Do Not Go Gentle

The Modjaji Gems edition of Futhi Ntshingila’s critically acclaimed novel Do Not Go Gentle.

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July 2022







Do Not Go Gentle

The terrible thing that steals 14-year-old Mvelo’s song leads to startling revelations and unexpected opportunities. Life wasn’t always this hard for 14-year-old Mvelo. There were good times living with her mother, Zola and Sipho, her mother’s lawyer boyfriend. Now her mother is dying of AIDS and what happened to Mvelo is the elephant in the room, despite its growing presence in their small shack. In this Shakespeare-style comedy, the things that seem to be are only a façade and the things that are revealed hand Mvelo a golden opportunity to change her fate. Do Not Go Gentle explores both humour and tragedy in this modern-day fairy tale set in the shacks on the margins of Mkhumbane township, outside Pietermaritzburg.

In her second novel, Futhi Ntshingila once again introduces us to a cast of strong women who have little, but are determined to shape their own destinies.


The Brazilian edition of Do Not Go Gentle was published in Portuguese by Dublinense as Sem Gentileza. The North American edition was published by Catalyst Press in English as We Kiss Them With Rain. The Portuguese edition was also published in in Mozambique by Editora Trinta Zero Nove as Não vai tão docilmente. The French edition was first published by Belleville Editions as Enrage Contre la Mort de la Lumiere. In 2022 it has been published as a French mass-market paperback company 10/18.



Futhi Ntshingila

Futhi Ntshingila grew up in Pietermaritzburg. She is the author of three novels: ShamelessDo Not Go Gentle and They go to you too. Her third novel was published in 2021 by Pan Macmillan and it won the 2022 NIHSS Award for Fiction: Novel. Do Not Go Gentle has been published to great acclaim in Brazil, France, North America, and Mozambique. Her writing focuses on women and marginalised communities. Futhi holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution. She currently lives and works in Pretoria.

Futhi Ntshingila's author page
2019 Skipping Stones Award honoree, Multicultural and International Books
USBBY 2019 Outstanding International Book

In this novel, Ntshingila depicts the intricacies of life in a squatter camp. She shows how the need for love, security, and a sense of belonging cause the lives of the most unlikely people to cross paths.  Do Not Go Gentle is a compelling, intense read which portrays how diverse characters sway between solace and disenchantment as they engage with each other. The storyline leaps beyond the boundaries of race, class, and borders. Reneilwe Malatji author of Love Interrupted

Full of heart and hope despite the emotionally challenging subject matter, this slim novel by South African Ntshingila begins with the story of 14-year-old Mvelo, a girl living a hard life in the slums of Durban, South Africa, with her mother, Zola, who is dying of AIDS. It’s a tough existence, but when Mvelo becomes pregnant after a sexual assault, she has to make a choice that could change everything around her. Set about a decade after the end of apartheid, Ntshingila tells her story by peeling back layers of narrative, jumping to the points of view of several characters, all of whom have a role in revealing Mvelo’s past and changing her future. Each character has their own story, and though the full scope is often hidden from view, each element contributes to the puzzle piecing together Mvelo’s life. This is clearly written, in part, to highlight the issue of gendered violence in South Africa, and Ntshingila succeeds without being heavy-handed. A haunting, all-too-true story with plenty of compelling depth. 2018 Booklist Reviews

An in-depth look at how HIV/AIDS has impacted several generations of women in South Africa and how mothers and daughters deal with abuse, poverty, and disease while navigating parenthood. After her mother’s death from HIV/AIDS, Mvelo, 14, becomes pregnant after she is raped by a visiting minister. Though she lives in extreme poverty, she finds resources and hope in unlikely mentors and benefactors. Readers will learn about the two generations of women who came before Mvelo—her life echoes many of her mother and grandmother’s struggles. These well-crafted characters and their attempts to make better decisions than the previous generation will resonate with teens. VERDICT Those who appreciate realistic fiction will enjoy this novel in which young female characters learn to love themselves, no matter the circumstances. April Sanders, School Library Journal

“Ntshingila spins a contemporary tale that moves across a generation, carving real lives from the broad African diasporic experience. Ntshingila takes what you think you know about Africa’s AIDs epidemic and gives it a face, a body, and a voice.  a difficult but joyful meditation on one girl’s perseverance and ultimate triumph.” Cole Lavalais, author of Summer of the Cicadas

“the tale doesn’t shy away from the reality of AIDS, poverty, or rampant sexual abuse, but instead of making those subjects its sole focus, Ntshingila folds them in with the other realities of life: love, joy, and hope. Ntshingila’s lyrically wrought North American debut is a slim yet satisfying novel sure to trigger a wide range of emotions.” Kirkus starred review

“Those who appreciate realistic fiction will enjoy this novel in which young female characters learn to love themselves, no matter the circumstances” School Library Journal

“Full of heart and hope despite the emotionally challenging subject matter […] A haunting, all-too-true story with plenty of compelling depth.” Booklist Reviews

“It is a story about joy and hope and courage, and what it means to lift up others and be lifted oneself, and how one young girl found her voice in a world seemingly determined to take it away.” Shelf Awareness starred review

“Reading the story of Mvelo, a 14-year-old girl whose life is impacted by many twists of fate, hardship, love, and an incredible community of supporters—and whose tragic journey resolves in the most wonderful of ways—brings back a history of a still-raging epidemic that has seemed to disappear from the media’s attention in this country.” Lucy Kogler, Lit Hub

“Ntshingila takes what could be mere tearjerking manipulation and turns Mvelo’s path into something at once dramatic and prosaic. In other words, a 14-year-old pregnant by rape, orphaned by AIDS, and uncertain of her future sounds and feels like a full human instead of a line in a news story. Highly recommend.” Bethanne Patrick, Lit Hub

“Ntshingila’s prose is as graceful as it is forceful, conveying her deep-seated faith in truth to overcome the world’s ugliness.” Laurie G., bookseller at Politics and Prose (US)

“Futhi Ntshingila weaves a beautiful narrative full of three-dimensional characters. She brings them, as well as the South African culture and landscape, to life vividly and entertains us as well as informs. It is a much-needed look at the AIDS crisis and a continent and country that has been hit so hard. In doing so, however, it still provides us with much hope for the future.” —A&U Magazine

“[G]ives a reader a first-hand experience of several generations of South African women and their harrowing existences” — “A Spotlight on International Children’s Books,” Women’s National Book Association (US)

“A harrowing, non-linear narrative weaves together the lives of several generations of women struggling to survive in a South Africa ravaged by AIDS, apartheid, and sexual abuse. Ntshingila imbues the women with strong will, resolute voices, and pragmatic hope for a better future.” —United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY)

“Futhi Ntshingila reminds us of our common humanity, and that as long as there is human suffering in the world, our work is not yet done.” —Skipping Stones Magazine

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