The Yearning is the debut novel of South African author, Mohale Mashigo. It tells the story of Marubini, a young African girl who is living a beautiful and fulfilled life, working at a prestigious wine farm, living in beautiful Cape Town (the most beautiful city in SA, please don’t argue with me) and is involved in a steady relationship with her French restaurateur boyfriend.
Her life sounds perfect, until the past she didn’t know about starts affecting her present. Mohale gives us insight into Marubini’s life by telling not only her present story, but stories of her childhood in flashback chapters. Of her relationship with her father and grandfather, who has passed when she was young and still feels the loss of them greatly in her present life. Her tight knit relationship with her grandmother are also being explored as the only woman in her life who was prepared to be honest with her about her past/heritage.
“Grief is so elusive, just when you think the worst is over, it comes back again to remind you how empty your life is without the person you lost” – page 45
Marubini starts suffering from nightmares and seizures, episodes that leaves her to either faint or injure herself in a way that her mother and boyfriend starts suspecting her of being suicidal. It eventually starts taking a toll on her relationship with her mother and boyfriend, however I do find it strange that what is happening with her is something that her mother should be aware of, from past experiences, but decides to turn a blind eye. Her younger brother however is the first one that believes her, as something strange has been happening to him as well. He has had visions of Marubini’s struggle long before it happened, in the form of his art. He drew pictures of Marubini trying to drown herself, etc before it happened. Together, brother and sister start exploring the reasons for what is happening in their lives. Discussing these reasons in my review, would be giving too much away. For that, you’ll have to pick up the book if you find what you read so far has piqued your interest.
The Yearning gives us the story of how the past can influence your life. To me, the story was interesting, because it is foreign. There are some African dialect used in the story, which I ignored when I read the novel, because I was being a lazy reader, however I don’t think it distracts from the overall story you will get in the end when finishing the book. In parts, I felt disconnected from the writing style and prose, however at only 192 pages; this book is a page turner and quick read. It’s worth a read if you’re looking to add more South African fiction to your reading list.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Panmacmillan SA, for review consideration