Enthralling, profound, entertaining, and relevant- these are some of the superlatives that I can use to describe Fred Khumalo’s latest and riveting book titled, A Coat of Many Colours.
This book just affirms Fred as one of the finest storytellers and a literary giant in our country- I am still struck by his gift as a storyteller, and his ever-amazing pen that has the ability to just sucks you in from the first sentence.
Now, in A Coat of Many Colours, Fred provides the readers with eclectic short stories which mirror the challenges of contemporary South Africa; anti-black racism in many white schools, xenophobic attitudes in our many townships, the violence meted out on women and children, crime committed by the poor, corruption committed by our liberators, patriarchy and misogynistic culture, and rape. He masterfully tackles these issues in a manner that forces us, the readers, to see ourselves in the characters and easily relate to the stories.
I find myself relating to the story about racism experienced by Fikile at a white school. It was one story that evoked mixed emotions in me because it reminded me of my daily realities as a person who is always in predominantly white spaces- where I am always reminded by structures that I do not belong there.
I like how Fred managed to successfully bring all these pertinent and challenging issues together to the fore – inviting everyone to reflect on their part in the failures of our so-called rainbow nation project.
A Coat of Many Colours is a book that will help us to confront our complicity on the level of racism, corruption, violence directed to women and girls, and our xenophobic/Afrophobic acts that currently ravage South Africa.
I think the only bummer for me was the repetition of the two stories which Fred had previously published in other publications. I believe if you are like me, and was lucky to have read the stories before, this might make feel like you are repeating yourself.
Besides that, A Coat of Many Colours is brilliant work, with chapters that will make readers ask more after they have long finished reading. This is yet another book that will sure win Fred more accolades for his prowess as a storyteller and a significant voice in contemporary South African literature.