Nakhane Touré, the openly gay South African singer and songwriter, is set to release his first novel, titled To Whom Shall We Go?
Touré, who won Best Alternative Album at last year’s South African Music Awards (Samas), told Mambaonline that he started working on the semi-biographical book around six years ago.
“At first it was a short story. I was at Wits at the time, studying literature. I entered it into a competition – I was competing with honour’s and master’s students – and I got honourable mention, which really encouraged me to continue with it,” he said.
The protagonist is a young Xhosa man from the Eastern Cape. Touré explained that the book addresses notions of masculinity, a subject he’s fascinated by.
“It’s how you laugh. Should you or should you not cross your legs, what about when you’re walking, do you fold your arms? How do you smile, and when it comes to slaughtering the sheep, how do you do that? How is your gait when you’re walking, how about when you dance? And it goes on and on,” he commented.
“It’s easier to perform what society expects of men to perform when it comes to masculinity. We all know what to say, we all know how to hold our beers and to construct that identity.”
Touré revealed that while the book does deal with homosexuality, “it’s not in the way people might expect – there’s no coming out story.”
The novel also includes a rape scene, which he admitted was a challenge to write. “I literally spent about a year trying to find the right language for it,” he said.
“So I came back one night, I still remember it, I had just played my first gig as Nakhane Touré and they had paid me in whisky. And I had two drinks and thought, ‘Fuck it. It’s either now or never’. That is the only piece of writing I have ever written using some substance.”
The multitalented artist confirmed that he won’t be abandoning his musical career anytime soon, with his second album expected to be out in August.
“I do not write as a hobby. It is not a side thing. I feel as much passion for it as I do for music, and even before I released my album, my love for literature had been informing my music.” He added that the “two mediums are informing and will always constantly inform each other.”
To Whom Shall We Go? is published by Jacana Media and will be in stores in September.