By Alfred Schaffer
Translated by Michele Hutchison
Partly inspired by Chaka, a famous South African novel from 1931, written by Thomas Mofolo, the book charts the imaginary progress of the nineteenth-century statesman and tyrant, Shaka Zulu (1787-1828). Structured around a series of daydreams and major events in Zulu’s life, the poet extracts Zulu from the historical past and moves him to the modern media age where speed dating, UFOs and effervescent pain-killers are the norm. The collection is hugely diverse, from lyrical poetry to tweets to wit.
Alfred Schaffer (1973) is one of the most talented Dutch poets of his generation. Unrest. Anxiety. Suspicion. Curiosity. This was the young poet’s response to the question as to what motivated him as a poet. He debuted in 200o with the collection His Rise in the Suburbs. His second book, Vagrants (2002), was nominated for the prestigious VSB Prize. Among the prizes Schaffer has won are the C. Buddingh’ prize, the Ida Gerhardt poetry prize, and the Jan Campert prize. Schaffer moved to South Africa in 2011 and hecurrently works as a lecturer at Stellenbosch University.Michele Hutchison is a British writer and translator, mainly of Dutch-language literature. She won the 2020 International Booker Prize for her translation of The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. She was also awarded the Vondel Prize 2019 for her translation of Stage Four by Sander Kollaard.