Suffice it to say that I picked up this book and did everything that I could to squeeze in chapters around my life so that I could understand what was happening, and when I got to the end, I was dumbstruck by the scope of what Masande Ntshanga achieves in this wonder of speculative fiction. It is both an enjoyable read, and also has much to say about oppression, the onward march of technology and corporations, and the fate of the earth in the hands of human civilization. There is a mysterious manuscript within a book, a coming-of-age narrative, a span of 50 years that covers both South African history and near future, and a curious “machine” that keeps appearing to the narrator of the manuscript. There is a quest to find a missing mother amidst other suspicious circumstances, a book about UFOs, and underground groups of hackers and spies fighting an unseen war. There is also friendship, love, and sacrifice. With masterfully deployed elements of mystery and science fiction and backdropped by post-Apartheid South Africa, this novel is in a genre all its own. TRIANGULUM is an astonishing puzzle of a book, one that I immediately wanted to reread to marvel once more at all of the interlocking pieces.— From Kelsey's Picks
* 2020 Nomo Awards Shortlist for Best Novel
* A Best Book of 2019 --LitReactor, Entropy
Triangulum is an ambitious, often philosophical and genre-bending novel that covers a period of over 40 years in South Africa's recent past and near future--starting from the collapse of the apartheid homeland system in the early 1990s, to the economic corrosion of the 2010s, and on to the looming, large-scale ecological disasters of the 2040s.
In 2040, the South African National Space Agency receives a mysterious package containing a memoir and a set of digital recordings from an unnamed woman who claims the world will end in ten years. Assigned to the case, Dr. Naomi Buthelezi, a retired professor and science-fiction writer, is hired to investigate the veracity of the materials, and whether or not the woman's claim to have heard from a "force more powerful than humankind" is genuine.
Thus begins TRIANGULUM, a found manuscript composed of the mysterious woman's memoir and her recordings. Haunted by visions of a mysterious machine, the narrator is a seemingly adrift 17-year-old girl, whose sick father never recovered from the shock of losing his wife. She struggles to navigate school, sexual experimentation, and friendship across racial barriers in post-apartheid South Africa.
When three girls go missing from their town, on her mother's birthday, the narrator is convinced that it has something to do with the machine and how her mother also went missing in the '90s. Along with her friends, Litha and Part, she discovers a puzzling book on UFOs at the library, the references and similarities in which lead the friends to believe that the text holds clues to the narrators's mother's abduction. Drawing upon suggestions in the text, she and her friends set out on an epic journey that takes them from their small town to an underground lab, a criminal network, and finally, a mysterious, dense forest, in search of clues as to what happened to the narrator's mother.
With extraordinary aplomb and breathtaking prose, Ntshanga has crafted an inventive and marvelous artistic accomplishment.
The violent and fascinating history of South Africa--from colonialism to apartheid, and the recent struggles to come to terms with this past--serves as a rich backdrop for this unsettling, enrapturing novel that brings to mind Roberto Bolano's 2666... a novel of incredible imagination that gradually unfurls into a wonderfully realized meditation on growing up, heritage, and the effects of technological progress on the world around us.
--Alexander Moran, Booklist