Still Life

A Novel

A stunningly original new novel exploring race, truth in authorship, and the legacy of past exploitation, from the Windham-Campbell lifetime achievement award winner

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

A New York Times Top Historical Fiction Pick of 2020

When Zoë Wicomb burst onto the literary scene in 1987 with You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, she was hailed by her literary contemporaries and reviewers alike. Since then, her carefully textured writing has cemented her reputation as being among the most distinguished writers working today and earned her one of the inaugural Windham Campbell Prizes for Lifetime Achievement in Fiction Writing.

Wicomb’s majestic new novel Still Life juggles with our perception of time and reality as Wicomb tells the story of an author struggling to write a biography of long-forgotten Scottish poet Thomas Pringle, whose only legacy is in South Africa where he is dubbed the “Father of South African Poetry.” In her efforts to resurrect Pringle, the writer summons the specter of Mary Prince, the West Indian slave whose History Pringle had once published, along with Hinza, his adopted black South African son.

At their side is Sir Nicholas Green, a seasoned time traveler (and a character from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando). Their adventures, as they travel across space and time to unlock the mysteries of Pringle’s life, offer a poignant exploration of colonial history and racial oppression.



“Timely and thought-provoking, Still Life is a novel about the complexities of human compassion and the impermanence of legacies.”
Foreword Reviews
“An intriguingly metatextual novel that addresses some of the silences and omissions of South African history, and the broader relationship of historiography, reputation, writing and memory to power.”
—Simon Lewis, The Post and Courier
“A virtuosic metafictional biography. . . . Wicomb’s experiment succeeds by exploring the question of who gets to write history.”
Publishers Weekly

News and Reviews

The Post and Courier

Read a review of Zoë Wicomb’s new novel Still Life in the Post and Courier.

New York Times

The New York Times selected Still Life as one of the best works of historical fiction published in 2020.

Books by Zoë Wicomb

The One That Got Away
Short Stories

Zoë Wicomb

A Novel

Zoë Wicomb

Playing in the Light
A Novel

Zoë Wicomb

Goodreads Reviews