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Fred Khumalo’s novels Bitches’ Brew (2007) and Seven Steps to Heaven (2008) offer a vibrant and unapologetic depiction of the South African township and those who call it home. With Bitches’ Brew now included as required reading for English students at the University of Cape Town and his acceptance into the prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Khumalo’s work is just beginning to reach international audiences. For these international readers, Khumalo’s writing provides a moving narrative of the South African characters explored in post-apartheid films like Tsotsi (2006). His novels jerk the voices of the shebeen queen, the gangster, the rapist, and the jazz musician to the fore-beyond the context of the anti-apartheid struggle. Although apartheid influences their lives, the characters’ stories focus on their relationships with lovers, family, co-workers, and friends. Khumalo’s memoir Touch My Blood: The Early Years (2006) and his articles from the Sunday Times suggest that although these are works of fiction, they respond to real stories about the individuals who shaped his youth in the Mpumlanga township. By allowing these voices to be heard, Khumalo addresses issues of identity, sexuality, and creativity in South Africa in a way that forces readers to reevaluate their preconceptions of township life during and after apartheid.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.