Away from the Dead
Published : Wednesday 24 September 2014
You may also like ...
Together the stories highlight facets of African society and in particular South Africa. Karen Jennings has a touching way of writing about the lives of the underdogs. The distinctions between the different layers in society are beautifully captured.
In the title story Away From the Dead we meet Isaac Witbooi, a farm worker, who has to come to grips with losing everything including the graves of his entire deceased family. In After Spring a couple takes a holiday but we're drawn into the issue of identity: Even if they hadn't heard us speaking English earlier, they would have known our foreignness simply by sight. It is visible to them in our facial features, the way we wear our clothes, our hair. The fact that we are third and fifth generation South Africans respectively matters little to them. Making Challah is a touching picture of an ageing woman, and it uses the baking of challah as a wonderful metaphor of passing time. Ridwaan and Chadley are On the Train, a seemingly routine journey but somehow a dog has been acquired and it's been Chadley's first time to kill. Find out how it felt to be Andries Tatane who, on 13 April 2012, died during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg, South Africa. In the Narrative of Emily Louw, a true story, a young woman regrets not having given something to old Emily after listening to her sad story: At the second, a policeman had looked at the blanketed child, her worn face and bleeding feet and he had smirked, as though to indicate that her husband had left by choice and couldn't be blamed for his departure. Next is a thoughtful reflection on being called Muzungu when a white South African woman visits Uganda. From Dark is a rallying call to remember that illegal mining causes the deaths of hundreds every year. Zama-zamas (Zulu for 'chancers') live underground for months at a time, dying in police raids, fires, cave-ins and poor conditions. A young couple's outing goes horribly wrong in At the Seaside. Grandmother's great big wicker picnic basket, which was supposed to be a treat, takes the blame. An 'informal settlement' of zinc shacks on the flatlands sets the scene in Allotment. Warda Meintjes and her husband struggle to survive. A great stadium for the World Cup is being built but Warda's unborn child stops moving. The homeless were being rounded up by police, placed in trucks, driven out into the countryside and dumped. 'Thank God we're spared that,' one woman said. 'Don't fool yourself,' another replied. 'That is us. It has already happened to us.' In The Shark Mia's very sense of being gets overtaken by events. A dark story leading on to Development, darker still, but thought-provoking, and about what it is to be human. The Wall is almost surreal and deals with growing old on the street. Alletjie lives with her husband Jan Bakker and Solly, her disabled brother, next to an old mine built by Cornish miners in the 1880s. Their circumstances are a cut above those of Warda and her husband, yet, 'living on the old goats and chickens and a disability grant was never enough', and Alletjie who 'does everything' thinks it isn't fair, 'the mine owned her this future for herself'. Resurrecting again exerts a certain surreal appeal. A father takes to his bed because of a crushed pigeon or is it a metaphor for a crushed soul in the office? His son is told to pray but is there going to be a resurrection?