ISBN 9780994710406
Pages 194
Dimensions 203 x 133mm
Published 2018
Publisher Deep South, South Africa
Format Paperback

Bird-Monk Seding

by Lesego Rampolokeng

Lesego Rampolokeng's third novel Bird-Monk Seding was awarded the 2017 University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing in English. It was also shortlisted for the prestigious Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize in 2018.

This place is called SEDING, short for Leseding, place of light. Quite ironic given the darkness throbbing at its core and spilling out bubbling in the blackest rage when least expected. Surrounded by farmland in all directions, it is a settlement of about 700 households crammed in tiny structures. Average 7 souls per hovel. It used to be made up of ramshackle corrugated iron shacks that seemed tossed down regardless of aesthetics. Then the new administration’s housing programme kicked in.

Man in the bush in quest of Bosman’s ghost. Finding AWB rabidity. Tranquility so deep it kills. Hate hounds. Beneath the surface quiet, such racist rotten-heartedness. & children dying. Starvation abounds. Raw sewage in the water supply. Crap in the taps. Skin matters. Ancient white beards sexing black teens for tins, food exchange. The soul’s impoverishment. The starved get their humanity halved. And weekends of sex-tourism. Alcoholic stares everywhere. Deep fear too.

Bird-Monk Seding is a stark picture of life in a rural township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Listening and observing in the streets and taverns, Bavino Sekete, often feeling desperate himself, is thrown back to his own violent childhood in Soweto. To get through, he turns to his pantheon of jazz innovators and radical writers.

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Reviews

Rampolokeng’s third novel is a stark portrait of a Groot Marico township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Innovative and violently sensory, one judge noted that he “brandishes his scatting be-bop voice like a fearsome weapon” as he renders the resilience of people marked by apartheid.

Sunday Times Barry Ronge Prize Citation

Bird-Monk Seding is a book that rewrites the rules of South African fiction. Although the author describes this innovative and refreshing literary venture as a novel, it is actually a multi-layered work that intricately weaves together various literary genres and conventions the likes of which South African literature has never seen.

The setting is the Soweto of the 1970s/1980s and Leseding, a small rural township in Madikwe, as the Tswana natives of Groot Marico refers to the North West district. If this was a movie, it would have been screened in flashbacks showing glimpses of a Soweto boyhood defined by epic soccer clashes at Orlando Stadium, the grim exploits of the Lovers Lane serial killer and the historic 1976 student uprisings – among others.

[The book is also a] constant celebration of jazz [and a] salute of literary heroes who have shaped the author’s literary identity as a distinct voice in South African writing. It is not just a story of a community. It is a hard-hitting commentary on the state of the nation.

Sam Mathe, Cape Argus
About the Author

Lesego Rampolokeng

Born in Orlando West, Soweto, in Johannesburg, Lesego Rampolokeng is a poet, novelist, playwright, filmmaker and writing teacher who rose to prominence in the 1980s, a turbulent period in South Africa’s history. He is the author of several pioneering collections of poetry including Talking Rain (1993), The Bavino Sermons (1999), Head on Fire (2012) and A Half Century Thing (2015). He is also the author of three novels, two plays, screenplays and has collaborated in performances and recording with several musicians.