Love Interrupted is set partially in the university town of Grahamstown and partially in rural Limpopo. The stories in this collection have an intimate feel, like conversations eavesdropped on.
We hear the voices of black South African women, many of whom have to endure their husbands’ nyatsis (mistresses), their abuse or both. Some cope by turning to church, others by turning a blind eye and some, like the narrator of “Vicious Cycle”, by seeking to understand the legacy of South Africa’s past and the effects of migrant labour on its men.
Despite serious themes of patriarchy and racism, there is much humour and lightness in the stories, as in “Bridal Shower”, in which the narrator encounters a male stripper for the first time, and in “Toy Boy”, in which a woman befriends the gigolo next door.
This is an engaging collection full or rich characters you won’t forget, from Lebo, whose dream is take over the business of her domestic worker’s mother’s boss, and uses a witchdoctor to punish her detractors to MmaPhuti, who spikes her famous ginger-beer with whiskey.
These stories explore how empowered black women are changing their relationships with men and marriage … a significantly original word-dance, offset by a wry grin.
Awarded the Aidoo-Snyder Book Award 2014 from the African Studies Association in the USA.
“The stories in Reneilwe Malatji’s Love Interrupted peel back the gloss from atop South Africa’s ‘Black Diamonds’ to reveal the sedimentary layers of truth in the lives of these model middle-class families: each story inventively unfurls a different desire, longing, or frustration. They haunt you with their statements about the world of South Africa’s middle class long after you’ve finished reading.
“This book is a treasure. A beautifully written book by a new author, who has powerfully captured the stories of African women, daughters, sons, and lovers in her first collection.”
“Malatji’s characters are funny, moving, and gripping as they navigate the everyday. Love, here, is always messy, always knotted, and always interrupted. The stories vary in range… They explore representations of gender, sexuality and domestic violence grounded in the histories of their experience and the context of their everyday. Engaging with ways of writing race, class and wealth, and subtly tracing the connections between rural and urban, the range of this collection is broad and its themes pertinent. It reminds us of the necessity of keeping these dialogues open, and ensuring multiple voices are heard.”