Fresh and enjoyable novel set in Durban

2009-12-30 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Maha Ever After

Sumayya Lee

Kwela Books

THIS is a beautiful, fun and interesting story set in Durban during the nineties, a sequel to the novel The Story of Maha. It follows the life of Maha, a free-spirited, independent character who finds herself trapped in a marriage where her in-laws ­dictate her lifestyle. Her husband is unfaithful to her and she decides to divorce him. This has serious repercussions as she is Muslim and the Muslim community does not ­approve of her divorce. She is expected to enter a period of mourning as she has shamed both her own and her husband’s families. She finds herself on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

The characters in the novel are­hilarious and portray the diversity that exists in South Africa. Lee uses the various South African dialects to weave a fascinating, honest look into the lives of South African Indians, coloureds and Africans. The novel also highlights the stereotypes and prejudices that exist in our country through the insight and comments of the various characters. She deals with serious issues with a light-hearted and humorous approach.

Lee was born in Durban and now lives in London, thus making this another celebration in South Africa’s growing body of fiction. Lee writes with honesty and questions what it is to be Muslim, a woman and a South African. Her writing is fresh and interesting. Her first novel, about the same character, was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2008. This one is definitely a novel I would encourage all South Africans to read.

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