Book looks at effects of violence

Salt River Heritage Society hosted the book launch of Grace - a novel. From left are executive members, Warda Rahim, Dr Yusuf Lalkhen, Kulsum Viljoen, author Dr Barbara Boswell, Waseela Everson, Nadia Agherdine and Lutfi Omar.

The Salt River Heritage Society (SRHS) hosted a book launch for Salt River resident, Dr Barbara Boswell last Friday March 13.

Dr Boswell, 47, whose book is titled Grace – a novel, shared details of her book with SRHS and the community at the Daroel Ielm Institute in Salt River.

Grace – a novel is a fictional story about intimate partner violence and the intergenerational effects of it on one family.

“Set against the backdrop of the turbulent 1980s in South Africa, it shows how both personal and political violence intersects in the lives of one family,” she said.

Dr Boswell,who is an Associate Professor of English Literature at UCT, specialises in black South African women’s writing, African feminisms, and post-colonial
feminism says she grew up in a home with domestic violence and wanted to tell a fictional story about how violence functions in our society.

“The book aims to make readers aware about the nature of intimate violence and how it operates in the private space of the home,” she says.

Even though this book was released in 2017, Dr Boswell believes that the book is even more relevant today.

“Violence against women has only increased in our country, the book highlights that nothing has changed – in fact, in 2019 there was a spate of horrific femicides where men killed their partners,” she said.

Dr Boswell uses this book as a tool in high schools to workshop awareness of gender-based violence.

Dr Yusuf Lalkhen, chairperson of the SRHS, says his organisation is interested in preserving memory and allowing community voices to be heard and Dr Boswell’s novel was important to share with the Salt River community.

“Dr Boswell’s book captures a story of a young girl growing up in Cape Town during the turbulent 1980s; it’s against this backdrop that she reflects on the scourge of domestic violence in families uprooted by the Group Areas Act and finding themselves isolated and vulnerable,” he said.

Dr Lalkhen says the topic of the book is still relevant today as the country endured multiple trauma going back many years.

“Dr Boswell’s book speaks primarily to a young audience, struggling to find meaning and a sense of self, sexuality, society, and how to live a life in harmony with others,” he said.

All proceeds from the books that were sold on the evening went towards SRHS whom Dr Boswell says is doing important heritage and conservation work in our communities.

“They’re building our community and I want to be part of that in any way I can as it is important
to preserve the history of Salt River in an age of gentrification,” she said.

In September, Dr Boswell will be releasing her new book titled, And Wrote My Story Anyway: Novels by Black South African Women, which is an academic book sketching the history of black South African women’s writing of fiction.