Winner of the Johannesburg Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize for Nonfiction
Discover a people's enduring power through the inspiring life of a fascinating woman.
Critical acclaim for The Calling of Katie Makanya
"A very marvelous and precious document. . . . It is a magnificent story superbly told. The combination of Katie's extraordinary life and McCord's immense talent as a storyteller is overwhelming. I found it compulsive reading and deeply moving." Athol Fugard.
"I fell in love with the Delaney sisters, enjoying both the book and the play. It is good to know their sister in Africa also has her say, that Katie's life, too, can be shared." Nikki Giovanni.
"To know the story of Katie Makanya is to feel the pain and promise of life for blacks in South Africa for generations." Detroit Free Press.
"Emotionally compelling, resonantly detailed, and of extraordinary cultural significance." Kirkus Reviews.
This life story of a black South African woman who died in 1955 at age 83 recently won major prizes in South Africa. Indeed, for South African readers, Makanya's story restores dignity and identity to a generation-and gender-of South Africans often ignored by history; moreover, the tale is told loyally and lovingly by the daughter of the white doctor for whom Katie toiled diligently as an interpreter. However, American audiences undeterred by the book's style-which is full of novelistic dialogue-may find it interesting but less compelling, as the emphasis on narrative sacrifices some context. At 17, Katie went to England with a black choir for more than two years, and despite the racism she encountered, emerged strengthened after meeting a black West African woman who ridiculed a white minister's prejudiced explanation of racial difference. Back in South Africa, her story encompasses courtship, marriage, family life and a career as a translator between African languages (and traditions) and the English of white South Africa. Even before the racist laws were intensified under apartheid in 1948, Makanya and other Africans protested unjust laws such as the pass system and formed a women's group to organize the black community. Thus this unheralded woman brims with a sense of justice. (Mar.)