Zakes Mda seems to enjoy writing about people who live on the outskirts of society, or who represent the lower class: the protagonist of his first novel, Toloki, was one such vagrant who spent his nights sleeping at the docks. This story follows another homeless character, simply known as the Whale Caller, who is not to be confused with the more famous Whale Crier of Hermanus. Mda’s jobless heroes, however, don’t remain so, but instead create their own jobs.
Toloki became a professional mourner, and the Whale Caller’s vocation arises out of his love for Sarisha, a Southern Right Whale who visits the coastline outside Hermanus. But, there is another woman in the Whale Caller’s life: Saluni, a vagrant with whom he shares an almost Boesman and Lena-like relationship. And so follows a story about the most unlikely love triangle you’ve ever heard of. It really shouldn’t work as a plot for a novel, but Mda’s skill makes it beautiful.
by: Calvin Scholtz, Wordsworth Longbeach