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“Woozy, touching… a novel that delivers an unexpected love letter to Cape Town, painting it as a place of frustrated glory. The Reactive often teems with a beauty that seems to carry on in front of its glue-huffing wasters despite themselves.” —Marian Ryan, Slate

From the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award comes the story of Lindanathi, a young HIV+ man grappling with the death of his brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. He and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—work low-paying jobs and sell anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift through parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town where they observe the grave material disparities of their country.

A mysterious masked man appears seeking to buy their surplus of ARVs, an offer that would present the friends with the opportunity to escape their environs, while at the same time forcing Lindanathi to confront his path, and finally, his past.

With brilliant, shimmering prose, Ntshanga has delivered a redemptive, ambitious, and unforgettable first novel.

TNB Editors The Nervous Breakdown is an online culture magazine and literary community. It was founded in 2006. Our masthead can be found here.

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