A Creative Partnership: The Spiritual and the Sexual in Novels by Zakes Mda
Spirituality and sexuality are key notions in the novels of Zakes Mda, one of South Africa's leading contemporary authors. In Mda's novels the mysterious interrelatedness of the spiritual and the sexual, in which art and creativity are vital elements, functions as a catalyst in individual and collective processes towards change. Suggesting that current literary conventions may be inadequate to a postcolonial criticism that seeks to explore representations of the interrelatedness of the spiritual and the sexual, this article presents the cultural theory of social anthropologist Mary Douglas as a useful and flexible conceptual framework for literary criticism that seeks to address this complexity. Douglas's concepts of intrasocietal thought styles, the spirituality index and symbolic capital illuminate Mda's fictional representation of the sexual and spiritual in the context of themes of social turbulence, solidarity and transformation in his novels Ways of Dying (1995), set in the post-apartheid era, and The Heart of Redness (2000), set in the years leading up to the new millennium.