Wicomb gained attention in South Africa and internationally with her first work, a collection of short stories, You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town (1987), which takes place during the apartheid era. This work has been compared to V.S. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival. Her second novel, David's Story (2000), takes place in 1991 toward the close of the apartheid era and explores racial identity. It has been studied as a key work dealing with the transitory period in South Africa along with "Disgrace," by J. M. Coetzee and "Bitter Fruit," by Achmat Dangor.
Playing in the Light, her third novel, released in 2006, covers similar terrain conceptually. It is set in mid-1990s Cape Town and centers around the theme of racial passing. Her second collection of short stories, The One That Got Away, is set mainly in Cape Town and Glasgow and explores a range of human relationships: marriage, friendships, family ties and relations with servants.
2013 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. Wicomb's citation is on the website of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. It states, "Zoë Wicomb’s subtle, lively language and beautifully crafted narratives explore the complex entanglements of home, and the continuing challenges of being in the world."
^Donnelly, K. (2014). Metafictions of development: The Enigma of Arrival, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, and the place of the world in world literature. Journal Of Commonwealth Literature, 49(1), 63-80.
^Gready,Paul. 2008. "Culture, Testimony, and the Toolbox of Transitional Justice." Peace Review 20, no. 1: 41-48.