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Debut by Shaida Kazie Ali: Not a Fairy Tale

Not a Fairy TaleNot a Fairytale is a wonderful, unusual book set in an Indian Muslim community. This debut by Shaida Kazie Ali tells the story of two Cape Town sisters, interspersed with fairytales with a modern spin and even a recipe or two…

Salena, the older sister, is light-skinned and demure, an easy one to marry off to a husband of her parents’ choosing. Zuhra is dark and wilful, refusing tradition and leaving the country in pursuit of her own destiny.

The shoots of their lives grow apart and interlace again. Salena finds herself in a repressive marriage much like her mother’s. Zuhra comes to suspect grim undercurrents to both their lives, which she expresses by retelling familiar fairytales, often hilariously, in a Muslim framework.

But this is not a fairytale. The dark forest is real, and so are its secrets

from Not a Fairy Tale

Faruk-Paruk calls me worsie lippe. I hate him. I wish he would die. He doesn’t know, but I saw him bury his comics outside in the back yard. First, he put them in black rubbish bags and then he dug a hole to bury the bags because he doesn’t want me to read them. Why would I? I hate silly Superman. I mean, he’s got blue hair. How stupid is that? But I hate Faruk-Paruk more. When is he going to grow up? He’s old now. Seventeen. If you say his name fast enough, with lots of rrrrrrs, it sounds like a frog croaking. Farrrrukparrruk. I think he is a frog, or a toad. Something slimy and cold.

I wish Salena wasn’t getting married today, because my rose-pink dress is turning red as my nose drips drops of blood onto the lap of my skirt. I’m too scared to move. I don’t want Ma to see that I’ve messed on my skirt. I don’t want a hiding on Salena’s wedding day.

About the author

Shaida Kazie Ali has worked as an English tutor for distance learning students and has lectured in Tourism Studies. She is currently working at the alternative admissions department of the University of Cape Town. Married with two children, she lives in Cape Town. Her work has appeared in Women Flashing and Writing the Self. Not a Fairy Tale is her first novel.

Book details


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    August 23rd, 2010 @10:04 #

    I read Not a Fairytale while it was in production and I really enjoyed it. It's domestic fiction with guts and spunk and wisdom and great recipes, another tile in the brilliant mosaic South African writers are building. A highly recommended book from a remarkably confident new voice.


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