Tales of the Metric System, by Imraan Coovadia
Simple in concept, complex in construction, a novel which is so much more than the sum of its parts, one which purports to examine the randomness of life while delicately drawing the eye to the butterfly effect of individual acts and exposing the interconnectedness of people. In pristine prose and with a telling eye for detail, Imraan Coovadia's novel, Tales of the Metric System, leaves the reader with a sense of having undertaken a journey through the familiar only to arrive somewhere completely new.
[...] For a moment Ann thought Mackenzie was going to put his hand on her shoulder. Instead he placed it on the bonnet of the car. - It's the salt in the air. The same engine that runs for five years in London may only survive eighteen months out here. But your husband must see to the maintenance. - I'll tell him. - Get in and release the handbrake. This fellow will push you to the top and you can start the engine. Coming back you should be fine. The battery will charge on the motorway. Mackenzie's man, as old as he was, started to push, the thick brown veins standing out on his dark arms. He began to perspire immediately, his body shining, and allowed the car to stop at the top of the road. The engine caught on the downhill. By the time she went past the Caltex garage the car was moving fast. To see Mackenzie's servant in the mirror, standing exhausted in the road, reminded Ann that she had never learned the man's name. She wasn't sure of her own. From her first husband she was Ann Rabie. She had once been Ann Bowen, whose father, commodore in the Royal Navy, met her mother at a ball during shore leave in Durban. For some reason which lay between herself and Neil she had never completed the switch to Ann Hunter. In town, she parked near Greenacres. The shop assistants were dressing the plaster-of-Paris mannequins in the window, holding pins in their mouths as they went over the clothes. Something to do with the wirework and the gluey brush strokes on the dummies' arms disturbed Ann. They would hex the car. After her conversation with Lavigne, she would have to wait in their papier-mache company until the truck arrived from the Automobile Association. She hurried. Her son Paul had been caught with alcohol on the school grounds. Curzon College was strict. The penalty could be as severe as a suspension for the whole of Michaelmas term. Lavigne represented the school board. In his first letter home, Paul said Lavigne defined College as a place where punctuality came second to godliness. She couldn't afford to be twenty minutes late. She went past the telephone booths occupied by white men and women. The newsagent was setting out the overseas newspapers, his blue shirt rolled up above the elbow. The shops sold signs and flags claiming the province of Natal as the last outpost of the British Empire. Curzon College was a school of the same empire, attracting the sons of factory owners and Midlands farmers, members of the United Party who proposed extending the franchise to educated Bantus, Durban lawyers and bank managers. Ann found Lavigne at the entrance of the Royal Hotel. He was compact in the shoulders, wearing a gold-buttoned blazer, grey trousers, and black shoes, which she imagined him brushing as fiercely as his teeth. [...]
This is an excerpt from the novel: Tales of the Metric System, by Imraan Coovadia.
Title: Tales of the Metric System
Author: Imraan Coovadia
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781415207239 / ISBN 978-1-4152-0723-9
Hardcover, dustjacket, 15 x 22 cm, 400 pages
Coovadia, Imraan im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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