"More, please" - Chrizelda Kekana reviews Fred Khumalo's 'Talk of the Town'

Fred Khumalo's stories are as familiar as the boy or girl next door, allowing you in - but leaving you wanting more, writes Chrizelda Kekana

26 May 2019 - 00:00 By CHRIZELDA KEKANA

Published in the Sunday Times: 26/05/2019

Talk of the Town ****
Fred Khumalo
Kwela, R260

Every one of the short stories in this book is worth reading. Fred Khumalo's penmanship is something to marvel at and his Talk of the Town is super entertaining. In fact, the only problem is that they are too short - these stories should have longer versions available somewhere.

Khumalo's stories cover topics such as xenophobia, township life, post-apartheid life in SA and living abroad.

They transport you across time zones and from one place to another. Some will leave you nostalgic, while others will make you feel like you need to travel more.

But what Khumalo does best is write these stories to make them seem familiar. You know these people.

In "Ancestral Voices", the character Fikile is just like your "boujee" cousin showing off from overseas; and in "The Invisibles", Guz-Magesh is the uncle who is always drunk and has a bucket-load of stories to tell.

In "Learning to Love", Vusi is a South African student in the US who, despite all efforts, is failing to find someone to have sex with in this new country, even though he had a girlfriend for each day of the week at home.

Khumalo's description is so vivid one can almost see Vusi sitting on that bus, practising his best American accent so he can successfully approach a woman. Vusi's story takes an unexpected turn though ...

Some of the characters feel like people you really want to know, like Queenface in the eponymous titled story. Zimbabwe-educated, she's a street-smart go-getter who sticks in your head long after you have finished reading her story. I couldn't stop wondering if she managed to escape Major-General Chenjerai before she was sold as a slave to the Congolese.

This is why we need these amazing stories to be longer. We need more. Please. @Chrizelda_kay