Review: Kopano Matlwa - Coconut
3.5Overall Score

A book every young South African should read.

Plot: An important rumination on youth in modern-day South Africa, this haunting debut novel tells the story of two extraordinary young women who have grown up black in white suburbs and must now struggle to find their identities. The rich and pampered Ofilwe has taken her privileged lifestyle for granted, and must confront her swiftly dwindling sense of culture when her soulless world falls apart. Meanwhile, the hip and sassy Fiks is an ambitious go-getter desperate to leave her vicious past behind for the glossy sophistication of city life, but finds Johannesburg to be more complicated and unforgiving than she expected. These two stories artfully come together to illustrate the weight of history upon a new generation in South Africa.

Remarks: There’s a reason this book has become so popular. It speaks so clearly to so many women across the country and highlights the fact that so many black women seem to be losing their culture as they assimilate with ‘white culture’. Although this is a light-hearted read, it’s a book that will make you think and ask questions. While the writing can get a bit confusing at times, Kopano tells the story so well that you can instantly put yourselves in the shoes of the two main characters. The story tells an important lesson – strive to succeed and reach for the stars, but don’t forget where you came from and who you are. The new South Africa is still uncharted territory for today’s black youth and I think this is a book so many around the country will be able to identify with. These conversations are necessary and Kopano engages with her readers in an entertaining and engaging way. A fantastic debut novel.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published By: Jacana

Coconut is out now at all good book stores.

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