Disclaimer: Born Free-Loaders was kindly sent to me by Pan Macmillan SA in exchange for an honest review.
Born on the cusp of democracy, the crew of young friends in Born Freeloaders navigates a life of drinking, wild parties and other recklessness. The siblings at the centre of the novel, Nthabiseng and Xolani, have been raised in an upper middle-class family with connections to the political elite. Nthabiseng is lauded by her peers as she whimsically goes through life, unable to form her own identity in a world that expects her to pick a side in the fractured classifications of race. Xolani, not having known his late father, longs for acceptance from an uncle who sees him and his generation as the bitter fruit borne of a freedom he and countless others fought for.
As the story moves across multiple spaces in the nation’s capital over a weekend, Born Freeloaders captures a political and cultural moment in the city’s and South Africa’s history. Interwoven is an analogous tale of the country’s colonisation and the consequences that follow. And alongside the friends’ uneasy awareness of their privilege is a heightened sense of discomfort at their inability to change the world they were born into.
My Thoughts or Review
From the title, my interest was really sparked as we don’t get to read from perspectives of people or teenagers in this case who never experienced the brutality that our parents went through during apartheid. With that I expected a bit of ignorance when it comes to other issues.
Pikoli’s characters are so different which captivates interest in the reader. We have cases of identity and acceptance which I think was dealt with perfectly for the story to tie in together at the end.
I must say that I was not really attached to these characters and their stories as I would have liked to. I guess it also made me realize how old I am when I got confused about the language used 😭😅🤣.
There is something interesting about reading a book set in a place you know of. Because it is much more easier to relate to and you can visualize easily because you’ve seen these places a thousand times.
South Africa is a diverse country with 11 official languages. One thing I found so hard whilst reading was deciphering meanings behind sentences written in languages I know nothing about. It would have been nice to have an English explanation next to each phrase so to be inclusive. However, I get why its written like that at times, because it portrays diversity in the characters but when its used so often it can be a challenge.
Overall, it was a good read I’d highly recommend.
Have you read this book or anything by the author? Let us know in the comments section.
Until next time