Colette Victor is a new author or, at least, new to me, and she is a joy to read. I first discovered her with “What to do with Lobsters in a Place Like Klippiesfontein”, which is a passionate account of life in the Rainbow Nation that is South Africa. This, too, is a story of the mixing of cultures, but it is quieter, much more gentle, although there is many a confrontation in the story. The tale is really about conflict resolution for each person, and how they have to make their own choices.
It is the story of Zeyneb, a young Turkish girl who is at school in an unnamed city in the UK. The location really does not matter. You can decide that. What is important is that there must be a Turkish community, and they must be mixing with other communities, and having to come to terms with what that means. Zeyneb has just had her first period, and has suffered the embarrassment of her mother, her Anne (pronounced Annay) in Turkish, ringing the whole family to tell them that her daughter is now a woman. This raises the whole question of headscarves, because there is to be a family wedding and Zeyneb and her mother have to go shopping to choose an outfit for her. So, there is now the need to make a decision about whether or not she should wear a headscarf.
But Zeyneb does not want to go shopping. She wants to go to her friend Kelly’s birthday party, which is to be a barbecue in a local park, with boys from their class present. And one boy in particular, Alex, is on Zeyneb’s mind. Also, Zeyneb’s teachers are encouraging her academic ambitions, and suggesting that she should consider applying to University in due course.
And so, there are all the ingredients present for a culture clash of monumental proportions. I am not going to give any further details, because that is the whole trajectory of the tale. The heart of the tale is how Zeyneb deals with her situation.
This is a tale told with great compassion and understanding. Colette Victor makes you believe that the storyteller is a newly-pubescent girl from a Turkish minority community. To me, who is neither female nor Turkish, it is wholly believable.
You will be charmed. And then you will want to read “What to do with Lobsters in a Place Like Klippiesfontein”.