What Gandhi Didn’t See

August 29, 2018

From 1684 till the present, the Indian diaspora in South Africa has had a long history. But in the country of their origin, they remain synonymous with three points of identity: indenture, apartheid and Mahatma Gandhi.
In this series of essays, Zainab Priya Dala deftly lifts the veil on some of the many other facets of South African Indians, starting with the question: How relevant is Gandhi to them today?
It is a question Dala answers with searing honesty, just as she tackles the questions of the ‘new racism’—between Black Africans and Indians—and the ‘new apartheid’—money; the tussle between the ‘canefields’ where she grew up, and the ‘Casbah’, or the glittering town of Durban; and what the changing patterns in the names the Indian community chooses to adopt reflect.
In writing that is fluid, incisive and sensitive, she explores the new democratic South Africa that took birth long after Gandhi returned to the subcontinent, and the fight against apartheid was fought and won.
In this new ‘Rainbow Nation’, the people of Indian origin are striving to keep their ties to Indian culture whilst building a stronger South African identity. Zainab Priya Dala describes some of the scenarios that result from this dichotomy.

The Architecture of Loss

March 1, 2018

A novel of forgiveness and reconciliation that shines light on the dark underbelly of South Africa’s fight for freedom and democracy.

Estranged from her mother, who sent her away at the age of six, brilliant architect Afroze Bhana has carved out an impressive life for herself in Cape Town. But when she receives word that her mother is desperately ill, she is compelled to return to her hometown in rural Zululand to find answers about her painful childhood.

Afroze finds that her mother, Sylvie—a doctor and fierce activist during the dark days of the anti-apartheid struggle—is a shadow of her formidable self. But Sylvie has still retained her anger toward the daughter that she sent away. Somehow, she cannot draw Afroze close, even facing the looming threat of her own mortality. She remains frozen in the cottage of Afroze’s childhood, cared for by the fiercely protective Halaima, a Malawian refugee. Especially painful for Afroze is the love that Sylvie showers on Bibi, Halaima’s precocious daughter—love she never gave her own daughter.

A moving novel about the complexities of family ties, The Architecture of Loss beautifully explores the ways in which the anti-apartheid struggle—a struggle in which the roles of women have been largely overlooked—irrevocably damaged many of its unsung heroes.

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