For Cape Town, South Africa, the World Cup may have come and gone, but some things never change. Fears of a resurgence in violence surfaced as soon as the Spaniards went home with their winning trophy. In that light, regular contributor Grace Kim revisits Patricia Schonstein Pinnock's novel Skyline, which tackles a persistent issue in South Africa: xenophobia.
Grace Kim immigrated to South Africa with her family at the age of two, and is currently studying at Universiteit Stellenbosch for her MA in English with a focus on marginalized South African narratives. She loves bubbles, likes strawberries, dislikes cigarette smoke, and hates the feeling of nausea. When she’s not going through existential crises about her writing, her drug of choice is poetry and has had some of her work published by local journals and publications. Writing reviews is a new adventure for her.
Xenophobia, AIDS, inner-city violence, immigration, and disillusionment. These are not light subjects, but when you live in Hillbrow, the inner-city section of Johannesburg, they're the stuff of everyday life. Regular contributor Grace Kim examines Phaswane Mpe's post-Apartheid novel, Welcome to Our Hillbrow, to find that the troubles for Hillbrowans may not be so different from those faced by everyone, everywhere.
Thirteen Cents is the coming of age novel of Azure, a street child trying to survive the shadowy streets of Cape Town. Grace Kim reviews the first novel of K. Sello Duiker, a promising South African author whose unconventional and gripping portrayals of seedy urban life once garnered an enthusiastic following. Alas, the young writer took his own life at the age of thirty. In Thirteen Cents, the reader is treated to the magical realism of Cape Town's seedy side, and the magic of a young scribe who, unfortunately, writes no more.
Most literature coming out of South Africa that deals with racial issues focuses on apartheid. Yet the country's problems with race are set deeper in its history. The enslavement of black Africans by European colonizers in South Africa is a story not often told. Enter Yvette Christiansë and her debut novel, Unconfessed. Grace Kim reviews the tumultuous story of a slave, Sila, who is based on an historical character sentenced to prison for the heinous crime of infanticide.
What role does literature play in the healing process? A necessary one argues reviewer Grace Kim. In 1998 Boubacar Boris Diop was one of ten African writers to participate in the Rwanda: écrire par devoir de mémoire project (Rwanda: To Write Against Oblivion). The result, Murambi, The Book of Bones, is a haunting literary tribute that seeks to honor the 800,000 genocide victims and to ensure that we must never forget the inhumanity that beset the African country for 100 bloody days.