by Hagen Engler (Jacana) ISBN 978-1-4314-2376-7
"How to be white when you’re no longer centre of attention? When you no longer even matter? How to be white when everyone’s patience runs out? Disco Dave is a South African hipster on the Port Elizabeth social scene, such as it is. His dreams of media moguldom evaporate before his eyes as the scene becomes overwhelmingly blacker and his understanding of it more tenuous. Hard-up for bucks, he moves into the maid’s room on his property and rents out the main house. Sizwe arrives and swiftly sets about taking over Disco’s life…. ” – In The Maid’s Room
In The Maid’s Room took me by surprise. In just 52 hours, I was taken to a world not so far from the reality I live, where people constantly strive to find relevance and fit into an ever-changing world. The challenges our hero, Disco faces are a reality most of us face every day.
As much as racism and ‘white entitlement’ is a sensitive topic, Engler manages to skirt past these issues with rib-cracking humour throughout the novel. The only negative was the amount of profanity he used. The sleeve notes could do with a note on the explicit language. You need to read the novel with an open mind to get past this.
This novel allowed me to experience everything though Disco’s mind, although I did struggle to catch on to all the references. In The Maid’s Room is an important lesson on how to view life. This is an interesting perspective we need from local writers.