The Beekeeper of Aleppo is Christy Lefteri’s second novel, drawing on the stories of displacement and devastation with which she came into contact as a volunteer at a refugee centre in Athens. Herself the daughter of two Turkish refugees, Lefteri has an uncanny familiarity with themes of loss, nostalgia and exile – as well as a sensitivity to the ways in which the deeply personal element of these stories may be lost to sensationalised reports of faceless brutality. Her writing is in many ways a response to those senseless media portrayals and crisis imagery that can cause further damage to a population already vulnerable to extreme violence and prejudice…
Today we are supposed to remember women in action: the beat of more than 20,000 feet marching toward the Union Buildings, the vision of women standing together in solidarity, the rallying cry of Wathint’abafazi, wathint’imbokodo. But how are we to bring this history into focus when our present moment is distorted by screams? How are we to echo the timeless words of protest when they conjure up memories of our bruised and bloodied bodies? It is a brutal irony, of course, that our protest song threatens the abuser with death, uza kufa!, while so many of these murderers walk free. Because we are not rocks, however much we wish we were. When we are beaten, we cry out. We bleed. We die.
Most people are in some part familiar with the story of “America’s shining women” – the dial painters of the First World War that are at once symbolic of a new wave of women’s liberation and horrific treatment in the workplace. My knowledge of the radium girls was largely limited to the legend of poisoned women whose corpses are still radioactive a century later, glowing bones in lead-lined coffins. I was completely, irrevocably unprepared for the harrowing tale of these women’s fight for justice against an institution determined to silence them by any means necessary.
Over the past few years, my friends (and even, once, the poor souls in my Literature Honours class) have been subjected to extensive lectures about the mastery of N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy. I tend to wax lyrical about the magnificence of her world building, her characters and their exquisite development, her enthralling plots… practically every single element of her writing. And despite that, when it comes to writing a review of her latest novel, The City We Became, I’m struggling to find words that carry more weight than “life-changing”.
The Split is an ambitious novel, not unlike a lot of Bolton’s other work. One of the things I enjoy most about her writing is that she never seems content to provide her readers with “just another thriller”. She explores territories and topics atypical to the genre, particularly in her standalone books, leaning into the curious and the unusual rather than shying away from it. Her protagonists are not the seasoned detectives or private investigators one might expect to populate the world of the fictional crime; they are herpetologists, nuns, true-crime authors, and – in this case – glaciologists.
Even if Sarah Lotz wasn’t one of my favourite authors, I would’ve found it difficult to talk myself out of buying her latest novel. I first fell in love with her writing in The Three – a twisty horror novel that mimics the style of “found footage” films like The Blair Witch Project. I impulse-bought The Four and The White Road without looking further than her name on the covers, and wasn’t disappointed with either. But when I found Missing Person just before the pandemic hit, I knew I was in trouble of losing touch with reality for a day or two. This one was going to need all my attention.
In her first collection of poetry and prose, Linathi Makanda embarks on a mission to redefine and occupy a creative space where the personal, the public, and the political intertwine for the purposes of hope and healing. Each vivid fragment of her art is an attestation to her natural talent for storytelling, her uncanny ability for exquisite expression of even the most mundane moments.
Jane Ronson is the epitome of a dutiful, devoted wife and mother. She has, with grit and grace, supported her husband, Colin, through the scandals and setbacks that have dogged his career as the Governor of New York State. After years in her restrictive role as the governor’s wife, Jane achieves her own success asContinue reading “Review: ‘A Walk at Midnight’ by Alex van Tonder”
In this wickedly funny cultural critique, the author of the critically acclaimed memoir and Hulu series Shrill exposes misogyny in the #MeToo era. THIS IS A WITCH HUNT.WE’RE WITCHES,AND WE’RE HUNTING YOU. From the moment powerful men started falling to the #MeToo movement, the lamentations began: this is feminism gone too far, this is injustice, this isContinue reading “Review: ‘The Witches are Coming’ by Lindy West”
Sigh… Another book joins the ranks of “thrillers I absolutely adored until the last few chapters had to go and ruin the fun for everyone”. I was so sure that this was going to be a four- or five-star read that would bring me some semblance of joy in this virus-ridden hellscape. Alas.
In the interests of a fair discussion, I’ll put the ending aside for now. We can approach this book with the same attitude as a major news source outlining the background of a white school shooter – by focusing on (you guessed it!) its potential.