The title, A Hill of Fools was inspired by an isiXhosa classical novel by Professor RL Peteni titled Kwazidenge (1980).
A disturbing but beautifully penned account of the decay and collapse of a fictional country named Doma in post-independent Africa. The unscrupulous dictator, King Kunu, estranged from his wife Queen Etsiah demands that the brutal murder of his concubine, Anuba be thoroughly investigated by a crime investigator Anday, who had been previously unfairly banished from the palace by the very same King.
While at it Anday uncovers dangerous secrets and the impending downfall of the ruling king and his monarch.
The book shares the same sentiments with books such as The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah, Novuyo Tshuma’s House Of Stone, We, the Scarred by Mukoma wa Ngugi, We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo, and the classic from Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions to mention a few.
A Hill Of Fools is also a love story and a thrilling detective story, with themes of rape, murder, poverty, tribalism, slavery, class, slavery betrayal, family, corruption, love, and trust. Most of the chapters are titled’ Her Story’ and ‘His Story’.
The tale is related from a female and male perspective through characters, Ketiwe and Anday. The creative writing skill of the author, Mtutuzeli Nyoka is unquestionable. He has an excellent ability to keep the reader captivated throughout.
The killings by Ketiwe were similar to those in My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinka Braithwaite. When a character on page 20 laments that “I was raped for the first time when I was nine” and then proceeds on page 72 to gloat that “this was my first killing, I was thrilled somehow and knew that there had to be more” grotesque as it seemed, I was gripped.
A Hill Of Fools is appealing in that it is not all doom and gloom. It projects both the good and the bad on the African continent. Incorruptible, honest and morally steadfast characters like queen Etsiah, Anday, Apele and Chingokah are part of the kaleidoscope that is Africa our motherland.
A Hill Of Fools is Nyoka’s second novel. The first was I Speak To The Silent in 2004. His work of non-fiction was in 2015, a part memoir and corruption expose at Cricket SA, titled Deliberate Concealment: An Insiders Account Of Cricket South Africa.