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Sukoluhle “Sue” Nyathi was born, bred and educated in Bulawayo, and now resides in South Africa. She describes herself as an investment analyst by profession and a writer by passion. She has a career spanning over 15 years in the financial services sector which fate retired her from in 2018 so she could pursue writing full time. This has led her to not only focusing on fiction writing but screen writing too.
Sue is the author of three published novels: The Polygamist (2012) The Gold Diggers (2018) and A Family Affair (2020) She recently edited an anthology titled: When Secrets Become Stories, Women Speak Out(2021) which is a compilation of nonfiction essays with a gender based violence theme.
Sukoluhle is a Ndebele/Zulu name that means “Beautiful Day”. The 23rd of June 1978 is the beautiful day in which I made my debut into this world in the city of Bulawayo. I raised and educated in Bulawayo and was privileged to attend the city’s best private schools. I write as Sue Nyathi as that is the name I affectionately known by.
I have always been an avid writer and my creativity began to show at the age of 8 when I would cut out pictures from magazines and write little excerpts about the men and women in the pictures. My interest in writing was further nurtured throughout high school where I wrote a lot of poetry. This passion was reflected in my participation in poetry competitions for which I won several awards and accolades. However paradoxically, it is fiction writing that has captured my heart.
I was thirteen when I penned my first “novel” titled “Crazy over You” on a Marvo A5 exercise book. My classmates were my first readers and my books were passed around from class to class. I gained notoriety for books in high school. I often did not do my homework because I was under pressure to deliver on the next chapter. My writing was spurred on by my love for reading. My mum often threatened to suspend my library membership because I was more enthralled in reading than studying. As a result I was the top student in history because I enjoyed reading about history.
On completing my A Levels it was my intention to study Journalism but at that time there was no such degree on offer in any Zimbabwean institution of higher learning. So ironically I found myself reading towards a degree in Finance. I would later do a Masters Degree in Finance. It was in my first year of university that I penned my first manuscript novel titled “Family Affairs”. I say serious because it was typed and actually presented as a novel. This spurred on my first attempt to get published. This is the time when I received my first rejection letter.
My career in finance was contrary to creative writing as I spent a lot of time doing analytical work, building financial models and business writing is significantly different from creative writing. However I continued to cultivate my writing efforts as I was a regular contributor to a Sunday Mail titled ‘Steaming Off’. The columnwas something akin to the Carrie Jones column in ‘Sex and the City’. In my 30s I had another column in the Southern Eye which was called “Cross Border Chronicles” which centred more on the diasporan experiences. It was more political with a greater focus on current affairs.
Over the years I did attempt to get “Family Affairs” published but nothing materialized. My debut novel, “The Polygamist” was self published in 2012. This was also after fruitless efforts of trying to get a mainstream publisher. However, this turned out to be the greatest initiative in that it put me out there and jump started my writing career. The novel was written while I was working as an economic development consultant and I wrote mostly on weekends, sacrificing my social life.
I started writing my sophomore novel, “The GoldDiggers” in 2013 but had to put the project on the backburner when I fell pregnant, giving birth to my son in 2014. I only completed the novel in 2015. This is because I had no idea the demands motherhood would have on my time. Especially as a single mother I don’t have the luxury of sharing the responsibility of raising a child. I think this is when I began to understand the true meaning of the word “multi-tasking”. I used to write between 3am and 6am because it’s the only quiet time I would get during the day and my son would be fast asleep. Then I would launch into my full time job for the rest of the day. The Gold Diggers was published in 2018 and received much literary acclaim. It was longlisted for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize 2019 and the Dublin Literary Award 2020. The Gold Diggers has also been optioned for film.
Whilst on maternity leave my intention was to return to work after 3 months but I got retrenched. It was during this period I forayed into scripting writing. I made my TV debut as part of the writing of “Matatiele” a 26 episode drama (2015). This led me to another writing gig on a 26 episode drama called “Bone of my Bones.” (2016). I was also invited to become a storyliner on a popular TV soapie called “Muvhango”. However because of the competing demands with my full time job and work I had to turn it down. I am happy to report that I am now storylining for television as it has been a long term ambition to pursue a career that cultivates rather than stifles my creativity.
I have contributed to two Anthologies’: Black Tax: A Burden or Ubuntu (2019) and Hair: Unpicking and Weaving stories of Identity (2019). As a mother to a 5-year-old, I spend a lot of time reading to him. This encouraged me to try my hand at narrating a children’s novel, Drawing Pains (2019) for the Hollard Kagoya Bana #BetterFutures Child Literacy Campaign. I have just completed my 3rd novel, “A Family Affair” which is a rewrite of “Family Affairs” (2020). I am currently editing an anthology which will be published by Jonathan Ball (2021) and the sequel to the Polygamist (2022).
Book Cover Artwork
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Review: The GoldDiggers by Sue Nyathi
When they board the “gleaming white Toyota Quantum with black-tinted windows pulled into a vacant parking space opposite Max’s Garage” in Bulawayo, the characters in Sue Nyathi’s second novel, The GoldDiggers (unusual spelling intended), know that they are embarking on a precarious trip.
Meet Sue Nyathi!
I became Sue because my 3rd grade teacher couldn’t get her tongue around Sukoluhle, which is a Ndebele name which means “Beautiful Day.” I guess it must have been when I made my debut into the world exactly 34 years ago in a city called Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.
Writing and Publishing with Sue Nyathi
I believe a lot of what you read will influence what you write. I was the generation that grew up on Sweet Valley High. So when I was 13 I wrote my first book titled “Crazy Over You.” It was handwritten on an A3 Marvo exercise book. Had a cover and a blurb.
The Gold Diggers w/Sue Nyathi – Episode 47
In this episode of Girl In Skies Podcast, Nat & Xolie speak to Sue Nyathi – the author of The Gold Diggers. We discuss some of the themes from her book including child trafficking, xenophobia, the migrant experience & more! She also shares about a new book that we can expect later in 2020.
Title of Contribution: Hairology (2019)
Editors: Joanne Hichens and Karina M. Szczurek
Foreword: Palesa Morudu
Publication Date: September 2019
Publisher: Tattoo Press
Title of Contribution: The burden of black tax can only be alleviated by generational wealth
Editors: Joanne Hichens and Karina M. Szczurek
Foreword: Niq Mhlongo
Publication Date: 2019
Publisher: Jonathan Ball