I am not a sangoma or seer, but I can easily foresee that Sue Nyathi’s latest novel would deliver numerous literary awards for her come next year. The writing and originality of the story, places An Angel’s Demise into the award-winning categories. I had the pleasure of reading all Sue’s three previous works and I must say that on this one she had outdone herself. She should be congratulated for delivering this masterpiece.
In An Angel’s demise, young Angel Williams finds herself having to fight for love, identity and belonging not only in her new adopted white family that fails to recognize her internal battle with the self but also in a country that is at war with itself. However, with her two “angels” always protecting her, she had to navigate through struggles and pains to survive the horrors that form the daily part of her life in Somabhula.
Love, politics, African spirituality, political violence, war, land dispossession, racism, and identity are just some of the themes that serve up the narrative throughout. Perusing through the pages of this novel, I develop a new sense of respect for Sue as a storyteller. She meticulously uses Zimbabwean political history to show how black Zimbabweans in pre-post independence have only known suffering. The sad part is that this has not even change to date.
The scribe forces the reader to see why the current socio-economic and political woes of Zimbabwe are result of her bloody past which has since created the small block of the elites(mostly political connected elites) and a massive poor black population.
The authenticity of the characters made me ask myself who in the current and even past leadership that led Zimbabwe since independence they might be representing. And this truly speaks about the originality of this story.
At every turn of a page, as a reader you can’t but appreciate the scribe’s deep and personal knowledge about the history of her native country.
However, I think one thing that as a reader you will not miss throughout is that this is a story written by a Ndebele scribe with a bit of intentional bias. And as a Shona and/or non-Ndebele person, you can easily accuse her of trying to position the Ndebele political elites as angels who had no hand in the collapse of Zimbabwe that we know now.
Besides that, An Angel’s Demise is an intriguing and well-researched piece of fiction that beautifully captures Zimbabwean history through the eyes of those who have known nothing but injustice and cruelty from the entitled political elites. This is a fiction that is non-fiction.
An optioned movie on this novel is something to be wished for.