- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Emblem Editions (May 10 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0771077971
- ISBN-13: 978-0771077975
- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.1 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 431 g
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #338,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Water Man's Daughter Paperback – May 10 2011
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"[An] assured debut . . . beautifully tense . . . at heart a morality tale."
"Ruby-Sachs brings her setting and its cast vibrantly to life: the parching heat, night-time chills, the dirt tracks and clinging Soweto dust, the families living in near-poverty yet touchingly house-proud, while their civic officials boast charmless mansions and giant plasma TVs. . . . [The final] 40 pages . . . gather up the story's themes and plot strands in ways completely unexpected, and exhilarating."
—Globe and Mail
"Ruby-Sachs has set herself an impressive agenda for a first novel . . . most notably her ripped-from-the headlines plot, authentic setting, and lively dialogue sprinkled with Zulu words and phrases."
"[An] impressive debut. . . . Plays like a classic whodunit, but its mystery involves how much we really know about others -- especially those people we think we know best."
—Quill & Quire
About the Author
EMMA RUBY-SACHS's journalism has been published in The Nation and The Huffington Post. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Toronto law school, Ruby-Sachs lived in South Africa for periods in 2003 and 2004 while studying. She has worked as a civil litigator in Windsor and Toronto and currently works with Avaaz, a progressive online organization. Emma lives in Brooklyn.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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It is the story of a Canadian, Peter Matthews who is CEO of a controversial water privatization project who after arriving in South Africa is murdered. His 21 year old daughter Claire comes to South Africa determined to find out what happened to her father. Zembe Afrika, a policewoman is in charge of the investigation and wants Claire out of her way. She pressures a young anti-privatization activist, Nomsulwato to be Claire's escort. Gradually both women find themselves drawn together in spite of their differences.
This book is very well written and holds your interest from beginning to end.
I enjoyed this book immensely and can highly recommend it.
Ruby-Sachs's sympathies are with her South African characters: they are vividly and believably presented. As readers we can visualize them within their local environment, preoccupied by challenges, economical as well as personal. Nomsulwa "feels ancient, part of a thousand generations of women who fought for their community." The author captures her beautifully, caught as she is between community needs and law and order requirements. Her counterpart, Zembe Africa, the local police officer, is similarly torn between, on the one hand, her duty to pursue the pipe thieves and, on top of that, a murder enquiry and, on the other, her sense of belonging to and empathy with the community's problems and Nomsulwa's personal dilemma. For reasons that will be clear pretty early on, she pairs Nomsulwa with Claire: the local woman as the driver and "chaperone" for the "white girl". Can they even communicate? And what could be the outcome?
Ruby-Sachs, a lawyer by training and profession, has set herself a major challenge with her first novel: how to bring an explosive political issue, such as the privatization of water supply to poor communities in Africa, convincingly into a fictional setting and blend its treatment into a novel that engages the reader, beyond its central issues. While the murder mystery provides a useful frame for her novel, its narrative strength lies with the depiction of her South African characters, their environment and the deeper problems they confront. Conscious, no doubt, of not overwhelming the reader with her underlying concerns, the author relies on the interested reader to pick up on the numerous references and allusions in the text to delve deeper into the topics that preoccupy her beyond her fictional writing. [Friederike Knabe]
When Claire, "the water man's daughter," arrives in grief to seek answers about her father's killing, Nomsulwa, as a return favour to the police, acts as a diversionary local host. And, with Mira and his gang among the murder suspects, plot lines develop and intersect. As Nomsulwa attempts to reconcile her disdain for corporate North America with her growing sympathy for Claire, the two women bond over the realities of loss and oppression.
Ruby-Sachs creates a vibrant setting and finely evokes most of her characters; parching heat, nightly chills, and lingering dust enhance the juxtaposition between house-proud families living poverty and civic officials in charmless mansions. Nomsulwa comes across as three-dimensional, proactive and relatable whereas, ironically, Claire emerges as the weakest character: confused, naive and flaky.
Despite lapses in realism, such as major oversights by Johannesburg's police homicide squad and extremely lax hotel security, "The Water Man's Daughter" ultimately ties together themes and plot lines in unexpected, exhilarating ways that manage to eschew complete redemption in favour of highlighting the human cost of systemic inequity.
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