Young Blood

Catalyst. Apr. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781946395481. pap. $16.95. F
Like many a young person in the Umlazi township of Durban, South Africa, Sipho left school during 10th grade. Though he excelled at soccer, he was more comfortable under the hood of a car, helping his dad at their small auto repair business. But when Musa, an old pal from the neighborhood, returns from Johannesburg in a classic BMW, sporting Versace clothing and flashing cash, Sipho gets that his friend is now a player in the carjacking game. Musa, in need of Sipho’s expertise with vehicles, entices him with weed, booze, and other unaccustomed luxuries. Still, Sipho feels torn between the glamour of crime and the steady love and traditional future offered by his girl, Nana. When Sipho consciously decides to leave his solid upbringing and innocence behind, readers will weep. With crisp, cinematic prose, Mzobe transports us into the dark abyss of Durban’s harrowing nightlife, where gang violence is rife, life is precarious, and young blood is carelessly used and discarded.
VERDICT Winner of the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa when it was first published 10 years ago, this raw coming-of-age novel will resonate with its new audiences for its all-embracing tale of young people eager to escape poverty but with too few choices.
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