Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE


@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Masande Ntshanga’s Debut Novel The Reactive Launched with Imraan Coovadia at The Book Lounge

Masande Ntshanga

Diffident and self-deprecating, Masande Ntshanga cut a reticent figure in his simple black T-shirt at the launch of The Reactive at The Book Lounge recently. Although “reactive” was printed across his chest in plain white capitals, the author was decidedly calm (if a bit bemused) at all attention coming the way of his debut novel.

Imraan Coovadia and Masande NtshangaThe ReactiveNtshanga, who won the 2013 PEN International/New Voices Award, was joined in a fascinating, erudite and witty conversation with his MA in Creative Writing mentor, Imraan Coovadia. The author of Tales of the Metric System quizzed his erstwhile student on – among other things – why he had seen him so seldom in class!

The Book Lounge owner Mervyn Sloman described The Reactive as having been eagerly awaited: “This is a very ‘Cape Town’ book. It’s beautifully written with a soft and sensitive hand, at the same time hard-hitting and compelling.”

Coovadia read an extract from The Reactive, praising the prose for its ability to “surprise and take hold of you”. He asked Ntshanga where his story comes from. “The process of writing happens at the sentence level,” Ntshanga said. “It takes a while before you can get to that moment because obviously you approach a project with a lot of preconceptions and a lot of ideas about what you want to do. It cheers you up to a certain extent but after that you have to let go of it. The writing I like – I only feel half responsible for. It sounds like something I’ve written …”

Ntshanga then read an extract from The Reactive, upon which Coovadia reflected. He said no other South African writer trimmed their prose in quite the same way. “You’ve shaved the conversation down. There’s nothing extra on that,” he said.

Ntshanga was reluctant to take full credit for that. He said, “When composing a novel, a lot of stuff just happens accidentally, especially when you have somebody else reading your work.” He said he’d been influenced by his editor, who worked with a very light touch. He found that as he was writing, he heard a note that rang true.

Coovadia raised a laugh when he said, “The book is about a guy who spends a lot of time with glue. How do you know so much about glue?” Ntshanga disclosed little about his research, but spoke of the good experience of going to the Eastern Cape where he was able to write in solitude and get a lot of work done in peace and quiet.

Ntshanga’s many friends and family in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the event and readers were eager to get their copies of the book signed afterwards.

* * * * * * * * *

Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:

Facebook gallery


Book details


Please register or log in to comment