Writer Magogodi oaMphela Makhene joined us to discuss the launch of her new short story collection, Innards, in conversation with journalist and novelist Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev). Set in Soweto, the urban heartbeat of South Africa, Innards tells the intimate stories of everyday Black folks processing the savagery of apartheid with grit, wit, and their own distinctive bewildering humor. The two authors discussed Makhene’s indelible cast of characters and their poignant journeys with forgiveness, rage, ugliness, and beauty, and the process of weaving together a moving set of narratives.
Photos by Macy Castañeda Lee
By Magogodi oaMphela Makhene
Published by Norton
Set in Soweto, the urban heartbeat of South Africa, Innards tells the intimate stories of everyday black folks processing the savagery of apartheid with grit, wit, and their own distinctive bewildering humor. Rich with the thrilling textures of township language and life, it braids the voices and perspectives of an indelible cast of characters into a breathtaking collection flush with forgiveness, rage, ugliness, and beauty. Meet a fake PhD and ex-freedom fighter who remains unbothered by his own duplicity, a girl who goes mute after stumbling upon a burning body, twin siblings nursing a scorching feud, and a woman unraveling under the weight of a brutal encounter with the police. At the heart of these stories about deceit and ambition, appalling violence, familial turmoil, and love is South Africa’s history of slavery, colonization, and apartheid. Like many Americans today, Innards’ characters must navigate the shadows of the recent past alongside the uncertain opportunities of the promised land.
Full to bursting with life, in all its complexities and vagaries, Innards is an uncompromising depiction of black South Africa. Visceral and tender, it heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.
Magogodi oaMphela Makhene
Magogodi oaMphela Makhene
Magogodi oaMphela Makhene is a proudly Soweto-made soul, who now makes her home anywhere with sunshine and writing space. An Iowa Writers’ Workshop alum, Magogodi is a Caine Prize, Hedgebrook, MacDowell and Rona Jaffe Award honoree. She leads immersive courses and experiences at Love as a Kind of Cure, a social enterprise she co-founded to dismantle white supremacy.
Photo Credit: Brett Shere
Dawnie Walton is a writer, editor, and author of the novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, winner of the Aspen Words Literary Prize, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and named one of the best books of 2021 by the Washington Post, NPR, Esquire, and former U.S. President Barack Obama, among others. Her work explores identity, place, and the influence of pop culture. Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships in fiction from MacDowell and Tin House, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared in Oxford American, Bon Appetit, NPR, Lithub, and Black Ballad. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband.