Richard's Reviews > The Madams

The Madams by Zukiswa Wanner
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's review
Oct 10, 2007

liked it
Recommended for: Madams and maids

Mildly Confused by The Madams

(Why do you insist on provoking me?)

Dear Zukiswa,

I have white servants. They’re from Bulgaria and they’re mine two hours a week. They come in at 8.30, reduce our chaos to neat, little piles, clean around them, and then leave quietly. I don’t think either of them is sleeping with my wife, and I’m convinced neither of them (they’re a married couple) has any desire to sleep with me. However, if I were to impregnate Danica, I’m pretty sure my wife would not travel to Sofia to claim the child on our behalf. She’d slice my nads off and send me packing, and she’d make my life a living hell if I failed to pay for the upkeep of my little Dutch-Bulgarian bastard, but she would never feel she had the right to claim another woman’s child.

All of which brings me to your book, which (un)fortunately did not provoke me as wildly as the cover promised. It did raise a lot of questions, but I’ll try to restrain myself here: Do women like your Thandi and Siz and Lauren really exist in South Africa? And if so, do they think and act in this way? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not asking if they’re based on real people; I’d like to know whether the circumstances and characters accurately reflect a subset of South African society. If so, these new black madams (who I obviously don’t know very well) look a helluva lot like the old white madams (who I know all too well).

Is that where the provocation lies? That a misplaced and misguided sense of superiority is not restricted to a particular race (although we whiteys have done our best to corner the market)? That exploitation of one class by another is driven by a universal urge to subjugate others for our own ends or convenience? Or am I reading too much into it? Has your publisher’s desire to provoke led me astray? Or am I so far removed from your target audience that I am totally missing the point?

Whatever the case may be, I’d like sit down and get some answers sometime. But please don’t invite Thandi and Siz and Lauren, because they frighten me and keep drinking my cocktails and laughing behind my back, acting all superior.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
October 10, 2007 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Hussaina Gambo The only review worth reading on this book. Every time I come to goodreads to read critical analysis of books, I always am hit by how shallow people's thinking can be. But that's by the way. My critique of the book is mainly on the protagonist, Thandi and how I couldn't see past her self centredness to enjoy the book. In Sizwe(and Zukiswa)'s defence though, as an African, childless one at that(Let's avoid the word barren), I get her behaviour about going to get the seed of her husband's affair. Like I said before, Thandi's know- all attitude and feeling of superiority did not leave room for much enjoyment of the story. If you have not read Zukiswa's recent book, I recommend it. It's so much better.

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