I settled down to do a little light reading at about half past nine on a Friday night, having collected the book from Chatsworth Education Centre earlier in the day.
The laid- back style, the simple language and the uncomplicated plot, did indeed make it a very easy read. But it was these very same factors that drew me into the book, so much so that I only became aware of the time, when I turned the last page at around one o’ clock the next morning.
Without me even being conscious of it, I just couldn’t stop turning the pages, eager to follow the narrative, drawn in by his conversational style of story- telling.
Whether it is his disappointments and frustrations, or his elation, both are shared as a matter of fact. No whining nor boasting. This is very important as it stops the book from becoming an exercise in self-aggrandizement.
Another saving grace of this book is the fact that it is not about the author. At every stage, we are constantly reminded of the need to get the Title-Deed. So even though it is a story about the author, it is not just his story, the struggle to get the title deed echoes through every page.
It is for these reasons that I believe that WHEN THE CHALK IS DOWN should be recommended reading in our schools. It should not be received as an “Indian” story, because it is not that. It is a story that transcends politics and race and takes its place in our literary landscape as a South African story.