Thembi Ngubane is one of the most compelling characters we’ve encountered in a nonfiction narrative. She is an exceptionally likable narrator, both open in her feelings and poised in her dignity. She is heroic in her approach to her disease and her relationships with those around her. Joe Richman, executive producer of Radio Diaries, gave Thembi a tape recorder in 2005, and for a year she kept an audio journal. All that tape was edited into a sequence of self-reflection and scenes. The piece is a model for effective sequencing in any work of narrative, for turning a mass of material into coherent, emotionally engaging and purposeful work.

Listen to “Thembi’s AIDS Diary,” by Thembi Ngubane

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