Niq Mhlongo was born in 1973 in Soweto. His first novel, Dog Eat Dog, was published by Kwela in 2004 and was translated into Spanish under the title Perro Come Perro in 2006. This Spanish edition was awarded the Mar des Lettras prize. Besides writing novels and short stories, Niq has written a screenplay for the animated children’s TV series Magic Cellar and scripts for a comic magazine called Mshana, the first issue of which appeared in February 2007. Way Back Home, his third novel, was published in 2013. He has just published his first short story collection, Affluenza.
Mhlongo is the seventh of nine children, and raised in Soweto. His father, who died when Mhlongo was a teenager, worked as a post-office sweeper. Mhlongo was sent to Limpopo Province, the province his mother came from, to finish high school. Initially failing his matriculation exam in October 1990, Mhlongo completed his matric at Malenga High School in 1991. He studied African literature and political studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, gaining a BA in 1996. In 1997 he enrolled to study law there, transferring to the University of Cape Town the following year. In 2000 he discontinued university study to write his first novel, Dog Eat Dog.
He has been called, “one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s post-apartheid literary scene”.
Mhlongo has presented his work at key African cultural venues, including the Caine Prize Workshop and the Zanzibar International Film Festival, and was a 2008 International Writing Program fellow at the University of Iowa. His work has been translated into Spanish and Italian.
Mhlongo’s writing has a post-apartheid backdrop. He is influenced by his hometown of Soweto; Mhlongo pens his novels in Soweto, about Soweto and in Soweto dialect. His book Way Back Home was launched in Soweto. Xenophobia is another theme explored in Mhlongo’s work.
- Dog Eat Dog, Kwela Books, 2004
- After Tears, Kwela Books, 2007
- Way Back Home, Kwela Books, 2013
- Affluenza, Kwela Books, 2016