Extraordinary stories can sometimes be found in ordinary letters. This is the discovery that awaits readers of this gentle and beautifully written correspondence between a political prisoner and a self-described housewife during apartheid's last decade. The circumstances of loss prompting Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada to write a letter of sympathy to a former flat-mate Abdulhak "Bis" Bismillah are met with an unexpected reply from Bis's sister. Zuleikha Mayat, a Durban community organiser and editor of the best-selling cookbook Indian Delights, initiates a correspondence with Kathrada that continues until his release ten years later. Virtual strangers, they have in common their small-town Transvaal childhoods in Muslim shops in the early 20th century; and they find much to explore in their different approaches to questions of culture, politics and religion. The letters are written with wit and style, as they discuss both the issues of the day and the sustenance found in memory. These letters tell the story, all the more powerful for its ephemeral character, of a developing epistolary friendship between two people to whom history has brought different gains and losses.
The collection is rich not merely in historical content and stylistic interest, but in the experience it offers to the reader of an unfolding conversation, reflecting both the immediate worlds of its authors and a tumultuous period of South African history.
Publisher: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd ISBN: 9781770097537 Number of pages: 304 Weight: 410 g Dimensions: 210 x 148 x 23 mm
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