South Africa, Maverick Life

AmaBookaBooka: Jennifer, Queen of the Free State (Podcast)

By AmaBookaBooka 7 November 2017

This quirky and poignant memoir is a stirring read and a remarkable début. By JONATHAN ANCER.

Today’s AmaBookaBooka guest is the Queen of the Free State. She’s also Mamselle X, heroine of the French Resistance, and a vegetable-hating, frog-catching, dog-loving, piano-playing adventurer. She’s mischievous and inquisitive and while she may be a tough big sister – she’s a loyal friend.

Author Jennifer Friedman’s memoir Queen of the Free State is filled with laugh-out-loud funny stories (like the one about the blaspheming budgie) and stories that will make you cry (poor Sandy) about her childhood in the Orange Free State more than half a century ago.

The book is like a giant puzzle – each chapter is a self-contained story that is a piece of the puzzle. When all the chapters are put together you have a rich and poignant memoir about midnight escapes, banned comics, hideous encounters with bras, terrifying policemen, icy drives with Grandpa and growing up Jewish in a small town in the Orange Free State in the 1950s and 1960s. Friedman has captured extraordinary details – colours, smells, sights, tastes – that provide a front row seat to her childhood.

One of my favourite stories in the book is how Friedman hid a frog in her mouth – and if you were ever curious about what frog wee tastes like, you really should do yourself a favour and listen to this episode of AmaBookaBooka. (Actually, even if you aren’t curious about what frog wee tastes like, you should still do yourself a favour and listen to this episode – and buy the book.)

In this week’s Self-Publishing corner at the end of the episode, Dave Henderson talks about what it means to be a self-publishing author in Africa. Interested in self-publishing? Visit the website for regular news. DM


In other news...

The South African economy is choking harder than the Proteas. Although to be choking you have to actually be eating and the Proteas seem to be on some sort of juice cleanse-like fast…*

Back to the economy: In the first quarter the GDP dive-bombed by a whopping 3.2%. The sense of futility can paralyse us into inaction and moaning. But it’s times like these that call for effort and action, no matter how small. Yes, South Africa is hurting. Yes the ravaged economy is evident everywhere you look. But you can make a difference, in your own personal way and by supporting independent media like Daily Maverick. We’ve pledged to continue the fight through producing incisive and impactful investigations and analysis, the same way we have done every day for the last decade.

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*Proteas, you know we love you. We’d just love you more if you won occasionally...

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