Nadia Davids


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nadia Davids

Writer, Theatre-Maker, Scholar


Nadia’s plays, At Her Feet, Cissie and What Remains have garnered various theatre awards and nominations (seven Fleur de Cap Theatre Awards, and Naledi and Noma nominations) and have been staged internationally (in Africa, Europe, The United States) at venues such as Market Theatre, Baxter Theatre, Southbank Centre, Fracsati Theatre and at festivals such as the Grahamstown National Arts Festival (2003, 2008, 2017), Afrovibes (2004, 2017) and the London Book Fair. Nadia was a part of the New York Women's Project Playwright’s Lab (2008-2010) and has held writing residencies at the Ledig House (2012, 2015) and at Hedgebrook (2016). Her screenplay adaptation of her short story, The Visit won best South African Film Project at the 2012 Durban International Film Festival.

Her debut novel An Imperfect Blessing published by Umuzi, Random House was shortlisted for both the 2014 UJ Prize and the Pan-African Etisalat Prize for Literature and long-listed for the 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Award. It was named one of TIA’s best African novels, one of three of Ozy’s ‘Favourite New South African Books’ and Radio702’s 2014 ‘Book of the Year’.

In June 2017 Nadia was elected President of PEN South Africa


Nadia holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and, as an A.W. Mellon Fellow, has been a visiting scholar/artist at the University of California Berkeley and at New York University. She lectured at Queen Mary University of London between 2009-2016 and is a 2013 recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize. In January 2018 she took up an Associate Professorship in the English Department at the University of Cape Town. Her academic work has appeared in The Drama Review, Safundi, The South African Theater Journal and Wasafiri and she has presented her research at Cambridge University, SOAS, U.C.Berkeley, New York University, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and Edinburgh University

Other work

Nadia has presented and written work for the BBC, CNN, the Mail and Guardian, O Magazine, Marie Claire and The Brooklyn Rail, the Johannesburg Review of Books, she’s appeared at the Open Book Festival, the Abantu Festival, Franshoek Literary Festival, various Southbank Festivals and The London Book Fair.










What remains

On a still, cool day in the east of a city by the sea, three sounds only: a bulldozer’s engine, a forgotten song, a canon that tells the time. Behind the bulldozer, a sign: Luxury Mall Coming Soon. As the vehicle moves in to clear ground, it strikes at something unexpected…

 What Remains is a captivating fusion of text, dance and movement to tell a story about an unexpected uncovering of a slave burial ground in Cape Town, the archaeological dig that follows and a city haunted by the memory of slavery. When the bones emerge from the ground everyone in the city – slave decedents, archaeologists, citizens, property developers - are forced to reckon with a history sometimes remembered, sometimes forgotten.

Loosely based on the events at Prestwich Place, What Remains, is a journey through memory and magic, of the uncanny and the known, between waking and dreaming, and of paintings and protests. Four figures -The Archaeologist, The Healer, The Dancer and The Student - move between bones and books, archives and madness, as they try to reconcile the past with the now.

What Remains, directed by Jay Pather, debuted at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2017 to sold out audiences and five star reviews. It went on to an equally warm reception in Cape Town and appeared at the Afrovibes Festival in the Netherlands. What Remains was nominated for 7 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards and won 5 of them: Best New South African Script, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Lighting Designer and Best Ensemble.

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A beautiful masterpiece
— Cape Times, 2017
5 stars
— Die Burger, 2017
Nadia Davids’ new work ‘What Remains’ is an impressive, if disquieting and heart -breaking piece
— Weekend Special
Causing a buzz in the first days of the festival was What Remains, the latest work by prodigiously talented local playwright and author Nadia Davids...
— Daily Maverick, 2017
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In 2002, At Her Feet, written/directed by Nadia Davids and performed by Quanita Adams, exploded onto the South African theatre scene. This breakthrough play was described as ‘brilliant’, ‘triumphant’, ‘unforgettable’ ‘timely’, ‘a production that will touch you, shift you and never really leave you’. From its first staging at Cape Town, it travelled throughout South Africa, was staged in New York, London and Holland and went on to win two Fleur du Caps (Best Acress, Best New Director) and was nominated for a Noma Award for Best Published Book in Africa.

Written in 2002, At Her Feet evokes the experiences of four Muslim women in Cape Town whose lives are touched by 9/11 and by the honour killing of a Jordanian girl. These women – a secular student, a tough-talking auntie, a Che-worshipping slam poetess, a recently married religious travel agent- narrate their own lives, offering vivid, affecting, bitingly funny, deeply moving stories that speak to race, love, faith and belonging.

Through monologue, song, and poetry these women offer the audience an intimate glimpse of their world. 

 AT HER FEET was most recently performed in 2017 at the Artscape Theater to commemorate the play’s 15 year anniversary and to mark South Africa’s Women’s Day. The playtext is studied at a wide range of South African, British and American universities, is understood as one of the most important theatrical works to emerge around Islamophobia, Muslim women and Islamic Feminism post 9/11 and is considered one of South Africa's most significant post-apartheid theater works.

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At Her Feet is brilliantly written and performed and deserves widespread recognition.”
— -Annual Review of Islam in South Africa, 2002
Davids and Adams are a triumphant combination.
— -Cape Times, 2003
…wonderful…a festival highlight.
— -Cue Newspaper, Grahamstown, 2003
A hard-hitting play suffused with tenderness, wisdom and humour.
— -Litnet, 2003
A vivid inner circle view into a sisterhood of contemporary Cape Town women.
— - O Magazine, 2004
…a brilliant theatrical achievement.
— -Mail and Guardian, 2004
...a wonderful play that couldn’t be more timely and which cries out to be performed worldwide.
— -Sunday Independent, 2005







An imperfect blessing  (Novel)

Nadia Davids’ first novel moves seamlessly across generations and communities, through the suburbs to the city-centre, from the lush gardens of elite private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions and political assassinations, via legendary clubs to first loves. An Imperfect Blessing places one family’s story at the heart of a country’s rebirth and asks big questions about faith, race, belonging and freedom. An Imperfect Blessing is a vibrant, funny and moving debut.

One of the things the novel does best is to trace the impact of historical events on the lives of ordinary people. In An Imperfect Blessing, a novel that is sharp in its insights yet warm in feeling, Nadia Davids gives us the tumultuous years between the end of white rule in South Africa and the Mandela presidency as seen through the eyes of a family from a Muslim community that is itself coming under pressure to adapt and evolve.
— JM Coetzee
A poignant evocation of Cape Town in the last of the apartheid years. With subtlety, compassion, and a brilliant blending of the personal and political, Davids’s debut novel traces the lives of a family shaken by the complexities of the struggle.”-
— Zoe Wicomb
Wry, moving, and rich in historical detail, An Imperfect Blessing is a bright, prismatic portrait of a community in transition and a whole country, hungry for change, recasting itself
— Patrick Flanery
Nadia Davids reads from her debut novel, 'An Imperfect Blessing'.






Please contact Nadia via Charles Buchan at The Wylie Agency
17 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3JA

Contact : Nadia Davids at