The Theory of Flight


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Catalyst Press
Publish Date
5.2 X 8.0 X 0.8 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu is a Windham Campbell Prize winning (2022) writer, filmmaker and academic who holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, as well as master's degrees in African Studies and Film. She has published research on Saartjie Baartman and she wrote, directed and edited the award-winning short film Graffiti. Born in Zimbabwe, she worked as a teacher in Johannesburg before returning to Zimbabwe. The Theory of Flight is her first novel and won the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize in South Africa.


Winner of the 2019 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

"This is not a tale about morality or the vagaries of war, although these are real issues in the novel. It is, rather, a clever reimagination of childhood, family, community and power in a postcolonial Africa, with a generous dose of magic. Genie is a charming character, and witnessing her coming of age is an intimate experience. The theory of flight comprises a complex plot, and there are plenty of personalities who are not easily forgotten. Ndlovu manages to keep the reader reined in throughout this rolling tale, taking on heavy issues such as war, patriarchy, corruption and disease without weighing the spirit down. A triumphant story told in a magical way." Karabo Kgoleng, Litnet

"This is an extraordinary novel, painted in luminous gold, silver and blue with the finest of brushes. A mystery shrouds Genie's life and death which is revealed slowly and deftly with the author's characteristic delicacy of touch and fine taste in metaphor. A rare achievement, exquisite in its language and insight. I am enriched." Jennifer de Klerk, Artlink

"The Theory of Flight may be Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu's first novel, but it's written with the kind of excellence and detail one would expect of an author with decades of experience. feel as if you're part of the very fabric this interconnected story is woven on. The book is a delightful, heartrending, thrilling and heartbreaking read that will leave the reader sad that they couldn't be a part of Genie's short yet impactful life." - Pam Magwaza, Drum Magazine

"Ndlovu is a gifted storyteller, skillfully interweaving the real and the magical, beauty and devastation, historical and personal perspectives, simplicity and complexity. She has a vivid imagination and the tale shimmers with magic...A marvelous and unusual flight of fancy. When Genie dies, and flies away on huge silver wings, she will take a little piece of your heart with her." Kate Sidley, Sunday Times

"[Ndlovu has a] glorious gift of storytelling." Diane de Beer, Business Day.

"The Theory of Flight ... fuses together a range of histories and registers into a distinctive, moving, and provocative whole. [...] A richly-textured meditation on colonial history and civil war, The Theory of Flight is also a magical realist novel of great wonder and a sweeping multi-generational family saga." --2022 Windham Campbell Prize committee
"A triumphant story told in a magical way." -- LitNet (South Africa)
"With the lightest of touches, a cast of unforgettable characters, and moments of surreal beauty, The Theory of Flight sketches decades of history in this unnamed Southern African nation. It does not dwell on what has been lost in its war, but on the daily triumphs of its people, the necessity of art, and the power of its visionaries to take flight." -- Tropics Magazine
The Theory of Flight is a beautifully told narrative, memorable and innovative, and a skillfully structured novel. [...] The fact that this is a work of nearly ten years in the making manifests in its maturity of vision and execution, despite this being Ndlovu's first novel" -- Litnet
"Ndlovu's deeply moving and complex novel is astonishing for the amount of hope it evokes despite the darkness that's so pervasive in Genie's world, where she creates her own reality in order survive. This transcendent and powerful testament to the indomitable human spirit is not to be missed." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"There is an ethereal enchantment that the prose brings to the tumultuous history of this unnamed country." -- The Millions
"When we want to base our shared reality with each other on facts, we also must allow, acknowledge, and cherish the existence of magic. The Theory of Flight is full of magic, a magic willing to be observed by eyes that can see the beauty in knowledge, facts and far beyond. "-- Full Stop Magazine
"When I reached the final pages of Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu's The Theory of Flight, I recognized that I had read something truly rare: an intelligent novel with a big heart." --The Rupture
"This epic novel weaves magical realism and myth in the life story of Imogen "Genie" Zula Nyoni (who is HIV positive) and her South African family history, including wars, poverty, colonialization, love and race." --POZ Magazine