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From the acclaimed and award-winning author of What Will People Say?, Rehana Rossouw takes us into a world seemingly filled with promise yet bedevilled by shadows from the past. In this astonishing tour de force Rossouw illuminates the tensions inherent in these new times.
Ali Adams is a political reporter in Parliament. As Nelson Mandela begins his second year as president, she discovers that his party is veering off the path to freedom and drafting a new economic policy that makes no provision for the poor. She follows the scent of corruption wafting into the new democracy’s politics and uncovers a major scandal. She compiles stories that should be heard when the Truth Commission gets underway, reliving the recent brutal past. Her friend Lizo works in the Presidency, controls access to Madiba’s ear. Another friend, Munier, is beating at the gates of Parliament, demanding attention for the plague stalking the land.
Aaliyah Adams lives with her devout Muslim family in Bo-Kaap. Her mother is buried in religion after losing her husband. Her best friend is getting married, piling up the pressure to get settled and pregnant. There is little tolerance for alternative lifestyles in the close-knit community. The Rugby World Cup starts and tourists pour up the slopes above the city, discovering a hidden gem their dollars can afford.
Ali/Aaliya is trapped with her family and friends in a tangle of razor-wire politics and culture, can she break free?
Told with Rehana’s trademark verve and exquisite attention to language you will weep with Aaliya, triumph with Ali, and fall in love with the assemblage that makes up this ravishing new novel.
Rehana Rossouw’s unique voice gives life and drama to this family saga. It is the story of the Fourie family, residents of Hanover Park in the Cape Flats during the height of the struggle era. The main characters include Magda, the churchgoing mother, who doesn’t see what’s going on in front of her; Neville, the concerned and loving but not always effectual father; Suzette, the oldest daughter, who is bound and determined to get away and make a better life for herself via a career in modelling; Nicky, the smart and sensitive middle child, who proves herself capable of making unselfish choices; and Anthony, the naive and doomed son, who gets caught up with a gang and meets a sad end. In What Will People Say the setting is everything, and the author doesn’t stint on the details of the world her characters inhabit. Readers who have never set foot in Hanover Park will feel they are there, and those who know the place will nod in recognition of the sensory details the author loads into her writing. Nor does the author shy away from the difficult issues faced by those living in this marginalised and disadvantaged community, which came into being as a result of the forced removals from Cape Town. How these issues affect the members of a particular family and their relationships with one another are the focus of the author’s close-up lens. Generously spiced with Cape Flats slang; lots of vivid and gritty description that give an authentic feel to the story; plenty of plot – the writer draws us in and makes us curious about what will happen next; and very human characters we come to care about.
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