Cape Town-based author Dr Adheesh Budree explores issues of identity and inclusion in “Inheritance“, which is set to launch at the Durban International Book Fair, this Friday, August 4.
“Inheritance“ is a coming-of-age novel based on the search for belonging and finding one’s place no matter how familiar or foreign it may be.
With his mother’s business in shambles, and an untraceable accountant who has disappeared with their life savings, the piece of land in India willed to Ash by his estranged paternal grandfather is an unexpected but welcome boon. Or so he thought.
Delhi is nothing that Ash, a South African Indian “born free” from an upper-middle-class background, could have been prepared for. With not being able to speak the language or understand the culture, while he may look the part, he is very much an outsider in the crowd.
The plan was simple though. Keep his head down, get the paperwork done, sell the land, and get out with a bank account bursting at the seams. But it turned out that India had other plans for Ash.
Between bribing a government official, getting lost in the middle of the night in a strange city, finding connections with people in the most unlikely places, riding his first motorcycle, and falling in love, Ash’s journey evolves into one of self-discovery and enlightenment.
IOL Entertainment spoke to Budree, a fiction writer who holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, about his new body of work.
“The book is about a young South African guy of Indian descent. He travels to India to find his roots and the only reason he is doing it is so that he can qualify for his inheritance, which came out of nowhere,” said Budree,
“The idea behind it is very much a situation of, even though he looks the part, he kind of sticks out, you know, in the crowd…he doesn't quite fit in.
“The book explores or reinforces a sense of belonging. Where do you actually belong? Is it the way you look? Is it the language that you speak? Is it the clothes that you wear?
“One of our data readers… a Kenyan lady, who is editing the book for me, once said to me, ‘this book resonates with me ’, and I asked her, ‘how so?’
“And she said, ‘As a black person walking around in Cape town, people come up to me and they start talking to me in isiXhosa or isiZulu and expecting me to just fit the part. And assuming… they’ve got their own perception of who I am before actually getting to know who I am.
“And she finds herself having to apologise each time, saying, ‘sorry, I actually don't understand the language, which is a statement I use in the book quite often…it's a recurring theme of, sorry, I don't understand Hindi.’ And the responses are ‘ but you look Indian.’”
On why he thinks South Africans would enjoy the book, Budree said: “I'm trying to push the idea of making reading available to everybody. So, with the style of the book and the way it's written, it’s an easy read.
“We find that this has become more popular across the world but it's not something that we find very often in South Africa, to have a book that you can pick up and read over a day or two days but also doesn't cost you an arm and a leg.
“And what is important to me also is if you look at African history, you look at, Asian, subcontinent history, a lot of it was based on storytelling.
“And it’s important that we have these types of books because we forget to tell our stories. We forget that our history has been passed down from generation to generation by telling these stories.
“If we are not telling stories and if people aren't sharing stories, we're losing something that's so fundamentally part of who we are as South Africans.”
Budree added that he is most looking forward to interacting with fellow authors and readers alike.
“I”m looking forward to meeting people who have a passion for reading, people who have a passion for literature. I believe the fair is bringing people together with that common interest.
“The fact that Durban has been classified as a Unesco literature city, is phenomenal because events like this are all about pushing the idea of literacy, reading and sharing of information.”
While the book is currently only available in India, the ebook is available worldwide. The paperback will be made available in all book stores nationwide, later this month.
The Durban International Book Fair is currently underway at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom until August 7.