Playing in the Light

A Novel

Praised in the pages of the New Yorker and Oprah’s O Magazine, a wonderfully nuanced exploration of life in post-apartheid South Africa

“An extraordinary writer . . . seductive, brilliant, and precious, her talent glitters.” —Toni Morrison

Set in a beautifully rendered 1990s Cape Town, Zoë Wicomb’s celebrated novel revolves around Marion Campbell, who runs a travel agency but hates traveling, and who, in post-apartheid society, must negotiate the complexities of a knotty relationship with Brenda, her first black employee. As Alison McCulloch noted in the New York Times, “Wicomb deftly explores the ghastly soup of racism in all its unglory—denial, tradition, habit, stupidity, fear—and manages to do so without moralizing or becoming formulaic.”

Caught in the narrow world of private interests and self-advancement, Marion eschews national politics until the Truth and Reconciliation Commission throws up information that brings into question not only her family’s past but her identity and her rightful place in contemporary South African society. “Stylistically nuanced and psychologically astute” (Kirkus), Playing in the Light is as powerful in its depiction of Marion’s personal journey as it is in its depiction of South Africa’s bizarre, brutal history.



“Delectable. . . . Wicomb’s prose is as delightful and satisfying in its culmination as watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Deep and subtle. . . . This tight, dense novel gives complex history a human face.”
“[A] thoughtful, poetic novel.”
The Times (London)
“Post-apartheid South Africa is indeed a new world. . . . With this novel, Wicomb proves a keen guide.”
The New York Times

Books by Zoë Wicomb

A Novel

Zoë Wicomb

The One That Got Away
Short Stories

Zoë Wicomb

Still Life
A Novel

Zoë Wicomb

Goodreads Reviews