Along the shores of the Eastern Cape, a disturbing story builds, that will have devastating effects on a settled life in Johannesburg.
A city in transition, Johannesburg is still gripped by a slightly faded euphoria, yet teeters on the edge of disenchantment. Megan returns from a sojourn in London to find her cousin Francesca using the normality of her life to obscure the dark imprint left by her past. Megan has little time for that though. She has discovered Johannesburg, in all its larger-than-life aspects.
Her life, and that of Francesca, seem to absorb some of the wild extremes of this vivid city. Megan meets it all head-on, while Francesca struggles to deal with a difficult marriage that cannot quite transcend the fears and freneticism of a new society, and a slightly impaired child.
In a time when people party to forget, and yet never quite let go, both Megan and Francesca will be dragged headlong into remembering before they are able to understand forgiveness.
This is a story of hope and recovery, told with the lyricism Jo-Anne Richards showed in The Innocence of Roast Chicken. The city is poetically dealt with and her flawed, but sympathetic characters wrestle with issues that are both uniquely South African and common to all people.
After the novels of apartheid and of the state of emergency have come the novels of transition: Nadine Gordimer’s None to Accompany Me, Ivan Vladislavic’s The Restless Supermarket, Andre Brink’s Rights of Desire and, of course, JM Coetzee’s Disgrace. Jo-Anne Richards’s third novel sits squarely in this tradition . . . All in all, Sad at the Edges is a readable, relatively upbeat exploration of a new urban class and an optimistic evocation of a new future in which the past can be forgotten or at least forgiven. . .
… a fascinating emotional rollercoaster ride, frankly and brutally written, that gives a voice to the people who have fallen by the wayside in the aftermath of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid . . . It’s a part of the apartheid struggle that hasn’t been examined much in literature, and Richards does these men and women excellent justice in Sad at the Edges
Jo-Anne’s lyrical writing and disturbing story make this an engrossing book.
Poignant, with flashes of humour, Sad at the Edges is an interesting look at how the effects of apartheid lingered even among those it did not directly harm. But more than that, it’s a warm story about anyone.