The Whale Caller
By Zakes Mda
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312425876, 240pp.)
Publication Date: October 17, 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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As Zakes Mda's fifth novel opens, the seaside village of Hermanus is overrun with whale-watchers--foreign tourists determined to see whales in their natural habitat. But when the tourists have gone home, the whale caller lingers at the shoreline, wooing a whale he has named Sharisha with cries from a kelp horn. When Sharisha fails to appear for weeks on end, the whale caller frets like a jealous lover--oblivious to the fact that the town drunk, Saluni, a woman who wears a silk dress and red stiletto heels, is infatuated with him.
The two misfits eventually fall in love. But each of them is ill equipped for romance, and their relationship suggests, in the words of The Washington Post, that "the deeper, darker concern here is not so much the fragility of love, but the fragility of life itself when one surrenders wholly to the foolish heart."
A longtime writer-in-residence at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, Zakes Mda is now a professor of creative writing at Ohio University. He lives in Athens, Ohio and Johannesburg, South Africa.
A masterpiece of understatement, The Whale Caller is the real winner among this year's crop of South African fiction. . . . One of the best novels of the year.
Earthy [and] bizarrely charming.
A tour de force . . . [and] testament to Mda's considerable gifts as a storyteller . . . He creates a world that operates according to the fluid logic of a dream.