Welcome to Our Hillbrow: A Novel of Postapartheid South Africa

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Welcome to Our Hillbrow is an exhilarating and disturbing ride through the chaotic and hyper-real zone of Hillbrow-microcosm of all that is contradictory, alluring, and painful in the post-apartheid South African psyche.

Everything is there: the shattered dreams of youth, sexuality and its unpredictable costs, AIDS, xenophobia, suicide, the omnipotent violence that often cuts short the promise of young people’s lives, and the Africanist understanding of the life continuum that does not end with death but flows on into an ancestral realm.

Infused with the rhythms of the inner-city pulse, this courageous novel is compelling in its honesty and its broad vision, which links Hillbrow, rural Tiragalong, and Oxford. It spills out the guts of Hillbrow-living with the same energy and intimate knowledge with which the Drum writers wrote Sophiatown into being.

“In his 2001 novel, Welcome to Our Hillbrow, Mpe captured the dislocation and despair of people who moved in the late ’90s from rural South Africa to Hillbrow, a rough neighborhood in downtown Johannesburg with overcrowded high-rises and a large population of immigrants from elsewhere in Africa. In the South African literary imagination, Hillbrow has come to represent everything frightening and promising about the new South Africa; it is at once a scene of drugs, crime and xenophobia toward immigrants and also what theorists enthusiastically call ‘Afropolitan,’ a space that transcends national boundaries.” New York Times

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