Masande Ntshanga was born in 1986 in the South African harbor city of East London. He studied film, media, English, and creative writing at the University of Cape Town. He was awarded the South African NRF Freestanding Masters Scholarship and was also the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Award.
He began writing in his youth and published his first story when he was eighteen years old. His recognition grew with his award-winning short story »Space« (2013), which was included in the compendium »Twenty in 20: The Best Short Stories of South Africa’s 20 Years of Democracy« (2014), among others. His short prose texts have also appeared in magazines such as »itch«, »Laugh It Off«, »Imago«, »Chimurenga«, »The White Review«, »Vice«, »n+1« and »Rolling Stone«. His richly atmospheric début novel »The Reactive« (2014) uses episodic immediacy to capture the HIV-infected narrator Lindanathi’s state of uncertainty. Haunted by the conviction that he is at fault for his brother’s death, he drifts through early-2000s Cape Town with his friends under the influence of drugs. From a place of twisted altruism and a need for survival, he deals anti-retroviral medications, which were rarely distributed in South Africa at the time. Under the surface of the subjectively meandering story lies a deep confrontation with the circumstances in South Africa during this period of upheaval, which was characterized by the denial of the epidemic and scandalous inequality that underscores the effects of apartheid. Ntshanga’s second novel »Triangulum« is scheduled for release in 2019. In a contemporary, speculative hybrid of a coming-of-age novel, a portrait of society, and a fantasy set in the year 2040, a retired professor and science fiction author analyzes the recordings sent by a young woman to the South African space agency that contain an ominous prophecy that the world will end in ten years. This story-within-a-story ranging from the collapse of the apartheid homeland system to the recent economic deterioration to the ecological catastrophes of the near future is a collage made out of documents from the mysterious sender, whose extraterrestrial hypotheses instigate adventurous excursions underpinned by the mysterious disappearance of three girls.
Ntshanga was awarded the newly created PEN International/New Voices Award in 2013. In 2015, he was nominated for the Caine Prize, the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize. In 2018, he is one of the top candidates selected for the Betty Trask Prize from the Society of Authors as well as the Saboteur Award in the category of best novella. Ntshanga lives in Johannesburg.