Friday, May 24, 2019

Such a Lonely, Lovely Road by Kagiso Lesego Molope

I really can't recall where I heard about this book, but I'm definitely glad I did.  At its heart it was a love story, but there was really so much more to it.

Kabelo is a young boy living in a South African township.  His parents, a successful doctor and his shop owner wife, dream of him becoming a doctor, working with his father and marrying the perfect woman in a festive township wedding.  The only problem is Kabelo is gay - and he is terribly afraid of coming out.

At the end of high school he becomes very close with his neighbourhood friend, Sediba, which confirms his long held suspicion that he is gay and further strengthens his resolve to escape the township by studying medicine in Cape Town.  While there he meets Rodney, a white student who is also gay, and through him meets others and has his first sexual encounters.  They are all quick, impersonal and in secret.  When the partying life overwhelms him, Kabelo transfers to Durban and tries to lose himself in his work.

He's distracted from that plan when Sediba re-enters his life and they develop and enviable relationship - except that Kabelo is still unwilling to come out to his parents and others in the township which leads to tension.

The remainder of the book deals with how Kabelo comes to terms with his sexuality, particularly in relation to his parents and Sediba.  All of this is set against the backdrop of post-Apartheid South Africa, township life, race relations and the emergence of AIDS in the community.

I really enjoyed this book - the characters were all warm and very human.

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