I attended a book discussion and podcast recording with The Cheeky Natives for Sue Nyathi’s The Gold Diggers last month at Bridge Books. A discussion that convinced one to purchase the copy if you hadn’t bought one like I had done.
This is Sue’s sophomore book and I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read her debut novel, The Polygamist which will have a movie adaptation released in 2019. The Gold Diggers is written in a clear, and descriptive manner – and it is a page turner of note.
I found the beginning of each part with Bible verses quite interesting. Having been motivated by the 2008 Xenophobic attacks in South Africa – Sue mentioned in an interview, she would like readers to be empathetic as a take away from the book. Sue is right, we need to learn to be genuinely kind to others. Whether we know them or not- just show a little kindness and understanding for the next person.
Firstly, the book is about a group of passengers who are making their way to the big City of Gold – Johannesburg illegally from Zimbabwe on a white Toyota Quantum. They have all paid a high price to be going to what they believe, a better life from the Zimbabwe that’s going through an economic struggle. Each of them not knowing their fate, but hoping that they can make it through to the other side.
Sue takes us on a journey of each individual on the Quantum which sees us go through topical issues that affect us as Africans. The main topic isn’t really xenophobia as I noted – although there is a character that does experience xenophobic violence (this is me trying to not spoil this for the reader). We see one character which Dumisani, the ambitious young man go through lots of challenges believing that he will strike it rich. There is also, twins, Chamunorwa and Chenai who are running away from an act they did in their past. Then there’s Portia and Nkosi – a mother and son pair, who are looking to be reunited with husband and father, who only comes to Zimbabwe once a year. Sue touches on human and drug trafficking, drug abuse and unequal power roles. These are issues that people go through but one views them in a different light through Sue’s honest and bold writing. The reader learns that women and men coming into South Africa seeking a better life go through a lot to be here. Sue’s character development was also a highlight because she made it easy to get into each character’s role in the story, to feel empathy for each and every one of them. An overall great book, well researched and executed – and a well deserved 5 stars. PS: They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover – I confess that I had judged it by it’s stunning cover to be an amazing read – and it didn’t disappoint.
Title The Gold Diggers
Authors Sue Nyathi
Publisher Pan Macmillan South Africa