"Risk" was recommended by a clerk at a bookstore in the Johannesburg Int'l Airport. My ask of him was to recommend a contemporary novel written by a black South African, set in South Africa, that explores the current post Apartheid social and political landscape of the country. The clerk delivered. "Risk" delves into the complexities of South Africa's emergence from racial oppression through the lens of the countries youth. Staggie's characters are university students of varying socio-economic and racial backgrounds who coalesce around the idea of a movement that starts off as a game but evolves into much more.
Through The Movements evolution; the author reveals a wide range of social ills that threaten the future of the new South Africa; from HIV/Aids to the unemployment and under education of the country's formerly oppressed racial groups. From the still unbalanced economic terrain (my experience of the country was that most businesses remain in the ownership of white South African's or foreign nationals while blacks and coloureds work for them) to the continent's over-indebtedness internationally, Staggie provides ample fodder for the interested reader to further investigate.
I found "Risk" enjoyable on many levels. It's revolutionary in tone and highlights the impact - positive and negative - a country's youth can have on its politics. It's easily accessible and reflects an academic environment that captures the energy of students who feel they have a voice in the direction of the country. It's thought provoking and reinforced for this reader the revolutionary aspects, powered by youth, of the election of America's first black President. It's fresh thematically, for me; unlike the literature of the white South Africans that I've read (Gordimer and Coetzee) whose writing seems to wrestle with reconciliation from the oppressor's perspective. Its pace picks up as the novel progresses, keeping the reader engaged and vested in the outcome. A solid debut overall and highly recommended. Enjoy!