Alistair Mackay '18 to Publish ‘The Child’ in April 2024

Lisa Cochran
April 04, 2024

The Child, a second novel by Writing alumnus Alistair Mackay '18 is forthcoming in April 2024 from Kwela Books, an imprint of the South African publishing house, NB Publishers. 

The narrator of The Child loses his job in New York, spurring a cross-continental move back to Cape Town with his husband, Adrian, in 2018. Despite the dire circumstances greeting the couple upon their return (reverse culture shock and a severe drought), they decide to adopt a child. 

As they undergo adoption proceedings, the narrator––who, in this process, has been forced to reckon with unsavory aspects of his upbringing––starts having doubts as to whether or not he is capable of fatherhood or of love at all. His marriage with Adrian starts to fissure as a result and the narrator becomes increasingly ensnared in the lives of his house cleaner, Sibs, and her toddler, Buhle. Soon, a mounting threat of violence jeopardizes the new beginnings the narrator and his husband have tried to forge. 

“I’m very excited about my second novel being out in the world, and grateful to my publisher,” said Mackay. “It was a difficult story to write. I tried to go to the places that scare me, and to write something intensely personal, vulnerable and raw. There are so many pressures on a second book. The need to prove the first one wasn’t a fluke. The knowledge that you actually have readers, and what they like about your writing. It can kill creativity if you let it, so I did my best to shut out the noise and focus on the writing, and telling the story the best way I can.”

Alistair Mackay was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has previously worked in marketing strategy consulting and spent one year doing political communications. Previously, he wrote a humor, dating, and lifestyle column for the website Mambaonline, as well as a branding column for the website MarkLives. His first novel, It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way (Kwela, 2022), was selected by Brittle Paper as one of the 100 Notable African Books of 2022, and was long-listed for the 2023 Sunday Times Literary Awards for best fiction as well as the 2023 British Science Fiction Association Awards for best novel. His short stories can be read in Brittle Paper, New Contrast, The Kalahari Review, Kabaka Magazine, Penny, Commonwealth Writers’ adda magazine, as well as in the anthologies Queer Africa II, The Other, and Queer Africa: Selected Stories.