Monday, March 03, 2008

The Madams by Zukisa Wanner

Oh and I finished my book last night. While we were enjoying our Midlands Weekend, I read The Madams by Zukisa Wanner.

Thandi loves her life. She loves her cute son Hintsa, her witty husband Mandla, her comfortably challenging work with the tourism board, and her best friends Nosizwe and Lauren. But she has to admit – it's tough being Superwoman in South Africa today. Try being the perfect traditional wife and African mother at home, the perfect promotable black woman at work, and the perfect foil for her 'Benetton' friends (one black and Xhosa, one white and English)! Thandi admits defeat and decides she needs that great South African bourgeois accessory: a maid. And since she doesn't have the heart to boss about a 'sister' in her own home, she decides it must be a white maid. Marita joining the household seems to disrupt the comfortable space Thandi, Siz and Lauren have settled into. The secrets of the three women's lives are dramatically exposed and they are forced to confront their assumptions about relationships, history and each other.

I freely admit that I am generally a sucker for South African fiction. I don't really know why ... it's not generally any better. Actually, to be honest it's usually worse but, that's purely because I read South African fiction from genres I wouldn't ordinarily consider.

So, based on the above description, you'd think we were looking at a fairly funny girly sort of novel, set in sunny SA with a local topic of interest. I for one was interested in hearing from "the other side" ... I mean how do Black women feel hiring a "sister" to clean up after themselves?

Sadly although the book started out based on this simple premise, it didn't really fulfill my requirements. It wasn't particularly amusing and every adult male in the book turns out to be a complete dog. Someone poking fun at ye old standard South African Male? Not quite. It's more sad than anything else really. *Spoiler Alert* The White Husband is a Wife-Beater, the two Black Husbands (
one of them an ex-jailbird), cheat on their wives ... But the women rally thru. Siz taking her man dutifully back and Lauren finding herself an Indian Yogi instead, while her husband turned to Islam (yup, there was no BEE stone unturned!). Far-fetched, I think so.

Anyway, it's a pretty quick read, so if after that you're still interested, by all means ...


Tales of the City said...

Read "Disgrace" by cotzee... its searing, it great... but is it a harbinger of things to come?
I also liked Doris Lessing.. so old school but cool.

phillygirl said...

@toc - haven't read either of those so can't comment.

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