Boitumelo Vero Rikhotso

Destined for greatness!

Bitches Brew (Fred Khumalo) October 2, 2014

Filed under: Book reviews — Boitumelo Vero Rikhotso @ 7:27 pm
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2006, Jacana Media, ISBN: 978-1-77009-190-0, Pages: 326

 Joint winner of the European Union Literary Award 2005

This book was a little on the slow start for me. I read it over a couple of months because there were pages that were gripping and others I just skimmed over. There were many paragraphs I could have done without. I did have to finish it though because I promised myself I would finish each book I start and I am determined to read more work from South African authors.

So Bitches Brew is a title of an album by a Jazz musician, Miles Davis. This is the first clue revealing just how much music is one of the focal points in the story. The book is basically a complicated love tale of a pair that meets on a bus and write each other letters over a couple of decades. The book follows each of their lives which you learn of through their letters. It is a story simply told with some vulgar if you can stomach it (not a lot though) and it really transported me to a period, an era long gone. A time of vibrancy and life in the townships of South Africa under the apartheid regime. The stories are true to township culture and revealed what lives black people lived. It is not a political book, but I imagine for the era in the story, it was impossible to tell the story without a mention of the political landscape of the time.

The pair go through a lot together and apart and when their love is finally given a chance, it seems to be too little too late. Zakes and Lettie showcase the many facets to the lifestyles that prevailed at the time and to some extent even today led through music, shebeens, corruption, money, passions and complex love tales.

Overall, it was a good read, I enjoyed the book but I took long to finish it as I wasn’t gripped throughout. It came upon me in waves. I felt the end was quite rushed though. Having said all that, big ups to Mr Khumalo. This was my first book by him and I’ll definitely read more of his work.

 

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