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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive look at life in apartheid south africa, 23 April 2013
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This review is from: Coconut (Paperback)
This is an incredibly insightful book, and rightfully won the European Book award in 2007. Matlwa narrates the experiences of two young women growing up in post apartheid south africa. One is wealthy, highly educated, but dismissed by friends and society. The other is poor, uneducated and lamentably idealistic. Only one ordinary day passes in the novel, yet in this time the women experience enough slights to prompt recollections of the generations of oppression and isolation which have beset black South Africans. Both of their futures are also uncertain. In the face of racism and family breakdown, it is not clear that either woman will be able to reach her full potential.

It is not fair to describe this simply as a "sassy" or "light" read. The book is indeed short, and often amusing. Yet this is in the context of some very weighty themes. The marginalisation of the two main characters from their own lives is striking. The narratives of brothers, white fashion models and employers take frequently precedence over the views of the women themselves. Matlwa's also makes careful use of structure to bring out parallels between the lives of white and black, rich and poor. Her delicate portrayals of white south africans suggests that despite their relative power, the atomisation of south african society leaves them equally confused and estranged.

Overall, a jarring and enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and thought-provoking, 25 April 2015
This review is from: Coconut (Paperback)
I came to this book by a rather strange route, in that I was working on a manuscript about the economics of South Africa, and the author had quoted from "Coconut" in a chapter about what he termed "enclavization". I was interested, so I bought the book. It's beautifully written, a little literary gem that is gentle in its approach, yet hard-hitting in its conclusions. There is a tendency, outside South Africa at least, to assume that now that they don't have legalized apartheid, everything is OK. This is not the case. There are so many ways in which you can marginalize people and yet stay within the law. The two black girls whose stories are told, Ofilwe and Fiks, find themselves between worlds. Ofilwe's family have become rich, and can therefore afford to live in a wealthy area, but their white neighbours don't accept them. Fiks lives in a poor township and has dreams of becoming like Ofilwe, but doesn't realize that money, even if she had it, would not solve the problem of being black among a white elite. The book raises uncomfortable questions, but also gives valuable insight. Well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall this is a good book, 2 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Coconut (Paperback)
This book shows South Africa's life from a different perspective. It is easy to read, but it is not great literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 July 2014
This review is from: Coconut (Paperback)
very interesting and I suggest every young person should read it
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Astonishing Debut, 22 July 2010
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This review is from: Coconut (Paperback)
Coconut tells the story of black people trying to get by in what were once exclusively white South African neighrourhoods. The two principal characters are smart and sassy. It is a light read tackling very complex issues. I recommend it for anyone seeking to understand contemporary south african society
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Coconut
Coconut by Kopano Matlwa (Paperback - 2 May 2007)
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