Playscript set in the sixties reworked as a novel

2009-03-04 00:00

Originally conceived as a playscript, The Lahnee’s Pleasure has been reworked as a novel, introduced by a contextualising prologue whose relentlessly mocking tone, contrived phrasing and apparent thesaurian addiction (symptomatic of what lies ahead) are enough to make the reader halt right there.

Set in the sixties in Mount Edgecombe, north of Durban, the novel recalls South Africa’s period of “pigmentocracy” when the “melanin-challenged” (or, variously, “-starved”, “-impaired”, etc.) and the “melanin-overloaded” (or, variously, “-enriched”, “-blessed”, etc.) lived and labored according to the edicts of apartheid. Though there were transgressions. One such is the focus of the first “book” of the novel.

The Lahnee, who has lowly British origins, is the manager of the White House Hotel, a Tudor-style edifice situated amid fields of sugar cane and housing the regulation separate bar facilities of the time. His wife, who has literary pretensions and has married beneath her, chances to see, from her second storey room, the muscled 18-year-old Fanyana Ngcobo working below in the fields, and, likened in a rather labored parody to Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott, she is overcome with ardour for the local Lancelot. Given the period, there will inevitably be consequences. Though Govender’s treatment of the situation and its resolution is light.

While there are hints of further significant characters and events in Book the first, these are not fully unfolded until Book the second, by which time the Lady of Shalott and Lancelot have been dispatched. The focus switches to the grievance of Mothielall Sewmungal, loyal employee of the Hulett Sugar Company for 30 years and the father of six children. His distress is over his teenage daughter, who, it seems, has been visited covertly by the flashy Johnny, a streetwise, otherwise individual who sports long hair and drives a Ford Mustang. The pub at the White House Hotel is a consoling venue in which to purge angst and plot action.

Govender has had obvious enjoyment in writing this book. That is evident in the humour, the paciness and the satirical characterisation and speech patterns. However, the mock-melodrama, authorial intervention and ultimately uneven quality of the work — not to mention typographical errors — conspire to make this an unsatisfying reading experience.

Moira Lovell

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.