One of the most amazing things after reading a novel is the warm feeling inside of immediately craving a sequel.
This highlights the good quality of the story in the novel and also the level of original writing from the author. And this what Terry-An Adams has done to me in her debut novel titled, Those Who Live in Cages.
In Those Who Live in Cages, the author lays bare the everyday living experiences of the Coloured community in Eldorado Park. Through the two families, the Abrahams and the Louw’s, who perfectly mirror the distinctive social lives and status of the people in Eldorado Park, the scribe sketches the harrowing and excruciating stories of Coloured women in the community.
While the women are of different generations, it is the same social ills in the community of Eldorado Park that pigeon holes their lives into the same societal cage. Abuse, religion, teenage pregnancy, patriarchy, Colouredness, colourism, otherisation, alcoholism, addiction, and shame are the cages that house these women.
Now, I need to admit that Those Who Live in Cages is an excitedly cracking novel that has successfully positioned Terry-Ann as one of South Africa’s future stars in the literary space.
Her artful writing, which supports the amazing and the important storyline, which I must admit ended in a cliff-hanger, is one that made her win my heart instantly and made me yearn for a sequel.
Her ability through her characters to trigger different emotions in me is what makes this novel original. I found myself sympathizing with the younger generations, Janice, Kaylynn, Laverne, and Raquel, who are suffocated by their families, caged in patriarchal mindsets.
While the novel in a way also celebrates the resilient spirit of many Coloured women and putting their plight out there, I think many readers will struggle with the mixture of languages that the scribe opts to use.
I think one of the challenges that Terry-Ann faced in this novel was the balance between keeping the authenticity of her characters, and her ability to accommodate other readers.
Firstly, I need to give credit to her for having done a commendable job in giving all her characters their unique voices. She allowed them to tell their stories in the best way possible through colloquial language.
Bertha is an illiterate Coloured woman and it would have been an injustice to force her to speak English and credit to Terry for allowing her to praat.
However, readers (myself included) who are non-Afrikaans speaking, will easily skip the pages where Bertha ‘praats’ and as result of that, we miss her story.
I personally think the author in this regard should have resorted to translations to cater for everyone.
Despite that, this is a brilliant and important novel that depicts an honest picture of the struggles which old and young Coloured women face in Eldorado Park.