Chasing the Tails of My Father’s Cattle, by Sindiwe Magona

The story of Shumikazi, a wry, tragic, funny, scathing, rich new novel from Sindiwe Magona, one of South Africa’s most beloved storytellers.

SKU: 9780994677006 Category:


“He reached down, softly laid a hand on the swaddling and said, ‘Here’s Shumikazi, Miseka.’ In that moment of sacred oneness, he beheld the dead-still lips, bent down to her ear, and whispered, ‘Miseka … here is Shumikazi.’”

This is the story of Shumikazi, the only surviving child of Jojo and Miseka. She grows up in a small village nestling among the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape during the days of white rule – from the outside, an apparently unremarkable life. And yet Shumi is marked for extraordinary things from the moment of her birth. But then she faces an unspeakable betrayal that changes everything. Wry, tragic, funny, scathing, this rich new novel from Sindiwe Magona, one of South Africa’s most beloved storytellers, underscores the dignity of those often rendered invisible. Her characters crackle with life and verve as they step into the centre of the national narrative in Magona’s skilled hands. A powerful meditation on the vulnerability of women, it is also a series of overlapping love stories – above all, the love a father has for his daughter.

“Chasing the Tails of My Father’s Cattle is not like anything else I have seen. A little story about little, invisible people. Such a huge story, about such timeless, recognisable people. It has the feel of a Greek tragedy, complete with clucking chorus, but with more optimism. And what an extraordinary tale of the vast majority of women’s lives in this country. What a powerful, non-preachy meditation on the vulnerability of rural women in traditional cultures.” – Helen Moffett

“Magona’s new novel is not a story in a hurry; it is one to be savoured. There are moments of intense lyricism and playful idiom – and in the end, Shumi will return to chase the tails of her father’s cattle. Her story is both a testament to the inherent capacity for goodness in people and a warning: ‘What you tolerate, you perpetuate.’ The choice is ours.” – Jacqui L’Ange, BooksLIVE

“The power of Magona’s story lies in her depiction of the tiniest details of everyday life in an Eastern Cape village — from the number of nails pounded into a hut’s wall to hang a scant wardrobe, to animal husbandry and the rituals of traditional ceremonies. Every character in the village comes to life under her penetrating gaze, all their foibles and all their fears.” – Rehana Rossouw, Business Day



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