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Fourteen New Short Stories from Zoë Wicomb: The One That Got Away

The One that Got AwayZoe WicombThe title of Zoë Wicomb’s much-anticipated second collection of short stories – The One That Got Away – provides a key to its underlying theme: the interconnectedness of people, however tenuous. The fourteen stories, set mainly in Cape Town and Glasgow, Scotland (where Wicomb lives) are peopled with a range of characters who, as they move between continents, often find themselves ill at ease, displaced or disillusioned even as they are shown small kindnesses by total strangers.

The expectations created by Wicomb’s debut collection, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, are more than fulfilled in The One That Got Away. Whether they portray marriage, friendships, family ties or relations with servants – or touch on issues of representation in writing and visual art – these new stories glint with intelligence, insight, wit and humour. At the same time, they undermine their own realism through ironic twists and subtle shifts that leave every situation open to the reader’s interpretation.

The One That Got Away is a book that startles by presenting us with the recognisable while simultaneously undermining long-held certainties.

“Seductive, precious and brilliant.”
– Toni Morrison

About the author

Zoë Wicomb was born in Namaqualand but has been living in United Kingdom since the 1970s, except for a four-year stint at the University of the Western Cape in the nineties. She is currently both Professor in the Department of English Studies at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, and Visiting Professor Extraordinaire at Stellenbosch University. She is the author of You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town (originally published in London by Virago in 1987 and published in South Africa for the first time by Umuzi, earlier this year), and of the novels David’s Story (Kwela, 2002) and Playing in the Light (Umuzi, 2006)

Book Details


Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    September 4th, 2008 @13:21 #

    Wicomb got a carrot from David Pike at the weekend, but one that's too short to feature in our reviews round up. You can read it here:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    September 4th, 2008 @16:49 #

    I gave it a bit of a stringy carrot at Boeke Insig; but they don't have it online, alas.

    Most of the review (350 words) were spent on summary and some focus on characters and a favourite story. The stringy bit is in the last, short paragraph:

    "Maar ek is onseker oor die onewe kwaliteit van die verhale. Dikwels het ek self tussen verhalingsraaisels verdwaal: ek moes terugblaai om tydswisselings te vind, om dubbelsinnige voornaamwoord-gebruik op te klaar, of om verbouereerd te wonder of die “loose ends” in stories deel uitmaak van ‘n postmodernistiese ope-slot verhaaltrant. In terme van produksie-waardes, dink ek die boek benodig ook ‘n meer strawwe proeflees."

    English: "But the stories are uneven. Most often I found myself engaged in narrative riddles, backtracking to find shifts in time, or to clear up ambiguous pronoun referents, or wondering whether the loose ends are equivalent to post-modern, open-ended narrative techniques. I also find that the book needs a more rigorous proofreading."


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