Home Away: 24 Hours, 24 Cities, 24 Writers, Edited By Louis Greenberg
A brainwavez.org Literary Review
I found that the best way to enjoy Home Away is slowly, a tale or two at a time. Though this requires incredible self restraint to achieve, as the stories are so compelling and what you really want to do is sit in a sunny spot on a warm summer evening, or in front of an inviting fireplace on a chilly winter one, and read the entire book in one intense sweep.
Pausing, however, gave me time to savour the characters, the situations, and the cities. It also gave me time to reflect - not only on the authors, some of whom I know well, and some of whom I've yet to meet, but also, more importantly, on the stories and my reaction to them. Some were incredibly, unexpectedly poignant while others where fun-filled, exhilarating rides through a time and a place I may never get to experience. With such a variety, I never knew what was coming next and this was rather exciting because I had few expectations and an open mind.
It was the poignant stories that resonated most with me, and this caught me by surprise and really led to long periods of introspection and contemplation on the nature of home and identity. With the vast changes that have happened in South Africa in the past 15 years we are all very sensitive to these issues and many of us have also been left to question the very nature of what our home and identity is. Many of us are lost. We don't know who we are. We don't know who others are expecting us to be. I've certainly felt this - white, English-speaking South Africans don't have a culture and a heritage that is as easily identifiable as someone who is white and speaks Afrikaans, or is Coloured, or Xhosa, or Zulu, or Ndebele, or .... It's hard to know who you are - sometimes you just know who you aren't. In this context of culture and identity, I experienced an ephiphany towards the end of the book. While I won't go into detail, I realised that certain subtleties within the various sentiments that are expressed collectively in Home Away represent aspects of my culture. While they may resonate with people from other parts of the world there is something so inherently "us" about them that I realised that that, with which I do identify, is my culture.
I know I haven't mentioned all the writers in this review, rather focussing on the work as a whole, but this by no means indicates a dissatisfaction with any of the stories. Though some resonated with me much more intensely than others, and that almost feels as though it should be kept a private matter betwen myself and the book, all the stories contributed something quite special to the overall picture Home Away paints of identity. There was something quite enjoyable about encountering each new story with no idea of what to expect. I don't wish to discuss any of the stories in any particular detail for I fear I will destroy the magic inherent in each one - rather, I'd prefer readers to discover them for themselves. (The comments section of this review, however, is open to discussions and spoilers.)
Home Away speaks to the heart and soul of the South African spirit but its themes are universal and its tales touch (almost) all the continents. It is a magnificent compilation and is highly recommended.
A proof copy of Home Away was provided by Zebra Press for review purposes. The book is available at local retailers in South Africa and should be available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk soon. Refer to the "Shop Online" box below for more details. All author royalties are being donated to two worthy projects, the Adonis Musati Project in the Western Cape and Kids Haven in Gauteng.
Key Facts (Retail Copy)
Title: Home Away: 24 Hours, 24 Cities, 24 Writers
Editor: Louis Greenberg
Authors: Various (see "In The Collection", below)
Year: 2010 (April 2010)
Format: Trade paperback
Genre/Keywords: Africa, crime, drama, fiction, identity, horror, humour, noir, non fiction, science fiction, South Africa, travel
Cover Design: Monique Oberholzer
Foreward: Vikas Swarup
In The Collection
On The Internet
Speak Your Mind