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Period Pain

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,024 ratings  ·  180 reviews
Kopano Matlwa stole South Africa's heart with her debut novel Coconut. With almost 25 000 sales this award-winning title cemented her position as one of South Africa's bestselling authors. With her follow-up novel, Spilt Milk, Kopano continued to amaze us with her ability to intimately address complex political issues through relatable characters. This year she brings us ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published October 1st 2016 by Jacana Media
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  1,024 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 South Africa, the lingering effects of apartheid and the insubstantial condition of the public healthcare system is explored in this slim novel. In a voice both raw and visceral, Masechaba, a young doctor writes in her journal, her thoughts, frustrations, insecurities, all addressed to God. Divided into four parts the first explored her background, the reason she went into medicine. Having attained her position she finds herself often not up the task of during people without enough ...more
Evening Primrose is the journal of Masechaba, a young doctor in South Africa. She sometimes talks about her life – the chronic endometriosis she suffered as a girl, her brother's death – and sometimes about her work – the sheer exhaustion of life as a junior intern, the guilt that accompanies her inability to conjure sympathy for every patient. She writes in brief sketches, addresses her journal entries to God, and punctuates parts of her narrative with passages from the Bible.

Within the first
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh lawd, the last time I read a book in a day was a while back. It helped that it was a school day therefore had hours to dedicate, uninterrupted, to my reading of this book.

Kopano Matlwa writes with a maturity which veils her age. Instead of this trait disguising her true nature, it reveals herself to the reader. Herself. Her inner being. Her perceptual self.

I'd read 2 of her books previously, "The Coconut" and "Spilt Milk". I wasn't so taken by "The Coconut". Felt that the protagonist was too
Eric Anderson
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Immigration is such a heated political topic in Britain - especially since the Brexit vote last year - that it's interesting to consider how other countries have experienced waves of anti-immigration sentiments in recent times. Kopano Matlwa's “Evening Primrose” is set in a post-apartheid South Africa where a growing wave of xenophobia causes an especially brutal period of cruelty and violence against foreigners. Not only are Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Somalis and Chinese immigrants targeted, but ...more
Janelle | She Reads with Cats
Thank you so much to Quercus for providing my free copy of EVENING PRIMROSE by Kopano Matlwa - all opinions are my own.

What I love most about this book is the writing style. It’s raw, powerful, interesting, and very much human. Masechaba is a doctor in South Africa who details her life in her journal, and it is that journal that we have the pleasure of reading. This is a very short novel but with a really big impact. I felt as if I was reading someone’s mind, very much how I felt when I read Go
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
!!! book blog review
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
A well-written, harrowing story set within the claustrophobic confines of a young black female doctor's consciousness and harried work environment as postapartheid South Africa descends into xenophobic violence. I didn't end up liking the novel, though: both the limited point of view and the gratingly overt religiosity—which overwhelmed the latter third of the novel—sapped it of most of its power.
Roman Clodia
Matlwa's first-person narrator has a strong voice which I liked but this short, almost abbreviated story feels underwritten and lacking in freshness. There's no real sense of post-Apartheid South Africa, and horrific/distressing events are told in a mundane, pedestrian, unemphatic way. Now, I often like emotional restraint in a book rather than lurid hand-wringing but this merely feels undifferentiated from many (many) other books that follow a similar narrative arc (view spoiler) ...more
Puleng Hopper
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A "bloody" novel. I swear i smelt and saw blood as I read on. Moreover the setting is mainly at a hospital.

Matlwa uses her intense , unpredictable and painful menstrual circle as an effective metaphor to portray devastating socio economical and political situations within a transitioning post democratic South Africa.

The format is in personal diary form wherein the main character, Masechaba is brutally honest and pours her raw emotions out . At times questioning God, Jesus, and her ancestors. In
It was okay. I finished it in an hour and a half - so an easy read if not easy subject matter. It's real and it's honest, brutally so, but the religious content, and the talking to God and Jesus, becomes irritating, to me at least. Matlwa is not afraid to confront real issues in contemporary South Africa - xenophobia and rape, in particular, but I don't feel that this novel is up there with her first two books.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow! I need time to unpack this story.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Evening Primrose” by Kopano Matlwa is, first and foremost, someone’s personal journal. The writing suggests that the main character, Masechaba, never meant for it to become public. It’s an invitation into someone’s mind, no filters, no sugar-coating for the sake of the reader’s feelings. The rawness of it is both endearing and infuriating. Tender at times but not at all gentle, it’s a piece populated by unmeasured words, sharp as the tongue of someone who has travelled the spectrum of tragedy.

Kath Elizabeth
This was a hard book to read. Although it was engaging in some ways, I found myself quite disconnected from the characters because of the style of writing - I found it to be very sparsely written and bleak. It follows a woman who grows up in South Africa and becomes a doctor, and is miserable in her life. It also touches on difficult topics such as menstruation, racism, suicide and sexual assault. Probably quite an important read, but not exactly enjoyable.
Greg Bem
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The systems and patterns of love, harmony, resentment, and chaos of contemporary South Africa are emotionally and rigorously explored through a challenging Bildungsroman in Kopano Matlwa’s latest work. The story is large, brutal, and beautiful, contextual to its place and also universal in the brightness of its process of awakening.

(Full review here:
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evening Primrose, Kopano Matlwa’s third novel (originally published in South Africa under the title Period Pain), is written in the form of a journal kept by Masechaba, a young doctor working in a busy South African city hospital. A recent medical school graduate, Masechaba’s menstrual cycle causes her intense suffering; it is one of the factors that motivated her to seek a career in medicine: to someday find a cure for her chronic pain, which in her opinion the medical profession has never ...more
Ramona Mead
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so grateful to my book club for bringing this book into my life. I doubt I would have chosen it, or even encountered it otherwise.

For such a short work of fiction, Matlwa accomplishes a great deal in exploring living conditions and xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa. Though it took me a while to realize it's written as a journal, once I got into the groove, it works extremely well in conveying the narrator's pain - both physical and emotional. I couldn't stop reading. There were
How can such a tiny book - I gobbled it up in two hours - contain such a whole world in it with so much anger, exhaustion, turmoil and a light at the end of the tunnel?
A good view over one's own horizon, once every now and then, is truly needed and man. This is truly different to my life, so I'm glad it got woken up out of oblivion again.
(Not for the squeamish. Should come with trigger warnings perhaps...)
Pamela Mikita
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a small but powerful book which can be read in a couple of hours. Part of me wishes it was a more detailed novel instead of the short diary style. Very well written, hard to read subject matter, but bold and meaningful. This was my first of hers and I will read her two others and wait to see what this young and talented author will bring in the future.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a powerful look into the medical world from an honest perspective. There was no sugar coating to the truth that Matlwa offered. There are so many issues that are unravelled and exposed to the reader and often there are moments of breaking open of usually smoothed upon issues. One of the best books i've read this year!
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella
An absolute gut-punch of a book, in the best possible way. It's very short, but has so much power in its few pages. And I'm still thinking about the last line.
Frances Wilde
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm never reading a sad book ever again. I'm done.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: period-talk
3.5 stars

CW: Racism, xenophobia, sexual assault, declining mental health

Evening Primrose is an interesting short novel set in South Africa, and follows a young medical student as she trains to be a doctor but is finding it hard to live with the amount of xenophobic behaviour she witnesses everyday.

This book had some of the best period/menstruation rep I’ve ever read, and Masechaba’s relationships with her own female genitalia/organs, and how she felt towards her body was a strong message
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Between the main character, her mother and her roommate the author was able to create a microcosmic representation of South African society today. It deals with a people that is still recovering from apartheid and also has to deal with an influx of immigrants from other African nations bringing out xenophobia.

Another facet of the story is about the main character surviving sexual assault and covers the inner torment of identifying the reason why this has happened to her... this part is gut
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at my library never having heard anything about it but thinking it sounded interesting. I’m so glad I did because I found a wonderful author. This is her third book and I thought it was so good I just purchased her other two books as well. I need to read all of her work!This book was about 150 pages but packed full of powerful statements. This story is about a woman in South Africa and all of her achievements and struggles in her life. Very powerful story. A must read.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
I have first heard of this book from Hannah Tay’s channel and I fell in love with the review so I was ecstatic when I was offered a copy. I inhale read it during the weekend and it is by far one of the best books of the year I have read. 5 star doesn’t just cut how much this book takes you out of your comfort zone.
By nature I’m the person who avoids conflict as much as possible but this book is everything I’m scared to voice.
It talks about a girl becoming a woman, how uncomfortable the woman’s
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Check full review here:
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that offers a glimpse into a world that I don't know about nor have I read that much about. It's painful, straightforward and talks about a lot of issues that are still as important as ever.

It starts off with Masechaba not knowing what the hell is happening with her female body and thinking that periods are disgusting and some sort of punishment. And from there the story takes place and shapes so much of her character. You get to read about her first intentions in choosing to
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, africa
"It's just a period South Africa's in. Growing pains."
"Like period pain," I said, trying to make a joke.
"Yeah. Like period pain."

Kopano Matlwa packs a lot into this deceptively small book—the South African health system, mental health, suicide, xenophobia, racism, immigration, activism, rape, faith, and of course the obvious female health issues. Some parts of the story are quite gruesome. I did find the journal entry style a bit annoying at times.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
More humorous and spirited than the synopsis makes it seem, but darker than the first two parts make it seem. A perfect length, each section its own struggle, fully developed on its own, and creating a striking picture altogether. A vibrant, emotional, proud protagonist is the fantastic center of this story about mental illness, healthcare, (disordered) menstruation, xenophobia, and rape in South Africa. Excited to find Spilt Milk and Coconut. (This seems to be the same book as Evening Primrose, ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harrowing, and painful. A quick, intense read.
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Podcast with Kopano Matlwa by Victor Dlamini (May 5th, 2008)
“Who said we had to enjoy caring for the ill? I mean one ought to do it, it's morally right to do it, but do you have an obligation to enjoy it? Would it make you a bad person if you said you detested it? Hated every minute o fit? Did it, but deplored it?” 0 likes
“How viscous our blood must be. It carries so much in it. Stories are swirling round and round our veins, up into our hearts at least a zillion times a day. Stories of men going into cities, men in men, men in women, women in men, children in women, men in children. Strangers living in each other's arteries, sharing intimacies, sharing pain, sharing anger, sharing hatred, sharing resentment, sharing loss.

Who are these terrorists that have invaded my blood, taken over my body?”
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