Contrary to confused belief, Five Fingers for Marseilles is not South Africa’s first Western. Our film industry is well-aged and with it comes eons of storytelling ingrained in our very souls. And this Western is neither the first nor is it original. It’s a pastiche of passion composed of Fordian frames and Leonean tension.
If you live in South Africa and have never met a Zimbabwean, you live under a rock. At one I point, I had two colleagues from Zimbabwe, one of whom (along with a South African colleague) recommended Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. Her novel marked the first time in my challenge that I chose a book recommended by someone from that country. It’s something I hope to do more of, as I progress in my travels. Nervous Conditions also ticks the other boxes for this challenge: the author is from Zimbabwe and the story is set in Zimbabwe.
When I found War of the Newts on the shelves of a secondhand bookstore, I remembered reading about it in an article from the Los Angeles Review of Books. Back then the story appealed to me, and upon finding the book and discovering the author was from the Czech Republic (a country I had not yet travelled to for my reading challenge), it inevitably became my next destination.