Upon receiving my copy of Jen Thorpe’s latest offering, The Fall. One question which truly raced through my mind was, is it the fall of patriarchy and misogyny and the rise of gender equality?
That was purely because of the great work which Jen does in the project of dismantling patriarchy in our society and putting the emancipation of women at the heart of the country’s development.
However, as I perused through the pages of this book, I was struck by Jen’s amazing pen that left me with only respect for her as a storyteller. Jen is an artful writer and she demonstrated her prowess as a storyteller with this gem.
The Fall is a work of fiction, told on the background of the 2015 student-led protest, #FeesMustFall. The story is centred around Thuli’s ‘glitch’(her ability to see into the future), where she saw a danger that will befall Hector, the main leader of the movement in seven days.
Now, I need to admit that while there have been a lot of fictitious books that have since been written about the historic #FeesMustFall, which truly shaped the South African socio-political landscape post-apartheid, however, it is the fresh manner in which Jen successfully managed to infuse all the themes which emerged from the movement which makes this book an entertaining, compelling and intriguing read.
Fees reduction, politics, state violence, betrayal, intersectional struggles, political power struggles, gender equality, and sexual violence are just some of the themes which form part of the storytelling. I think where I see Jen’s desire to challenge the political patriarchy, was her introduction of a female President character in the form of Noné.
There have been genuine calls from progressive South Africans for the need to have the first female President, because for centuries and now 26 years into democracy, male bodies continue to be offered power and privilege by the political elite than women.
However, Jen shows her feminism interest through Noné that the need for a female President should not be just for a change of gender at the helm, but to have someone who has true desires to promote gender equality, dismantle structures that produce patriarchal and misogynistic tendencies and build an inclusive society which does not dehumanise others.
Despite the many cast of characters, which I had difficulties in remembering throughout, this book is a page-turner, entertaining, and a masterpiece. I believe a sequel will most definitely be welcomed.