The Cry of Winnie Mandela


“The Cry of Winnie Mandela transgresses the borders between fact and fiction, fusing aspects of the novel, biography and essay.  It is a beautiful book, the writing lucid and quietly passionate, a work of deep intelligence.” Chris Dunton, Mail & Guardian

The life story of Winnie Mandela remains one of the great dramas of our times, an ongoing tale of triumphs and tragedies that is still unfolding.  In The Cry of Winnie Mandela, a highly acclaimed novel first released in 2003, Njabulo S. Ndebele focuses on four women at a specific period in the history of Southern Africa who have spent time waiting for their men to return.  Their ordinary, ‘private’ stories are anchored to the more powerful public stories of Penelope, of ancient Greek mythology, who waited nineteen years while her husband Odysseus was away, and Winnie Mandela, who waited for twenty-seven years.  The women question themselves and each other about how and why they waited and what this waiting did to them, leading to a series of extraordinary and haunting ‘conversations’ with one another as well as with Penelope and Winnie.

This revised edition includes an introduction by the author as well as articles on the novel that can be used to reflect on and explore the story further.