A Century of South African Short Stories
Edited by Martin Trump and Jean Marquard

South Africa has a strong tradition of short story writing. This anthology offers a considerable range of the kinds of stories written in the last century.

A number of the stories relate directly or indirectly to apartheid experiences. James Matthews's "The Park" focuses on the feelings of a Colored boy who is not allowed to play on the swings and slides in a "whites only" park. "The Toilet" by Gcina Mhlope shows how a young African woman, hemmed in by restrictions, is able to use a small, disused public toilet as a refuge in which she can gain her composure and develop her creativity. Ahmed Essop's "The Hajji" is about the tragic anger of a Muslim against his brother who has disowned him and managed to escape on to the other side of the great apartheid divide.

But there are other themes in South African life and fiction. Pauline Smith's story, "Desolation", written in the 1920s, is of an aged destitute "poor white" woman who makes a terrible journey in an attempt to provide for her orphaned grandson. Bessie Head's "Life"—pronounced "Leefay"—describes a marriage of two spirited independent people which ends in a murder. "Journal of a Wall" by Ivan Vladislavic is a psychodrama in which a man observes his neighbors obsessively.

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