This book starts with a bang, afterwards crawls along for a long while, then ends with a reverberation of the earlier bang. London Cape Town Joburg is primarily a family tale that is set in each of the three cities depicted in its title that spans a period of 17 years. It follows the lives of Germaine and Martin O’Malley.
The book opens with a brutal force as the Germaine finds the lifeless body of her son in the bathroom. The bulk of the story that follows seems mundane in the light of that apparent suicide. The mundanity of the rest of the story – the love, living, career and migration of the family is comfortably carried by the suspense created by the suicide at the onset. The ordinariness of the bulk of the story is not a reflection on the depth in character development of the major characters nor is it a reflection on Zukiswa’s writing, which is crisp, simple and free-flowing.
London Cape Town Joburg on the surface seems like an ordinary tale but scratch the surface and a lot come tumbling out. Race relations, fidelity, migration, child molestation and even homophobia are subtly and wittingly dealt with. The book is structured in a very accessible manner, making Germaine and Martin the narrator in turns, works very well.
The end is as tragic as the beginning. The fact that I did not see it coming is proof that we can never be careful enough with paedophiles able to wreak havoc in the most subtle of ways. The role of Martin in shielding the paedophile all these years is a sad indictment of his fatherhood.
An easy and good read. Recommended.