Here's a bit from "The Meeting," the heart-pounding short story by Margie Orford that opens the Bad Company collection of South African crime writing:
Claire Hart turned off the freeway, the off-ramp sinking her into Khayelitsha, Cape Town's teeming shadow city sprawling unmapped across the sand dunes south of the airport. The houses, makeshift cubes of corrugated iron and wood, roofed with black plastic, homed half a million people, maybe a million. No one was counting.Roger Smith sees Cape Town in similar terms in his novel Wake Up Dead, where the city's dangerous Flats have resolved themselves into antagonistic territories defined by gang rule:
A woman in a Muslim headscarf scuttled across the road, carrying a plastic shopping bag and a tub of Kentucky chicken, and disappeared into Dark City. Otherwise the road was empty and silent.Dark cities, shadow cities, alternative cities. Sounds something like those dirty towns Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett used to write about, doesn't it?
As always, read up on the latest South African crime writing at the Crime Beat site, including a discussion of Orford's novel Daddy's Girl.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010