My mother died seven times before she gave birth to me” is the opening sentence of Mashigo’s debut novel and it will only make sense once you start following and grasping the story. It is difficult ignore a debut novel which has Zakes Mda’s endorsement on its cover as a selling point. Mda describes Mashigo’s debut novel as a “bewitching addition to the current South African literary boom” and indeed, it becomes quite obvious right from the beginning why the legendary Mda would put his proverbial life on the line for this haunting book.


Marubini is Mashigo’s protagonist who works at a wine estate in Cape Town while living a comfortably middle class life with her French restaurant-owner boyfriend, Pierre. When she was a little girl, she lost the closest person to her heart and always walked around with a void which she could not quite figure out. “Grief is so elusive; just when you think the worst is over, it comes back to remind you how empty your life is without the person whom you lost”, she notes sadly.


While at face value it looks like Marubini’s breakdowns and seizures are caused by the said loss, the reader learns that all is not as plain and simple upon deeper interrogation. Is she haunted? Is it a Calling? She is yearning for the truth, but she is just as confused. Through his art works, her younger brother Simphiwe, who seems to have the same traits as Marubini and their late father, comes handy in helping her resolve the past which seems to be disrupting her present at such a great speed. It is a painful chain of trauma and mystery which can be traced to different generations of the protagonist’s family.


One of the refreshing things about this story is reading a South African book where young girls do not grow up with grandparents and parents teaching them to aspire to marriage. Instead, the older generation takes the young girls through traditional rituals and cheerfully announce to the other women “Here are the Women who return back home as their own wives” upon their return. And this is not done in a male bashing fashion; in fact males are the last reason for the existence of these rituals.


Previous studies have shown that women who do not feel affirmed by their fathers develop a tendency to respond to the men in their lives as they once responded to their elusive father because they desperately seek intimacy but are unable to believe that men can be trusted and so they remain always on guard. We see how valid this is with Marubini from following her relationship with her father, grandfather; brother and how it translates to her romantic relationship with her boyfriend.


The past is always part of the present. This is evident in our political, social and economic landscapes. In sensitively guiding her protagonist to a better place of discovery and healing, Mashigo has managed to mold together traditional and modern ways whilst considering how the past influences the present in all sorts of ways. The reader is also left with a better understanding of how, when it comes to traditional ways of being and healing, it’s not always black and white. Even though the book ends prematurely, Mashigo explores all these contradictions with such sensitivity leaving the reader with a sense of satisfaction from discovering that these contradictions do not necessarily bring doom and gloom with them.


The Yearning is published by Picador Africa.


By Siyamthanda Skota



  1. Sounds like a lovely book and nice review. I will definitely buy it and report back.

  2. Sounds like a nice read, I have gone back to reading and stopped being stingy by downloading PDf I know buy hard copy…. I will buy this one once I finish the ones I am reading

    I bought chimamandas books on take a lot they were on special.

  3. nice review hey i have read most of Chimamandas books @anatomy; except that thing around your neck.. thinking is it worth it.. guys anyone that has read it pls share

  4. @Anatomy Check out Reader’s Warehouse as well for books. Their prices are MUCH cheaper than Takealot. I buy from them often – I got Americanah for R99 from there, and Takealot sells it for bout 50% more than that, if not more.

  5. @nelly the Americah book, lost me when she started talking about london. I felt like she put 8 stories in one book, maybe I will finish it on my next vacation.

    Gps me to the pdf..but south african books loses me, in the middle. But, I will keep trying.

    Question is Fidel castro a hero or detector? Is the SA flag really down ? Kodwa, I want my money from my history teacher, they didnt teach me nothing important. Now, here I am googling answers, when I am suppose to be going to work.

  6. neely, its only short stories which leave you hanging at first I wanted to put it down but each story is interesting I ended up finishing the whole book.

  7. Oh miss-a had I known before I thought I was bargaining from takealot I bought americanah for 138. Thanks a lot

  8. I feel like crying now. I would’ve saved a lot…… I will def use them in future their prices are very low

  9. I just saw John Grisham’s new book titled “The Whistler”…I will get it. I will try Chimamanda’s books. I have never read them before. Which one is the best guys?

  10. shilowa i agree with you but i stuck it out! I need to open half of a yellow sun and purple hibiscus again! Those i thoroughly enjoyed reading. I was also under the impression Fidel Castro was a dictator.. im busy on google reading LOL

  11. oh great off to buy thanks for readers warehouse miss_a Thanks blackdiadem and anatomy. Am definitely reading those any more recommendations guys?

  12. I am inlove with books. I just finished Americanah, I enjoyed it. Yesterday I saw a colleague caring a thick book saying they will read and finish it at 23H00. I was like what?? I read 50 pages a day and I dont read when I am from night school. I felt lazy shame.

    In another news that excite me. I am helping a guy friend of mine plan a surprise dinner for proposing his ex girlfriend tomorrow. I am praying bakithi avume uyathandwa. lol

  13. Cutie Purple hibiscus I would recommend

    Nelly I am a fan of Malcolm gladwell, I enjoyed outliers

  14. Sorry to off ramp guyz. ExBaeNeighbour is moving out today. He is moving into his house. He came by my place on monday night unannounced. The usual vhele. He was declaring his undying silly love for me. I laughed hysterically. On the love part the feeling is mutual yaz. But I can’t take him back. I will always come second to ExWife. He needs to move on properly first. So this morning he brought back my calculator. I was in the shower. So left it on the window. I always dreamed of this day. I wanted it to come sooner. Because i got fed up of his clienting ways right in our complex. But I saw tears running down my face when I was putting on the lotion. I felt like the biggest part of me is leaving. I’m still emotional about it.

  15. Awww…@Akariya, I love romance, I helped a friend of mine plan his honeymoon earlier this year and they had a blast, felt so proud of myself.

  16. I love reading books hle. Anything I just read nje. For as long as I have something to look forward to in bed. *Let me send boss’s daily report then will catch up after*

  17. Cutie, Half of a yellow sun is the best for me but I have not read Purple Hibiscus, I will buy it soon.

  18. @Brokenfleur lol she is ex because she accepted Christ as the Lord and saviour – Skwiza typa salvation. I feel like Vanessa from all you need is love.

  19. I heard Kentse Badirwang on Masechaba Ndlovu’s show on Power FM recently and her story seemed nteresting. She has written a book about her life, Kattey’s Arrow and it on my book shopping list for December.

  20. aweee @akariya that is beautiful. i also have a guy friend who is marrying his girlfriend of 9 months LOL! When men meet the one shame LOL you cant do anything about it. and he always swore he would never get with a girl with a kid but clearly he is mincing his words right now LOL

    blackdiadem:- did you recommend Triumps of the waterlily by Ify Osammor . I have been looking for this book guys i cannot find it anywhere GPS

  21. Who read and understood Coconut by Kopano Matlwa? I tried but I kept getting lost and confused with each page, maybe I stopped reading at page 20. What is the book about vele?

  22. If lolo could focus less on her tongue talent and focus more on her writing talent she could reach Chimamanda’s level.

  23. anyone ever read this book? Memories of My Melancholy Whores i bought and i cant put it down
    I saw another book i have been looking for; second class citizen on reader’s warehouse! Its expensive! *cringe

  24. Hamilton says:
    If lolo could focus less on her tongue talent and focus more on her writing talent she could reach Chimamanda’s level.

    so true.

  25. Re: Reader’s Warehouse – it’s a pleasure, ladies. I hope all of you find what you’re looking for on there 🙂
    Reader’s Warehouse is at my workplace since yesterday – I just got back from getting Purple Hibiscus, can’t wait to read it! I’m almost done with Americanah but I’ve stopped reading it cos I’m not ready to let go of it and the characters, I love it and them too much. But I’ll finish it this week and move on to Purple Hibiscus.

    Jodi Picoult is my guilty pleasure. Just finished ‘Salem Falls’ by her. And izolo I bought ‘Nineteen Minutes’. I’m such a fan of her work, I definitely recommend her for those looking for stuff to read.

  26. @Hamilton i read the book many years ago and it enjoyed and i think i read it twice, i would love to explain it to you qha i need isiba lika Lolo to do justice to the book …phinda uyizame maybe this time around you’ll get it.
    I got Trevor Noah’s book izolo due to FOMO otherwise not really my thing worse iyadura at CNA. I still want to get Fred Khumalo’ s Touch my blood for the holidays

  27. @ Shilowa Americanah also lost me a bit but ndanyamezela until i followed the story and its beautiful love does win nyani….I’m such a huge fan of her work uphiwe lasisi ninani.

  28. sigbenga I will try it again, thanks. I read Touch my blood a long time ago and it is one of the best South African stories.

  29. Why is JustNje blocked?? What happened?
    I am struggling to get through the week guys, Im not tired just restless for the weekends. I am in such a happy space after a crappy year, it feels like there is something huge coming my way. I cant wait to wrap this year up.

  30. @ Hamilton i gather as much ngoba i read his Seven Steps to Heaven yhuuu i loved it and couldn’t believe a writer can carry such a story with so much truth …
    I read and buy books by african writers most of the time, i roll my eyes when someone suggests abo Daneille Steel i’ve been there ndiyabonga…..there’s just something about a book written by Sindisiwe Magona and the likes that just resonates with my being

  31. sgebengu let me check it, nam I like to keep it local but not all the time I also like Mich Albom’s books.

  32. Sofia i assumed she was blocked! but @momager said no she is just busy preparing for her wedding! I also love Jodi Picoult!

    Hhayi ke useyathola icougar ! im just around the corner! kungesik’dala

  33. When i was in high school i read Sweetness in belly by Camilla Gibb and ever since then i tend to shy away from books that are about “nice life problems” ….a friend borrowed me The girl on the train back in June i read it and saw the movie as well its good but still can someone make a movie based on Half yellow Sun already please!

  34. @Hamilton, I want my money back for that book Coconut, it was badly written and the storyline crisp enough. I don’t know how it won awards. It did such a bad job of discussing the “coconut” label and issues people experience with this model c,I-speak-english-only phenomena.

  35. Fred Khumalo is definitely a gifted writer, such a pleasure to read, Bitches Brew was also good.
    Im trying to get into Zakes Mda.
    Im just thinking about The Suit and how petty Philemon was, i mean he wasnt bekezeling, he was just being petty

  36. Hi Nelly, Yes it was me who recommended Triumph of the water Lily, mine i had on a family visit to Lagos, back in 2002. I think its still on sale will check and get back to you.

  37. @Sebzy Thandie Newton i’ll check it out yhuu kwaske kwaphela umdla siyaqhathwa kodwa @My One i’ll take your word for it
    hahahaha Sebzy unyanisile Philemon was petty AF yhuuu #ayilimaza amadoda

  38. I read this book, its a great read indeed. Thanks for the review Siya.
    This year was a slow read year for me, only read about 18 books. I read so many business journals though. That should count for something.
    I thought Outliers was the ish until I read Zero to One which further challenges Malcolm’s thoughts. Not entirely but to some level.
    Read Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. I must go back to them too, it was ages ago.
    I am struggling getting into A God of Small Things, i have no idea why. I keep on getting back to the other book i’m reading.
    2017 its me and african literature. Its a promise I have to keep to mysefl.

  39. mjengeka I can offer you a loan but know that we sign an agreement and I attach you furniture and clothes should you fail to pay.

  40. the curator i thought i was the only one i have tried starting the God of Small things! one time i even fell asleep reading it

  41. @Nelley and the Curator i read that book for 3 months ndimane ndiyiyeka it’s just sooo slow you but once i got into it every sentence made sense and i highlighted so many paragraphs …..the end though is very sad but goes to show how flawed humans are.

  42. The God of small things is pretty great but it takes a while to get into. I loved it the 1st time I read it but couldn’t get into it the second time. My favourite chimamanda book is americanah, absolutely loved it.

  43. Wow! Ok, glad I’m not the only one. Phela I got the heads up here on these streets. Will also soldier on. Today is slow, whats hapenning?

  44. Off ramp : My girls and I are doing Cape Town from the 27th of December until 4 January please Cape tonians (sp) recommend nice chilling places where we can get blessers if possible. RUNS!!!

  45. Usually when a woman goes snooping, it’s usually for confirmation. @Sslave’s gut and many other hints have already given her husband away and she went in looking for evidence vele

  46. Chimamanda is a story teller.. She just flows and dress you in, there are writers, there are story tellers
    I loved the way she portrays her characters.. The way she portrayed
    “Ifemelu” “Kambili” in Americannah
    The use of igbo names that mean/ linked to the events that surrounded their births..

  47. Thank you JC for the book review articles. I am currently reading the book you reviewed last week ” A man who is not a man”. I try by all mean to read more African literature. I haven’t yet been able to read Adichie’s books but would recommend Angela Makholwa’s books, Redi Tlhabi’s book is a good as well.

  48. This post bought me out of SV of many many years… Definitely will be getting the book. One book I recommend is called ‘Zenzele: A letter to my daughter’ by J. Nozipo Maraire. It is one of my absolute favourites. Every black woman should read it.

  49. @the curator I also struggled with the God of small things I didn’t finish it. I just finished half of a Yellow Sun now reading Purple Hibiscus

  50. I just finished reading Adultery by Paulo Coelho,a total disappointment for me.It’s nothing compared to his many books I’ve read.It was a no “value for money”….
    Thanks to the blogger who mentioned Reader’s Warehouse….

  51. I’m so late for this party
    I love Chimamanda’s books. I have all of them. I’m always left feeling empty at the end of the story. I can’t get over how we never really find out what happened to Kainene.
    And her portrayal of South Africans is very interesting. In one short story about a group of writers from all over Africa, the South African is the homophobe which I find very weird/interesting

  52. A friend recommended Fascinating womanhood.. who has read it and is it worth it.. Am struggling to finish the Lord bae’s (Khaya Dlanga)first book .. its too shallow!!

  53. I loved half of a yellow sun . I didnt enjoy Americanah at al,l i also dont get the buzz around it. It was all over for me. Purble hibuscus not too bad.
    Yall should also read The kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, he is a phenomenal writer.

  54. @Wangenza i wont read Khaya Dlanga’s book that i’d rather read the daily sun, to think that i used to be a fan of his column on news 24 and the M&G ….he became sooo shallow over the years , i hate how he romanticise poverty unezothe

  55. Wangenza, your mentioning of Khaled Hosseini brought me here. I love that man’s writing. My favourite is A Thousand Splendid Suns. I read that book years ago and that story hasn’t left me. So beautifully heartbreaking.

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