South African poet, short story writer and novelist Rešoketšwe Manenzhe traces the multiple perspectives of one troubled family's untethering in Scatterlings, her lyrical and devastating debut novel. Interracial married couple Abram and Alisa have a troubled marriage before South Africa's 1927 Immorality Act. But when the new Act criminalizes their union and their children, Alisa becomes more despondent than ever as Abram struggles to protect his family. Soon, Alisa makes a devastating decision that will forever alter their lives. And in the aftermath, Abram and his daughter Dido must navigate this new world together--and apart.
Manenzhe deftly weaves the divergent points of view and succeeds not only in depicting a complicated marriage trapped within impossible circumstances, but also in illuminating the systemic and generations-long forces at play in intimate relationships. By beginning primarily in Abram's perspective, readers share his horror at what Alisa is capable of. And yet with every added voice, the novel invites readers to become entangled in the baggage--interpersonal, cultural, economic and political--that Alisa and Abram's marriage carried, despite Abram's almost simplistic understanding of it. Although the novel never shies away from the heaviness of these complexities, particularly in Alisa's illuminating diary entries that flip the script of Abram's perception of their marriage, it also finds a tenderness in the trust that begins to build between Dido and her unlikely caretaker. Ultimately, Manenzhe's portrait of a family in crisis manages to speak to the often-unspeakable divides that underline race relations and marriage alike. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor