Sukoluhle Nyathi

Meet --> Sukoluhle Sue Nyathi

Author of The Gold Diggers and The Polygamist

by Ezekiel Kekana

Sukoluhle Nyathi or Sue as she is affectionately known, is the most respected author from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. She introduced herself to many South Africans with her riveting novel, The Polygamist. And ever since then, many South African readers have fallen in love with her writing. Her latest novel, The Gold Diggers, continues to be among the most celebrated and well-read book in South Africa. EW Blog editor, Ezekiel Kekana, interviewed Sue in a bid to get know her on a personal level. Here is the Q&A of that conversation.

Question:

Can you describe your childhood background for us?

Answer:

 

I was born, bred and buttered in a city called Bulawayo. I am the second born in a family of four siblings. For the longest time, I was a middle child and then my sister was born when I was fifteen and we became four. We lived in a township called Luveve and post independence we migrated to the suburbs, which is where I grew up. We were a typical black middle class family and I have many fond childhood memories which are similar to many of us who grew up in the same era. I left Zimbabwe in 2008, which coincides with the start of the Gold Diggers. My parents still reside in Bulawayo. 

Question:

At what age did you realize that you want to be a writer?

Answer:

 

I was a writer from a very young age. I would cut pictures from magazines and write stories around them. By the time I was twelve I was writing mini novels premised on your Sweet Valley High series. These were circulated amongst students in my class and they became my first readers and they egged me to keep writing.

Question:

Who were five writers who inspired you to start writing?

Answer:

 

It would certainly be the following, in this order…
Francine Pascal, Jean M Auel, Helen van Slyke, Sidney Sheldon and Martina Cole.

Question:

Which are your five all-time favourite books?

Answer:

 

This is always a terribly difficult question to answer!!
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
An Elegy for Easterly Petina Gappah
The Last Don Mario Puzo
No Honour among Thieves Jeffrey Archer
Tanamera Noel Barber

Question:

If you were to co-write a book with any author, who will that be?

Answer:

 

Another tough question. I think it would have to be Desiree Martin. I love how she writes and I think we would be able to craft some magic together.

Question:

What challenges do you normally face during the writing process?

Answer:

 

I think for me it’s finding the uninterrupted quiet time to write. The challenges of writing, trying to earn a living and raising a child are very real. I am one of those people who can only write in complete silence.

Question:

What are the benefits of being a writer in Africa?

Answer:

 

I honestly can’t perceive any to be honest unless you are a Nigerian writer. West African writers are the flavour of African writing and Southern African writers tend to be largely ignored. The only value of being a writer in Africa is when you get published overseas and suddenly you will get more endorsements in Africa.
In the big scheme of themes, African writers still get a small piece of the pie.

Question:

Will you advice young people to pursue writing as a full-time profession?

Answer:

 

I would not advise anyone to pursue writing as a full time profession until they become a bestselling international author. Only then is it a sustainable career choice. The reality is most African countries can’t support writers full time because we simply can’t achieve the sales. So the reality is most people will write full time while pushing a full time job. What I would advise is for young people to pursue careers that will give them a leeway to write e.g. teaching, lecturing, scriptwriting. You want a career that will enable you to pay your bills while giving you the flexibility to write.

Question:

Which book are you currently reading?

Answer:

 

I am reading Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi. I have been reading it for a while. I thought I would progress during Lockdown but reading has actually been a struggle. I have actually been doing more writing than reading.

Question:

Are there any plans to turn one of your books into a mini-series or even a movie?

Answer:

 

The Polygamist was optioned in 2017 as a movie. It is still in development. There was interest to convert the Gold Diggers into a series but I have not received any firm offers.

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