Monday, 27 September 2010
Kathryn Stockett - The Help
Once again we were extremely lucky to get copies of this from the publishers for use by our reading groups. This book led to a lively discussion and it is no surprise that this is a bestseller both here and in the US.
We all had to keep reminding ourselves that this book is set in the 1960s and as such it is really shocking. Set in Mississippi USA this is the story of a black maid and the treatment of these 'servants' by the white majority of the town of Jackson. It is truly disturbing. More so I think as it makes South Africa at the time look almost reasonable, at least they openly declared apartheid. According to this book, in a nation that prides itself on being the 'land of the free' there was a strong underclass that clearly were not. It certainly to us Europeans gives us some insight into Martin Luther King and what happened to him.
I have to admit that at first I was rather uncomfortable with the fact that this was written by a white woman with a 'black' voice and was grateful that she had written something about this at the back. It might have been more useful perhaps at the beginning.
I do wonder though, where are the black authors of the US, why are they not writing about this, as does say Andrea Levy in the UK? Do they have a voice or are they just not exported and published in Europe or are they but do not become bestsellers?
A powerful book, one that is excellent for reading groups, the discussion will go on and on.........