On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the end of Apartheid and Mandela’s historic election, Bianca Marais returns with IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH, a transcendent follow-up to her 2017 debut, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, and a riveting look at family bonds, the struggle for identity and faith, and the extraordinarily transformative power of love. Publishers Weekly raved, “Marais once again showcases her talent for pulling beauty from the pain of South African history with a strong story and wonderfully imperfect characters.”
In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that would jeopardize her life. Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it's what she can't have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to lick their wounds, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.