A few months back, I was surprised to open the new email connected to this website, and found an email asking me if I was interested in being on the podcast Late Night Library. At first I thought it was some kind of spam. There was no way that Late night Library would be interested in little old me. This is a podcast I listen to. I mean they had just recently had one of my all time favorite poets Terrance Hayes on the program and now they were asking me. But lo and behold, it was genuine.
SO I of course said yes. That is when they told me I would be reading and discussing The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga. When I researched Ntshanga, I found out he was a PEN Award winner, and was again somewhat skeptical of the validity of the request. But I, praying it was true, accepted. It took awhile for the book to arrive, and of course I needed to read it during finals of the winter term. But I was so floored by the honor of being asked to participate in such a reputable podcast I was willing to take on the extra work. And it was well worth it.
The book is phenomenal. Written in present tense (WOW!), it takes place in South Africa circa the early 2000s. Dealing with life as a South African, drugs, HIV, drug treatment and bureaucracy and its victims, The Reactive continues to deliver blow by blow punches of unadulterated reality. I was stunned by the narrators use of present tense and his sense of discovery. It is no wonder this cat won a PEN Award.
Asking my dear friend Cooper Lee Bombardier to join me as my guest, we had a ball discussing the book as we do just that when discussing anything literary. We are kind of word nerds in that regard. But I also had the honor of speaking Ntshanga himself, and discussing some of the key elements of his writing style. He was pleased with my line of questioning, as it reached more into his craft as a writer and less into the obvious cultural tourist type questions that I assume many writers abroad would get from your average white Western audience. All in all, it was a very pleasant experience and I think Masande and I have become somewhat of long lost friends. We hope to someday meet each other and I look forward to his future endeavors.
Here is the podcast. Hope you enjoy it. And make sure you check out Ntshanga’s book, The Reactive.