This rich and absorbing biography of Can Themba, iconic Drum-era journalist and writer, is the definitive history of a larger-than-life man who died too young. Siphiwo Mahala's intensive and often fresh research features unprecedented archival access and interviews with Themba's surviving colleagues and family. Mahala's biography takes a critical historical approach to Themba's life and writing, giving a picture of the whole man, from his early beginnings in Marabastad to his sombre end in exile in Swaziland. The better-known elements of his life - his political views, passion for teaching and mentoring, family life and his drinking - are woven together with an examination of his literary influences and the impact of his own writing (especially his famous short story 'The Suit') on modern African writers in turn. Mahala, a master storyteller, deftly follows the threads of Themba's dynamic life, showcasing his intellectual acumen, scholarly aptitude and wit, along with his flaws, contradictions and heartbreaks, against a backdrop of the sparkle and pathos of Sophiatown of the 1950s. Can Themba's successes and failures as well as his triumphs and tribulations reverberate on the pages of this long-awaited biography. The result is an authoritative and entertaining account of an often misunderstood figure in South Africa's literary canon.