Rusty Bell, or Small Things?

I’m excited to get messages that you’re busy reading one or both of the August books by author Nthikeng Mohlele. Rusty Bell is his newest release, while Small Things is still receiving acclaim since its release in 2013. Please finish reading one or both of these by next Wednesday. They are not long reads, so you could probably knock out both over the weekend if you’re free.

Behind this story of love, music and the eternal quest, lies an artistic sensibility as generous as it is complex. The prose is rich in texture, the final effect melancholy and comic in equal proportions. – J.M. Coetzee, in praise for Small Things

Update: I believe Rusty Bell has sold out of its new stock on Amazon now (thanks, readers!!!) and it looks like some naughty used-book sellers have jacked up their prices on the second-hand copies. But I have heard from at least one reader that it is available in their library.

Small Things is still showing up at reasonable prices, and does have a Kindle edition. Please do try to get your hands on one or both of these books.

About this New, Author-Interactive Book Club:

If you’re just learning about this online book club, here’s the story…

While I’m living here, in South Africa, and traveling to various countries on this continent, I’m reading African literature voraciously. I’ve been asked to recommend books that would be new and different to American readers, books unlike much of what we’re reading these days in American and European literature. In response, I selected a book per month for twelve months, to introduce you to some fresh voices, with stories that will leave you talking, and maybe some questions that you can have answered!

What makes this book club unique is that each author has agreed to answer questions from you. Just send me an email, with your questions or comments by the deadline, and I will compile them into one document from which the author can take time to read and reply. I’ll then post the questions and answers together for everyone to read, and announce the winner of a signed book by that author!

For an example, please see July’s Q&A with our first author, Futhi Ntshingila, by clicking here. And remember, you’re welcome to become a featured reader, either as yourself or as your book club. Featured Readers for information on becoming a featured reader.

Read full details on the Book Club here!

What We’re Reading Now…

Rusty Bell NthikengRusty Bell Description:

Michael is a respected and haunted South African corporate lawyer – the narrator of this sweeping, intimate and intricate exploration of the plurality and mystery of things: love, grief, fate, lust – but most of all life.

Small Things Description:

Small Things NthikengThis is the story of a dreamer, an average man, singled out by fate for an uncertain life. Jailed for 18 years under apartheid for unspecified sins, he emerges into a world that has no place for him. His fluctuating fortunes land him on the unpredictable, bitter-winter streets of Johannesburg, where ‘harmlessness’ is an ‘unfortunate trait’ but tempestuous skylines offer space to breathe.

A trumpet and an indigent dog are his accomplices in survival. But it is his obsessive love for the erratic, hardhearted Desiree that remains the one constant in his life and impels his search for the elusive meaning of existence.

Through his protagonist, the trumpet-playing philosopher poet, Mohlele weaves his unique magic with words, posing powerful questions in his inimitably individualistic and evocative style.

As a reminder to those already reading along, and those who are new, please submit your questions for the author, and/or photos of the book in interesting places, by email to marla@marlasinkdruzgal no later than next Wednesday, 12 August.

About August’s Author:

Author Nthikeng Mohlele (c) 2015 Nthikeng Mohlele
Author Nthikeng Mohlele (c) 2015 Nthikeng Mohlele

Nthikeng Mohlele was born in 1977 and grew up in Limpopo and Tembisa township, South Africa. He attended the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied BA Dramatic Art and African Literature. Small Things (2013) has been translated into Swedish as Joburg Blues (Weyler förlag, 2014). He was listed by Bloomsbury Publishing, Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club among the 39 most promising authors under the age of 40 from sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora. His latest novel, Rusty Bell, came out in 2014.

Twitter: @NthikengMohlele

If you haven’t yet gotten the book and you’re in the states, you should be able to find them in your local library. Otherwise, please see the link to purchase either Rusty Bell or Small Things. You can easily read one or both in a weekend.

Remember to snap pics of the book somewhere interesting, or with you reading it! Everyone who submits a question and/or photo will be entered to win a signed book from Nthikeng Mohlele. Submit all questions and/or photos to no later than next Wednesday, 12 August.

Love, MarLa

Upcoming Books:

September: Phillippa Yaa de Villiers
Book(s): Everyday Wife, and/or Taller Than Buildings
Read-by Date: 16 September 2015 Please read and email your questions no later than 16 September to

October: Mzilikazi wa Afrika
Book(s): Nothing Left to Steal
Read-by Date: 14 October 2015 PRE-ORDER ASAP by emailing . This book is currently only available as an e-book, but I can ship a paperback to you from South Africa.

November: Mandla Langa
Book(s): The Texture of Shadows (paper edition ships from SA. Order ASAP via MarLa)
11 November 2015

December: Niq Mhlongo
Book(s): Way Back Home
Read-by-Date: 16 December 2015

January through May, 2016
Thando Mgqolozana: A Man Who is Not a Man
Mamle Wolo: The Kaya-Girl (pre-order through Traveling MarLa)
Carol Campbell: Esther’s House
Ekow Duker: Dying in New York
Wame Molefhe: Go Tell the Sun
Sabata-mpho Mokae: Book launch this autumn, and he’s taking time for us online as well! Title to be announced in August.