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The World Unseen

by Shamim Sarif

This book reveals more than one unseen world but the main focus is young Indian women in 1950s’ apartheid South Africa. It evokes the heat and dust, sounds and smells, the underlying tension, and the ever present sense of danger. Sharply perceptive, it’s sympathetic to the men as well as the women and full of surprises. Try this if you want an easy read with a lot of depth.

Extract

‘This place – how can you stand it?’ Rehmat asked her.
‘Stand what? I love it – I love the country, the space. I don’t know, I just feel at home here. It’s not like India.’
‘Yes it is,’ replied Rehmat, shaking her head. ‘It is exactly like a mini India. Our people come here but live the same way – keep their women inside, keep their children inside. And God help anyone who tries to fight it.’
‘God helps me to fight it,’ smiled Amina. ‘I don’t stay inside. And I think you probably fought it too,’ she added.
Rehmat smiled, but her eyes were sad as she looked at Amina.
‘I did fight it. I fought is so hard that I had to leave.’

Parallels

In Beautiful Disguises by Rajeev Balasubramanyan
Debbie Go Home by Alan Paton
My Beautiful Laundrette - the film
 

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