Pan Macmillan has shared an excerpt from Born Freeloaders, the highly anticipated first novel from Phumlani Pikoli.
Born Freeloaders is in stores in October.
Pikoli is a multidisciplinary artist whose writing has been described as ‘a generational ode’. His first book, a collection of stories called The Fatuous State of Severity, was published by Pan Macmillan last year.
Read on, from Born Freeloaders:
Uncle Zweli was Xolani’s father’s brother. He moved into the house when Nthabiseng was four and Xolani eight. He lived with their mother and Nthabiseng’s father, Graham, for some time. On Uncle Zweli’s arrival, Xolani believed he was seeing a ghost that had come to grant him his wishes. It was on an afternoon when he and his little sister had found some wood that the builders at the house had left out over the weekend. They had always wanted a treehouse, and their parents kept promising to build them one but never did. Ausi Linda had chased them outside to go play, while she cleaned the house. Their parents had left early and when the children realised that the building materials had been left lonely, they thought to keep them company.
About Born Freeloaders
Born on the cusp of democracy, the crew of young friends in Born Freeloaders navigates a life of drinking, wild parties and other recklessness. The siblings at the centre of the novel, Nthabiseng and Xolani, have been raised in an upper middle-class family with connections to the political elite.
Nthabiseng is lauded by her peers as she whimsically goes through life, unable to form her own identity in a world that expects her to pick a side in the fractured classifications of race.
Xolani, not having known his late father, longs for acceptance from an uncle who sees him and his generation as the bitter fruit borne of a freedom he and countless others fought for. As the story moves across multiple spaces in the nation’s capital over a weekend, Born Freeloaders captures a political and cultural moment in the city’s and South Africa’s history. Interwoven is an analogous tale of the country’s colonisation and the consequences that follow.
And alongside the friends’ uneasy awareness of their privilege is a heightened sense of discomfort at their inability to change the world they were born into.