Exclusive: Nakhane Touré on his debut novel

2015-03-29 11:00

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His debut album, Brave Confusion, picked up an SA Music Award and established him as a significant new singer-songwriter.

Now Nakhane Touré is hoping his debut novel will have as much impact. This week the 27-year-old signed with Jacana Media, which will be publishing To Whom Shall We Go?

It’s not a celeb exposé or quick-buck self-help book, but a bona fide literary offering.

When #Trending met with Touré this week, the interview about his book started an hour late because of a lengthy and animated chat about the state of black South African fiction.

Touré studied literature at Wits before dropping out and is a passionate reader, speaking of his admiration for Thando Mgqolozana, Zakes Mda and Sello Duiker.

To Whom Shall We Go? starts as a dense and poetic account of life for a young Xhosa man in the Eastern Cape town of Alice, before shifting to the urban township of New Brighton in Port Elizabeth – and then into ancient times.

Touré began writing it six years ago in a project that began as a form of therapy but soon had him “digging for skeletons in the family closet”.

At the centre of the work is the rape of the protagonist, Davide. Touré was inspired by the Gothic writers of the American South. “The rape opens up a stream of things that draw on Davide’s family history.”

His work, says the openly gay singer, seeks to explore the epic reach of his Xhosa culture and offer a more nuanced reflection on masculinity.

The novel will be in stores in September, soon after the release of his second album. In June, DJ Black Coffee will be releasing a track made in collaboration with Touré.

“Finally, I might have a hit,” laughed the singer, known for his intense and lyrical songs.

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