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Cion: A Novel

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  132 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
A Picador Paperback Original

The hero of Zakes Mda's beloved Ways of Dying, Toloki, sets down with a family in Middle America and uncovers the story of the runaway slaves who were their ancestors.

Toloki, the professional mourner, has come to live in America. Lured to Athens, Ohio, by an academic at the local university, Toloki makes friends with an angry young man he meets
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 21st 2007 by Picador (first published March 14th 2003)
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Mocha Girl
Oct 12, 2009 Mocha Girl rated it it was amazing
I had not read of Ways of Dying or heard of Zakes Mda before reading the Essence article that featured Cion as the October 2007 book of the month. Based on the article's synopsis, I knew it was a book I wanted to read, so I ordered it immediately - in doing so, I have no regrets - what an insightful, creative, and often humorous read!

Cion follows the travels of Toloki, a professional mourner (which in itself is an unusual profession), as he ventures to Southeastern Ohio (Appalachian country). I
Jan 25, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
It took me a little while to figure out what was going on in this book, and many of the characters never developed in my imagination, but I really liked it. The author does a great job intervweaving a past story line with the present. The past story is about slavery in the US south; the current story is a "professional mourner" from South Africa who has come to the US to learn more about mourning.
Aug 22, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
I was befuddled initially but so glad I stuck with it. If you are familiar with Athens County, OH or Ohio University's Halloween bash, you'll be more interested in this.
Apr 02, 2011 S.B. rated it did not like it
A Big Thumbs Down

This book, Cion, by Zakes Mda, is very hard to read especially in the beginning. It is a far-fetched, disconnected story that jumps all over the place. To top it off the main character, Toloki, is a professional mourner. It is full of vile sexual content and foul language. The book recieved great praise by a few descendants who claim to have read it. Did they not see the insult to their people, be it true or not?

I do feel that Mr. Mda captured the essence of the area, Kilvert,
Barbara Rhine
May 07, 2014 Barbara Rhine rated it really liked it
A South African author has written this unusual book about the contemporary American South. Ruth is an African-American matriarch who runs her husband, grown children, garden and kitchen with a formidable energy driven by an indomitable right-wing Christian perspective. All believable, amazingly enough, this character alone makes this book worth reading.
Deborah Waugh
Jul 10, 2010 Deborah Waugh rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book written by a South African, now an American, who lived through the apartheid in his country. I was amazed at how well he portrayed the events of American slavery showing how two brothers, one sired by a white man and the other by a slave, escape to freedom via the designs on the quilts their mother made for them. One of the quilts survived through one of the brothers, giving only half a story to his present day descendants. As a result, the family’s matriarch holds her f ...more
Aug 09, 2008 Shamekia rated it really liked it
This book was definitely something else! I really liked it, but still don't quite know what to make of it. It's well-written and I really like the way Mda weaves the chapters through past and present(I have a special affinity for any author who "plays" with time in narrative).

This book also made me go and do my own research on breeding plantations, as I had no clue they existed.

All in all, I'd recommend it for anyone who's looking for a fresh voice, and a unique (to say the least) point of vie
Jun 01, 2011 Abby added it
Oh my goodness. I don't know what to say. I loved it, I guess, although admitedly it was confusing. It was very circular, or maybe more spiral-y. I love the story, though, and I love the dignity Mda gives to the undeniably ignorant. Because people deserve respect, first and foremost, on the basis of being people. We have to remember that.
Jeffrey Tigchelaar
Oct 20, 2009 Jeffrey Tigchelaar rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
By an Ohio U. prof, set here in and around Athens...can't wait to read it. I'll be happy if it's anywhere near as fantastic as the prequel, Ways of Dying (set, like all of Mda's novels up to this point, in Africa)... Go Zakes!
Jan 18, 2009 Llana rated it really liked it
Random and smart. I never really got a grip on it, but I never got the urge to walk away either. I love books that explore history through the present. Wish I had read Ways of Dying first.
Micheale-lynn Jackson
Nov 16, 2012 Micheale-lynn Jackson rated it really liked it
I read about this author & his book in my OU alumni magazine. I was entrigued by the book's setting, Athens OH. Our book club read it, we bought quilts as part of our dissuasion.
Dec 16, 2010 Tiah rated it really liked it
A unique way to tell old US slave history which carries over to modern issues. At times the story had me thinking to Brink's 'Devil's Valley,' but with much happier overtones.
Apr 26, 2008 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: didnt-finish
I don't like Mda's main character. It's no Beloved.
Mar 27, 2015 Beverly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
top read for 2007
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Zakes Mda is the pen name of Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda, a novelist, poet and playwright.

Although he spent his early childhood in Soweto (where he knew political figures such as Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela) he had to finish his education in Lesotho where his father went into exile since 1963. This change of setting also meant a change of language for Mda: from i
More about Zakes Mda...

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