Shadows is a story of a young artist, Mpho and his love for his mother, whose prostitution he despises and Nomsa, a daughter to his mother's prostitute friend whom he loves because they are both damaged. The story, told in the first person exposes Mpho's passions, frustrations and triumphs. His seemingly unlimited freedom to express and fight his pain ends when he is arrested at an exhibition meant to celebrate his mother, taken for a political act.
Novuyo's sharp pen in Shadows pierces the repressive society in which Mpho lives and the hypocrisy of human rights activists, who visit him in prison. Novuyo writes in the same uncensored way that Mpho treats his mother. There is a nakedness that brings an unsentimental and original touch to the tale. To combine Damage and Love, and write a gripping story as Novuyo does is an act of genius. Shadows strips naked the stereotypes about prostitution and forces us to re-think the place and power of art in society.
Now, it is always a painful process to come up with a cool less than 200 words when writing of literary beauty, so will not add more to what I have already said in the Amazon review. But I think you, who is reading this review would appreciate if I got you a paragraph or two from the book, not so? And so, I have randomly picked this;
My days spent with Rasta had given me a sense of worth. Now he was dead, and I was dangling once again by my shallow roots of existence. I became angry; angry at this country, angry at my existence. I spilled my poison onto the page. The smell of my own fear began to overpower me. It clung to me and refused to let go. I began to fear that other people could smell it around me. The only one who never seemed to notice was Nomsa.
‘You are the only woman who can love me.’
We were drawing circles in the road dust with our toes, watching a sun set over the township houses. The township houses squatted unevenly on the horizon like the clumsy paintings out of a grade one book. There was a beauty to the disorder.
‘Why do you say that?’
'Because we are both… damaged.’
‘Is that the best you can do for romance? That you love me because I am damaged? How about that you find me beautiful or smart or anything? Even that you find my breasts enticing. Anything. Damaged?’
She was my best thing, after Rasta, after Mama. Rasta was dead. He became my conscience. And well, I told myself that I loved Mama only because she was my Mama and the only Mama I would ever have, what could I do about that? I had long ago learned to play down expectation, and relish compromise. Nomsa became that compromise.
Okay, so much for telling you a lie, these paragraphs were not picked randomly. I, like Mpho, have a thing for Nomsa. Okay, let us say I have a thing for Nomsa and Mpho's relationship. Such honesty between them, I have been wondering how possible it is in real life to have such brutally honest relationships. So, this is also my compromise. Like Mpho, I have started to enjoy the beauty of honest, brutally honest, naked truth-filled relationships. So, I have ended up saying too much, go buy the book at Amazon. You will thank me.