet determined child and the clashing emotions within him as he seeks to reunite his family.

Joseph Mabaso is used to his father’s, Sobhuza, long absences from the family home in Lusaka. Sobhuza is a freedom fighter and doing important work, and Joseph has learned not to ask questions. But when Chanda, his mother, disappears without a trace, leaving him and his siblings alone, Joseph knows that something is terribly wrong.

So begins a journey that is physically arduous, dangerous and emotionally fraught. A journey that no 14-year-old boy should have to undertake alone.

As Joseph navigates unfamiliar and often hostile territory in his search for his parents, he is on a parallel journey of discovery – one of identity and belonging – as he attempts to find a safe house that is truly safe, a language that understands all languages, and a place in his soul that feels like home.

The author was born in Durban, grew up in KwaMashu, and holds an MA in creative writing from the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1991 he was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain Bursary for creative writing, the first for a South African. Langa’s published works include the award-winning The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2008) and The Texture of Shadows (2014).

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