229pp., paperback, Cape Town, 2022
Also published in the USA in 2022.
Beth takes up a diplomatic posting in Shanghai, where she befriends her neighbour Zhao - until he vanishes. When she learns he has been trying to uncover the truth behind his mother's disappearance during Communist China's Great Leap Forward, she is forced to face her involvement in South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle and the death of her revolutionary friend Kay.
"C.A. Davids is one of South Africa’s most innovative writers. In How to be a Revolutionary she has written a global novel which explores the hopes and disappointments of twentieth-century revolutions in a series of vivid portraits, one of which is a sensitively realised vision of Langston Hughes. How to be a Revolutionary is a novel that will interest anybody who has found out in his or her personal life how difficult - yet how necessary - it is to try to change the world.” Imraan Coovadia, author of A Spy in Time
“How to be a Revolutionary draws a line of startling connection from Harlem to Shanghai to Cape Town, traveling through the twentieth century and right up to the present. Part literary thriller for the age of rampant state surveillance, part excavation of the kinds of memories that shame nations, it tells stories of ordinary people united by a determination to improve the lot of the many, often at great personal risk to themselves. Through a virtuosic summoning of voices, each clear in its register and compelling in its force, Davids has written a book of and for the moment through which we are living. It is a brave and necessary work, illuminating the complex energies that tie together North and South, East and West, in surprising and often chilling ways. This is a novel of astonishing empathetic powers.” Patrick Flanery, author of I Am No One
C.A. Davids's debut novel, The Blacks of Cape Town, was published in 2013. She lives in Cape Town.