The book Kaffir Boy doesn’t pull any punches. From the very first chapter, Mark Mathabane’s autobiography grips the reader with vivid and gripping depictions of the squalor and poverty he faced growing up in the shanty town of Alexandria, South Africa. He fills chapter after chapter with engrossing accounts of the hell on earth he lived in, but the book manages the stunning feat of not feeling overly depressing, as he sprinkles in just enough moments of hope to keep the emotions of the reader at a bearable level. He also has a conversational style that draws the reader in and makes the book seem very real. He combines that style with short, to the point chapters that give the book a “popcorn” feel. The fact that this is an autobiography makes it even more effective because you realize that all of these things actually happened, which is better than a book like Cry the Beloved Country, where it is a fictional depiction of what South Africa is like from an outsider’s point of view. Kaffir Boy is an excellent and gripping autobiography that brings the experience of living in South Africa to you and me. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an autobiography to read.
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
June 6, 2010