October

A Novel

A beautiful new novel from the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize–winning author of “delectable” (The Christian Science Monitor) prose

“An extraordinary writer.” —Toni Morrison

When Zoë Wicomb burst onto the literary scene in 1987 with the now-classic You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, she was instantly recognized as an essential voice of the South African diaspora, hailed by her literary contemporaries—such as Toni Morrison and J.M. Coetzee, among others—and by reviewers alike as “a writer of rare brilliance” (The Scotsman) and a “sophisticated storyteller” (The New York Times). Since then, her carefully textured writing has cemented her reputation among the most distinguished South African writers and earned her one of the inaugural Windham Campbell Prizes for Lifetime Achievement in Fiction Writing.

Now, with a full heart, Wicomb returns to tell the story of Mercia Murray. Abandoned by her partner in Scotland, where she has been living for twenty-five years, Mercia returns to her homeland of South Africa to find her family overwhelmed by their alcoholism and secrets. Poised between her new life in Scotland and her own life in South Africa, she recollects the past with a keen sense of irony as she searches for some idea of a home. October brilliantly plumbs the emotional limbo of a woman who is isolated and deracinated. It is a stark and utterly compelling novel about the contemporary experience of a woman caught between cultures, adrift in middle age with her memories and an uncertain future.

Praise

“The novel provides an insightful look at how ‘memory is bound up with place,’ and at what it means to return home.”
Publishers Weekly
“Wicomb adeptly navigates time, place, and the minds of various characters to illustrate the impact of apartheid on one family.”
The New Yorker
“Better than any other living writer I know, Wicomb has mastered . . . ‘free indirect discourse’: the penchant for slipping into subjectivities, letting characters’ interior thoughts seep into the narrating voice.”
Feminisiting
“Zoë Wicomb’s October is a moving family history and an incisive commentary on what it means to belong.”
Books Live
“A must-read book. . . . Gives us the immigrant experience on a different continent other than ours, and another unique perspective written flawlessly by a writer we should all get caught up on ASAP.”
Flavorwire

News and Reviews

The New Yorker

The New Yorker reviews October in their Briefly Noted section

Flavorwire

Flavorwire picks October as a "Must-Read Book for March"

Feministing

Feministing reviews October

Books by Zoë Wicomb

Playing in the Light
A Novel

Zoë Wicomb

The One That Got Away
Short Stories

Zoë Wicomb