A Man Who Is Not a Man

Publication: 2021

Author: Thando Mgqolozana

A Man Who Is Not A Man recounts the personal trauma of a young Xhosa initiate after a rite-of-passage circumcision has gone wrong.

With frankness and courage, author Thando Mgqolozana’s powerful novel details the pain and lifelong shame that is experienced as a result of not just the physical trauma, but the social ostracism of being labeled ‘a failed man.’

He decodes the values and mysteries of this deep-seated cultural tradition and calls to account the elders for the disintegrating support systems that allow such tragic outcomes to happen. But it is also through this life-changing experience that his protagonist is forced to find his strength and humanity, and reassess what it really means to be a man.

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Original Language

ENGLISH (South Africa) | Abantu Publishing
ENGLISH (World exc. SA) | Cassava Republic Press


«Raw and powerful tale of circumcision in rural South Africa» Financial Times

« A coming-of-age tour de force. Powerful stuff from an exceptional writer.» Joanne Owen, LoveReading

«Highly original.» Nadine Gordimer

«His straightforward no-frills prose tells an effective story of a botched circumcision and its consequences.» Zakes Mda, Sunday Independent

«A brave book, triumphant and a testament to the indefatigable will to live.» Percy Zvomuya, Mail & Guardian

«Talk about lifting the veil.» Maureen Isaacson, Sunday Independent