Sigh, The Beloved Country

Bongani Madondo

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01 May 2016

Sigh, the Beloved Country is a saucy stew of literary performance that showcases essays, memoirs, the interview as an art-form, profile as a form of theatrical set-piece, travelogues, political epistles and excursions into fantasy and fiction. It speaks to disparate genres with the same spirit as it addresses a country no longer at ease with itself.

At turns explosive, funny, irascible, memoiristic and epic in scope, it is also cosy and personal for its obsession with minutiae. Whether at home with subversive artists in cities’ back alleys, or enjoying himself at the invite-only black-tux balls, in Sigh, the Beloved Country, the culture critic morphs into a storyteller, eavesdropper and something of a travelling jester throughout the land to share stories of its prophets, beauty and tragic figures.

Madondo is at his finest tackling themes as disparate as RACE and its ‘isms’, the New Bourgeoisie, the idea of God, nascent black Punk Culture and Black Magic. Simultaneously a synopsis and a critique of a country, Sigh, the Beloved Country comes out like a soul blast.

It also drops on the tenth anniversary of his debut, Hot Type, which was more concerned with the politics of glitz: What Madondo now refers to as ‘expensive crud’. With its inbuilt shrug, Sigh is less a fan-boy book enamoured with hipsters, and more of an adult lover and critic of a country in conversation with its people: The so-called ordinary folks, the wealthy, the beautiful, the deranged and the truly genius. They are People of the South.