Never before published in South Africa, the ten interconnected stories of You Can’t Get Lost In Cape Town – presented here in a slightly revised edition – comprise one of the most distinguished works of South African literature. The book portrays a young coloured woman’s coming of age in apartheid South Africa, spanning the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s. The stories reflect the search of many coloured South Africans for identity in a harshly hierarchical society where white was held above coloured and coloured above black.
In a timeless narrative constructed of vivid episodes that span almost thirty years in the protagonist’s life, the book details Frieda Shenton’s coming of age as a woman; and as a writer. In telling Frieda’s story, Zoë Wicomb explores class, race, gender and culture.
It is only as Frieda finds the courage to tell her “terrible stories” – working through her tangled feelings for her family, her heritage, her country and her art – that she can at last begin to create her own place in a world where she has always felt herself an exile.