Read advance reader review of Innards by Magogodi oaMphela Makhene

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by Magogodi oaMphela Makhene

Innards by Magogodi oaMphela Makhene X
Innards by Magogodi oaMphela Makhene
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  • Marilyn T.
    Innards: Stories
    Through compelling stories, Makhene shows the cruel injustice of life during apartheid, and on to the present day where its tragic legacy continues. Soweto Township was designed to house, and contain, Black workers who labored in Johannesburg or nearby mines. Even with limited aspirations and homes with dirt floors, Soweto beckoned Blacks who had been driven from tribal homelands: “They came riding cattle lorries. The whole world traveling with them, herded onto truck flatbeds.”

    Through varied perspectives, rich dialogue, and traditional storytelling; Makhene offers an indelible portrait of Soweto’s inhabitants, young and old. My reading progress was slow as I looked up unfamiliar slang words and phrases; and historical references.

    This wonderful collection rewards careful reading; offering an unflinching perspective on a historical era that is relevant to current events in South Africa and the US. Innards contains scenes of tragic injustice and violence; these are balanced with humor and insight. Overall, Makhene conveys hope through the resilience and unbroken spirits of her characters.
  • Tonyia Robinson
    Enjoyable and Enriching!!
    The novel, “Innards “ is more than a collection stories of life in Soweto, South Africa. In each story the novel tells the character’s innards of their situation and surroundings.

    The stories in the novel are so rich, dynamic, and diverse that they uniquely related to each other. Each situation and the characters, reveals the culture and their human dynamics while discussing their thoughts, dreams and living experiences within the injustices and challenges living in Apartheid Soweto and other areas in South Africa. The author, Makene, covers various topics about Apartheid’s inception in South-Western Townships to its present incorporation in Johannesburg.

    Makene even shows the Apartheid’s linkage to racism and human right violations that was practiced in Soweto and South Africa similarly in US, South America, Canada, India, the Caribbean and other places through her various stories. She even discloses how the same violations or cruel treatment in the other countries was manifested in South Africa. Even how colorism impacted the characters.

    Truthfully, I had to read some background about Apartheid; the institution and policies. I even wanted to understand the Afrikaan language of the characters to get a real appreciation of their expression of views about their living conditions and thoughts.

    I definitely enjoyed this book and how the author masterly linked each story as a body of work.
  • Nicole S. (St. Paul, MN)
    Ridiculously good!
    Wow! This book captures the complexities of apartheid South Africa with an eye toward the complexities of white nationalism and supremacy. It is good. The language transports you to South Africa, the descriptions build the world, and the storytelling breaks that world into a million pieces! Read this book, share it with friends, it is that good!!
  • Ellie B. (Mount Airy, MD)
    A Strong Debut
    The author takes us into the world of black Africans, living lives unseen by the whites, beautifully creating the smells, tastes, sensations, and experiences that shaped her. We feel, see, smell, taste and understand the need to be recognized. And we share her need to acknowledge that the stories of her people have not yet been fully told.
  • Linda H. (Manitowoc, WI)
    Difficult, but important
    The title is indeed apt. The difficulties of being black and poor in South Africa are painfully clear. The inner landscapes of these stories is bleak, but also important. I can see why the author chose to use dialect, since several of the stories are focused on the "innards" of the person. However, I felt in need of a mini dictionary at the back, especially in the first two or three stories. I hope the published/author will add that to make this important work more accessible
  • Gloria M. (San Jose, CA)
    Powerful Debut
    I am glad I read "Innards" by debut author Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (thank you to Bookbrowse for introducing me to this work of fiction!)  This collection of twelve stories captures a country and history I am not familiar with other than some very brief mentions in long-ago history classes.  Makhene is a gifted writer, weaving words and descriptions to evoke a culture and traditions and creating empathy for a people and civilization different in many ways from my own, but also similar in the basic human aspirations of survival and love and family and hope and humor (though I appreciate and acknowledge the humor within, I must admit it is unique and didn't actually make me laugh-but it is an integral part of the strength of the stories that all humans find joy where they can.)

    Soweto, South Africa is the setting for the characters that interconnect throughout the stories.  They are brutally subjugated by those in power and their extreme poverty creates memorable individuals and families trying to survive and hoping for a better life.  Black men without money or power lose their lands and their lives and the women and children fare even worse.  But there are traditions and laughter and I found each and every story spoke of  something that will resonate with me for a long time.

    The title story, "Innards" tells the saga of a patriarch who earns a paltry living selling the bits and pieces of animals that most people shun.  His customers are the poorest of the poor, but his family is embarrassed by his actions and his friends and neighbors ridicule him. But our lives are messy.  We constantly rewrite our history (if only to ourselves) even as we live it, to better make it fit our preferred narrative.  However, the reality and the cold hard truth is our existence is not shiny and gold and perfect.  Our heart is not a pretty red cutout, it is a muscular organ that is bloody and unattractive to most, with the possible exceptions of those in the medical profession.

    Who will enjoy this book?  Anyone who wants to be engrossed and educated and feel strong emotions.  This is not a light summer beach read.  It took me a minute to get into the flow of the stories, but the writer's thoughtful opening letter to "Dear Reader" was a valuable assist.  I would actually give it a rating of 4 1/2 stars if that option were available to me.  I will disclose that some of the cultural references were totally unknown to me and I could have benefitted from some footnotes. I did not want to put the book down and do research on the internet as I prefer to remain enveloped in whatever I am reading. I look forward to more from this new and modern author!!
  • Dianne Y
    Magogodi oaMphela Makhene is definitely a skillful writer. Her short stories included great descriptions and some very cleverly written sentences. I am normally a big fan of historic fiction, however, without an understanding of the various African phrases used throughout and knowledge of specific references to African history and apartheid, I found it difficult to fully follow the various storylines and the authors intent.
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