The History of Man
Fiction by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu
Catalyst Press, January 2022
Paperback, 301pp; $17.99
Set in a southern African country that is never named, this powerful tale of human fallibility—told with empathy, generosity, and a light touch—is an excursion into the interiority of the colonizer. Emil Coetzee, a civil servant in his fifties, is washing blood off his hands when the ceasefire is announced. Like everyone else, he feels unmoored by the end of the conflict. War had given him his sense of purpose, his identity. But why has Emil’s life turned out so different from his parents’, who spent cheery Friday evenings flapping and flailing the Charleston or dancing the foxtrot? What happened to the Emil who used to wade through the singing elephant grass of the savannah, losing himself in it?