One of the primary reasons I love reading — and I’m not the first to say this — is the deep empathy reading about others’ experiences develops in ourselves. Scatterlings is such a novel that opens us up to new ways of understanding the past and the present, others and ourselves. This is a novel that will move you in many ways: to sadness, to fear, to loathing, to empowerment, to depression.
This is a novel in the vein of Beast of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala or The Bird Tattoo: A Novel by Dunya Mikhail. It is fiction of the very real, very tangible suffering in our world, albeit in a time now past (though, not gone, forgotten, or fully healed).
The novel is a historical fiction, taking place in South Africa as its racist, anti-black Apartheid policies began to ramp up. It revolves around the enforcement of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No. 55 of 1949, and the very real fall out in people’s lives.
The scattered are the wives, husbands, and children of these mixed-race marriages, suddenly made illegal in the eyes of the law. The novel traces the actions of a family and what they each individually must do to survive this.
The outcomes are tragic, but the reader who chooses this subject matter is one who understands that to witness is a step towards reparation.