The book follows the lives of unhappily married couple Ayanda and Themba Hlatshwayo. Their tumultuous marriage gradually goes to the dogs as the book progresses. The cause of their woes is that the husband is a closeted gay man, or a cisgender male who prefers men. The wife, on the other hand, had agreed to enter into a marriage with a man that she barely knew, despite her mom’s protestations.
Set in Alexandra township, Randburg and Kwa Mashu. The Jukskei River features prominently. Duker paints a vivid picture of post democratic South Africa.
The mothers in the book yield great influence, especially Differentia, Bongani’s and Themba’s Mom. Through the mom’s, Duker demonstrates how mothers can make or break their children.
Duker writes queerness with clarity, empathy and understanding. The man on man sex scenes are romantic, sensual and not overdone. He does not flippantly write gayness as a new or youngster phenomenon. Some of his gay characters like Bra Zakes, went two generations back.
I could not help drawing parallels between Siya Khumalo’ s “You Got To Be Gay To Know God ” wherein the authors assert that, if God is love, loves unconditionally, and His love never fails or falters, the same love extends to the LGBTQIA group. They too are his children. Unless, if He is ” The God Who Made Mistakes “
There are equally interesting characters like Bra Zakes, Madala, Sipho Sibanda, Tinyiko, Putco, Samuels, Charles, Mr Do Santos, Kingsley, Hulisani and Philemon Xali. Through whom, themes of statutory rape, survival, homophobia, career, sibling rivalry, religion and marriage are explored.
I felt the characters of Charles and Kingsley could have been further developed. They played pivotal roles in the story. As a reader, I felt I barely knew them and that more could have been divulged on their background. Especially Kingsley, it was not clear what his motive was for sabotaging Themba at work.
A well-written and researched project by an engineer turned banker turned full-time author. Other books by Duker are titled “Dying In New York”, White Mahala, and “Yellow Bone”. This book highly recommended.