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Ways of Dying (Toloki #1)
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Ways of Dying > Ways of Dying: Week 1 (Chapters 1-2)

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Carolien (carolien_s) Welcome to our first week of reading Ways of Dying. This is the first of one of my favourite South African author's books that we are reading in this group.


John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments I'm surprised to find that Zake's books aren't available on kindle. I'll have to get to a bookstore - will delay my participation. Sorry, Carolien.


Carolien (carolien_s) I generally find that his books are difficult to buy. I saw one copy in Exclusive Books, but then found that between the three libraries that I visit, they have quite a few of his books. So for this round, I'm a proud library supporter. Lisa is also battling to get a copy.


Anastasia Kinderman | 9 comments I'll join in on this discussion if I can. I requested a copy through ILL and if they can't find one then I'll just buy a copy from Amazon.


message 5: by Lisa (last edited Nov 04, 2014 01:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
There's ebooks on Kalahari.
There is one library copy in the whole of CT...
Really miss joburg's libraries.


Carolien (carolien_s) One of the themes that Zakes Mda often explores in his books is the tension between the modern, urban lifestyle and more traditional, rural lifestyle. In this case, he introduces it via the memories of Toloki of his younger days in a village where he knew Noria. That is a theme that resonates with many South Africans who are still exposed to both.

I am enjoying Toloki as a character. The way in which he obtained his costume is quite amusing!


John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments In Heart of Redness, Zakes's 3rd novel, he starts in a similar fashion to Ways of Dying: the protagonist, a male, meets a mystery girl he recognises from his old village. Surprising.

I wish Toloki would take a shower and clean his costume - I find myself holding my breath for those around him.
Otherwise, I'm enjoying Zakes's storytelling ability.


Carolien (carolien_s) I loved Heart of Redness and I agree that the start is very similar.

Reading about the cause of death at the various funerals he attends, is a bit like reading any South African newspaper. I've heard various SA crime writers comment over the years that our newspapers provide loads of inspiration and plot ideas.


Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Finally got my copy
Can't wait to join


Carolien (carolien_s) The Sunday Independent had a long extract from his latest book today - Rachel's Blue. It's the first one set in the US as far as I know.


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
The description of Toloki (and his scent) made me laugh. There's a great evocation of emotion here. Showing not telling.

I've never thought of professional mourners in an African context, always associated them with American Indians and cultures that are long gone.
Trying to look this up


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Found references to this book and adverts on internet. Now asking people:-)


Anastasia Kinderman | 9 comments Lisa wrote: "The description of Toloki (and his scent) made me laugh. There's a great evocation of emotion here. Showing not telling.

I've never thought of professional mourners in an African context, always a..."


That's funny because I've always though of professional mourners in an African context, not a Native American context. xD


message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Welcome Anastasia. I that idea from 'I heard the owl call my name.' Obviously I could be very wrong.

So my reading and asking: professional mourners are still prevalent in the east: India, China, Japan & Northern Africa with eastern connections.

In Zulu culture, more historical. Common in the time of Shaka but faded with Westernization & Christianity. But Kings and elevated people may still make use of them as part on tradition.

Perhaps Mda uses something more distant and traditional here to further demonstrate the urban- rural clash.


message 15: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Lisa wrote: "Welcome Anastasia. I that idea from 'I heard the owl call my name.' Obviously I could be very wrong.

So my reading and asking: professional mourners are still prevalent in the east: India, China, ..."


Western funeral services are, in effect, professional mourners. They create an atmosphere of mourning, even if they do not say anything. It seems that all cultures need help with the grieving process.


message 16: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Imagine Toloki and his suit working for AVBOB or Dove.
Good point though John, a.though don't funeral services facilitate the expression of grief as opposed to expressing grief?


message 17: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Lisa wrote: "Imagine Toloki and his suit working for AVBOB or Dove.
Good point though John, a.though don't funeral services facilitate the expression of grief as opposed to expressing grief?"


Ha! Lovely image.


message 18: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Toloki's history is sad- being rejected by his father. I wonder if he created an important and otherworldly role for himself to overcome this? I love how he got his costume- it sounds like a Phantom of the Opera get-up. I can just picture him wandering around, offering his services.


message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Noria is setup as controversial from Toloki's history: 'stealing' a father's affection, her own interesting genetic history, legend and birth.


Anastasia Kinderman | 9 comments Lisa wrote: "Noria is setup as controversial from Toloki's history: 'stealing' a father's affection, her own interesting genetic history, legend and birth."

I was amused when the nurses tried to explain to the people there was no way Noria got her ears from the doctor.

I don't believe I have ever read a book from this point of view before. I'm enjoying it immensely.


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Glad you're enjoying it


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