I was given a copy of Zululand Snow to read and review. The category YA (Young Adult) can be restrictive, these days brilliant books of mass appeal such as Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird and even Catcher in the Rye would fall into this category and below the radar of some adult readers, simply because the central characters are youths. Zululand Snow may be marketed as a ‘boy book’ or ‘YA fiction’ potentially excluding me as a woman somewhat removed from youth. Categorisation aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
South African literature is on an upward trajectory. In the past I viewed the majority of South African literature as ‘heavy’ and ‘hard work’. Yes, there were brilliant authors such as JM Coetzee, Andre Brink and Nadine Gordimer but light South African reads were thin on the ground. Now we have an ever increasing number of world class authors such as Deon Meyer and Lauren Beukes to name only two, who thrill and entertain. Ian Tennent’s entry into this arena is another instance of local being lekker.
The story of three boys adventures maintains page turning tension. Familiar places and slang have the warmth of home, rendering the reading experience as comfortable as a hammock strung between acacia trees. The sense of familiarity is enhanced by references to things like cyclone Demonia and 32 Battalion. The big crush of my youth, the bad boy ‘Spartacus‘ was scarred for life serving in 32 Battalion. Readers unfamiliar with Zululand and South Africa will appreciate the glimpse into our special world, as they travel through time and history between these pages.
If I had to choose a soundtrack to Zululand Snow it would probably be music by Johnny Clegg and Jaluka. I felt that some loose ends remained at the end of the book, not enough to niggle but sufficient to ensure that I follow up by reading Zululand Gold.