‘When Morning Comes’: a fine balance between fact and fiction

news-image

In her powerful debut novel, ‘When Morning Comes’, Arushi Raina brings alive the social, political and interpersonal turmoil of the 1976 Soweto Uprising in South Africa

By Somak Ghoshal

On this day in 1976, about 20,000 school students in Johannesburg’s Soweto Township marched in protest against the oppressive education policies imposed by the apartheid government. Long before the era of the internet and smartphones, the rally took months of clandestine planning. Lives and allegiances were tested, the police raided gatherings of black people, opening fire on them as they demanded the repeal of Afrikaans-only school curricula, and people disappeared without a trace.

In her powerful debut novel, When Morning Comes, Arushi Raina brings alive the social, political and interpersonal turmoil of the Soweto Uprising. Published a couple of years ago in the US, the book comes to India courtesy Duckbill, as part of its Not Our War series. Following Rukhsana Khan’s Wanting Mor, set in war-torn Afghanistan, and Carolyn Marsden’s The White Zone, set in contemporary Iraq, When Morning Comes is a rich addition.

Told through the voices of four characters — a white South African boy (Jack), a black girl (Zanele), a tsotsi or thug (Thabo) and an Indian girl (Meena) — Raina’s story combines historical fidelity with social realism. The momentum keeps the reader on tenterhooks, the arc of the plot shifting with almost every page. But somewhere along the breathless sequence of conspiracies, intrigues, betrayals and vendetta, one begins to decipher the gentler nuances of an improbable affection between Jack and Zanele.

The contrast between Jack’s life of unthinking privilege and the daily struggle of Zanele’s family to subsist (her mother is a maid working for Jack’s parents and her father has gone missing mysteriously) is etched out in piercing episodes. Initially depicted as callow, Jack’s transformation into an outcast is achieved in delicate stages. Zanele, fiery and reckless, leaves her mark in her moments of vulnerability.

Writing largely for a young-adult readership, Raina maintains a fine balance between fact and fiction. 

If the four-way splicing of her narrative keeps the reader on their toes, the emotional core of the story — the insecurities, jealousies, anger and frustrations of a generation — demand a deeper moral investment. 

Raina paints her characters, especially Zanele, with fine strokes. 

Her authorial insights are offered lightly, usually in a throwaway remark or a sideways reference. In her ability to pace the story like a thriller, yet add psychological depth, Raina proves herself to be a writer of distinctive promise. – livemint.com

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Comments

image

Poachers have broken into Botswana’s p Read more...

10 Aug, 2018 at 01:58 PM

image

In a sign that Botswana is likely to cli Read more...

02 Jul, 2018 at 09:26 AM

image

DAR ES SALAAM - DIRECTIVES on online for Read more...

02 Jul, 2018 at 01:24 PM

image

The Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, W Read more...

28 Mar, 2018 at 06:05 PM

image

Gaborone – The Botswana government has Read more...

25 May, 2018 at 02:35 PM

image

Johannesburg - About a thousand women fr Read more...

21 Nov, 2018 at 07:01 AM

image

Windhoek - The AB InBev Namibia, through Read more...

21 Nov, 2018 at 06:50 AM

image

Windhoek- President of the Republic of N Read more...

19 Nov, 2018 at 08:43 AM

image

Windhoek – A lack of funds has been bl Read more...

19 Nov, 2018 at 08:40 AM

image

Lusaka – Zambia is on the verge of los Read more...

19 Nov, 2018 at 08:39 AM

image

Heads of state and ministers who travell Read more...

30 Jul, 2018 at 02:01 PM

image

Windhoek - Team Namibia will this year a Read more...

26 Oct, 2018 at 10:52 AM

image

African sovereign funds represent only 3 Read more...

24 Sep, 2018 at 09:52 AM

image

Adjudicating match officials are not a n Read more...

31 Aug, 2018 at 09:02 AM

image

Former South African president, Kgalema Read more...

26 Sep, 2018 at 09:54 AM