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The Reactive Author Masande Ntshanga Reflects on the Different Reality of Ordinary People

The ReactiveMasande Ntshanga chatted to Daily News recently, as part of the newspaper’s “Out of the Darkness” series.

Diane de Beer says Ntshanga is “part of that new generation whose thoughts and ideas are so intriguing”, and asks the author about the pressure that comes with accolades.

The Reactive, Ntshanga’s debut novel, has already scored two international book deals, and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize as well as the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize. Ntshanga himself won the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award and was shortlisted for the 2015 Caine Prize.

Ntshanga admits that he has been made somewhat “uncomfortable” by the recognition, adding that “writers are withdrawn by nature”.

On his novel, Ntshanga says he tries to find the extraordinary in the ordinary:

In The Reactive, the three protagonists are living on the extreme edges of society. Characters are what he deals with, their lives which he describes as “having slipped through the cracks”. Or, perhaps more precisely, he’s writing about ordinary people’s lives.

“We have evaluated both the good and bad narratives in the country,” he says.

He wants to dig in different places. We know the historical facts, but don’t wholly believe it all and we need to find new meaning in our lives.

His characters are experiencing a different reality. And, again, we’re not talking politics here; it’s about life, that thing ordinary people can’t escape.

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