Review of Thando Mgqolozana – Unimportance / by Nick Mulgrew

Sunday Times
June 2014


In turns hilarious and plaintive, Thando Mgqolozana’s finely-crafted third novel Unimportance follows SRC presidential candidate Zizi in the hours before he is due to deliver a manifesto to an expectant crowd at his Western Cape university. Part allegory and part campus novel, Unimportance is eventful to put it mildly, as a series of distressing events leads Zizi to urgently re-evaluate the course of his life.

Mgqolozana succeeds as much in delivering nuanced arguments about electoral politics as he does in creating a convincing portrait of what a transformed local university campus might look like. The characters are flawed, reprehensible even; but relatable, brimming with verve and juggling with refreshingly hybrid identities. The disarmingly self-aware Zizi in particular is an excellent conduit for the book’s empathetic explorations of the mechanics of ambition and the traumas of young adulthood; a suitable figurehead for a narrative loaded with an emotional burden that belies its lithe prose.