Heralded in the author's native South Africa as "the hottest novel of the year," The Reactive is a clear-eyed and compassionate depiction of a young HIV+ man grappling with the sudden death of his younger brother, for which he feels unduly responsible.
Lindanathi and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—make their living working low-paying jobs and selling anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift in and out of 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 three 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.
Masande Ntshanga is the author of the acclaimed novels The Reactive, shortlisted for the 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and longlisted for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, and Triangulum, shortlisted for the 2020 Nomo Awards for Best Novel. He is the winner of the Betty Trask Award (2018), winner of the inaugural PEN International New Voices Award in 2013, and a finalist for the Caine Prize in 2015. He was born in East London in 1986 and graduated with a degree in Film and Media and an Honours degree in English Studies from UCT, where he became a creative writing fellow, completing his Masters in Creative Writing under the Mellon Mays Foundation. He received a Fulbright Award, an NRF Freestanding Masters scholarship, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship and a Bundanon Trust Award. His work has appeared in The White Review, Chimurenga, VICE and n + 1. He has also written for Rolling Stone magazine.