This book is pretty uninspiring in terms of plot, since it is a first person tale set mainly in the environs of a hire purchase shop in Soweto, specializing in radio rentals. Muriel works as a clerk there, and details here interactions with a range of colourful characters, including her boss, and the other workers, with repossessions a recurring theme.

It soon becomes clear, though, that the repossessions are mainly from the black customers, while white customers, however creditworthy in practice, receive favourable treatment, and amid significant discrepancies in interest charges for white and black customers.

The power of the book then is in its clear-eyed, matter-of-fact detailing of the racist system that prevailed under the apartheid regime during the 1960s, at the most mundane and everyday level.

Remarkable too is the fact that the book was published at all. It was the first work of fiction (more accurately perhaps ‘fiction’) to be published by a black South African woman, initially in a substantially redacted form; it was banned in South Africa until the late 1980s.

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    1. The Convenience Store Woman? Is that the one? I loved that! Though that one was a grocery store I think, so maybe you’re thinking of another? I’m quite fond of a shop too!


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