Simultaneously a family memoir and a slice of South African history, this book is that rare thing: a beleaguered community in turbulent times seen through a young couple’s struggle for self-realisation and fulfillment.
It’s about the particular hurdles that face an Indian/Coloured family in their search to find a more dignified space in which to live, grow and thrive. Starting with the grandfathers −the Indian deck-passenger who reaches Cape Town in 1914, sells fruit off a street handcart and ten years later establishes a silk bazaar. And the illegitimate child of a daughter of the Italian House of Orsini, born in secrecy, who was sent to a convent in Cape Town and raised as a foster son of a coloured fishing family.
Through the journeys of three generations Carim’s story offers insights into aspects of the lives of ordinary people during the transition years from colonialism to apartheid. The style is engaging, the dialogue lucid and authentic; rewarding the reader with vivid action and imagery. Its title Coolie, Come Out and Fight! is devastatingly honest and redolent of South Africa in the 1950s and 60s.
Mac Carim tells the story of his family, thrown by fate and history into extraordinary circumstances, with tangible warmth, but also with unswerving realism. Above all, his memoir is filled with the transmuting magic and poignancy of memory. – Darryl Accone
The extraordinary life of Mac and Hajoo Carim resonates with the power of self-belief, steel-tipped elbows and quiet strength. A story of lace curtains in the ghettoes and of how to take life by the horns and live it well. Inspiring! – Ferial Haffajee
Retrospection is always beguiling. In this way, Carim takes readers on an intriguing story of his early life, beginning on the wrong side of South Africa’s racial divide and ending with the beginning of a new life in Nigeria. A remarkable read. – David Robbins