Hörst du, wie der Himmel singt?
A novel from South Africa
Translated from English by Brennwald
© 2021 Baobab Books
280 pages, hardcover, 15 x 22 cm
CHF 28.00 / € [D] 22,00 / € [A] 22,70
Ages 15 and up
In a small house somewhere in the South African province, a mother raises three children: Zuko, Honey and Ash. Eight-year-old Zuko still doesn't speak, Honey is in poor health and seventeen-year-old Ash has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. In the past, a man came to visit each summer. Their mother always seemed happy, but one day after an argument the man did not show up again.
The mother and Ash don't know what is going on with Zuko, but they take care of the child who seems to experience the world in his own way with a lot of love and patience. When Honey gets weaker and weaker, there is no rescue for her and shortly after the mother dies too. All Ash has left after the funeral is his brother, the name and address of that man in town – and the assumption that this man is their father.
So the two brothers set out together – on foot, because there is not enough money for a bus trip. A rocky road full of deprivation, dangers, but also support and love lies ahead of them. Ash does everything to make his brother feel good. Although he doesn't speak, he still has a lot to say. Once in town, Ash tracks down the man.
Is he their father? And will he take the two boys in?
Kirsten Miller paints a multi-layered picture of South Africa: There is love next to violence, poverty next to wealth. The path between fatalism and responsibility is narrow in this tense society. But in the end this moving and exciting novel is about human dignity, the right to self-determination and dealing with otherness without categorization.
Kirsten Miller (*1970) has written three novels and one non-fiction book so far. She won an award from the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation for the unpublished manuscript of this book; after the publication in South Africa under the title The Hum of the Sun, the novel was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award in 2020. Hörst du, wie der Himmel singt? is the author's first work that is available in German translation.
Kirsten Miller lives in Durban, South Africa. There she runs a center for the early detection of autism.