REVIEW | The Wanderers by Mphuthumi Ntabeni will generate much thinking and discussion

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A young man is stopped for his pass as a plainclothes policeman looks on. (Photography from House of Bondage, 1958-66, Ernest Cole)
A young man is stopped for his pass as a plainclothes policeman looks on. (Photography from House of Bondage, 1958-66, Ernest Cole)

Ruru, a young Xhosa doctor, is at the centre of this rich, poetic and complex novel. It begins with a quote from Virgil’s Aeneid: "I gave way to fate and, bearing my father on my shoulders, made for the mountains." But Ruru, who loses her father before she is born and her mother when she is 17, pursues both her parents in this book. She lives her life in conversation with them, so to speak, her ever-present closest ancestors. 

Ntabeni uses several skilful means to brings us this engaging story, In short chapters, with cryptic headings, he changes the narrator often. Some chapters are in the second person, the author addressing Ruru as "you"; in others Ruru is writing to her mother, Nosipho, a highly trained nurse, a Catholic and reader of St Augustine.  

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