Review: Hear Me Alone by Thando Mgqolozana
Title: Hear Me Alone
Author: Mgqolozana, Thando
Length: 140 pages
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Publisher / Year: Jacana / 2011
Source: Borrowed from Carina
Why I Read It: I was running out of reading material so had to read hers as well
Date Read: 31/03/12
In this, Mgqolozana’s second book, he takes on a topic we all know well and turns it on its head. Here he retells the familiar story of the Nativity based on the good friend of Miriam (Mary), Epher. He is in love with her and wants to marry her, and the story follows his life mainly as it interacts with hers and with the fateful actions that determine the trajectory of his life.
In this story religion is completely different from anything that I knew or was familiar with, and this creates lasting confusion throughout the book. It wasn’t explained enough to make sense, but somehow Epher is studying to be a Teacher of the Law which means some combination of doctor and lawyer. There are odd rituals involved in various things, people have ‘hear me alones’ which seem to be thoughts and are valued as from The Virgin, which is how they refer to the god. It almost seems as if the religion and customs described show a mix of early religious influence mixed with colonialization and various other myths.
Epher tells his story, in this novel, through flashbacks as he explains inconsistencies in the scriptures that have been chosen. Being intimately involved with situations, he knows the truth and wants to ensure that the truth is maintained. My favorite aspect of the story is the disdain that he shows for the patriarchal aspects in the codified religion and expresses that these mainly cultural factors shouldn’t be included in what is supposed to become a timeless religion. All should be honored rather than the way the codified religion is going to solidify oppression, he insists.
Overall, confusing and not fantastic, but interesting if you can make it through to the end.