We dare not say
We Dare Not Say is an anthology of seven interlinked short stories with the general theme of intergenerational trauma among coloured families in Cape Town. The stories are arranged in a montage of internally, variably and externally focalised narratives that span over a century, from 1900 through to 2015, and are fictionalised accounts of real events, categorising them as biographical fiction. Some of the specific topics covered in the stories include incest, molestation, substance abuse, mental illness and humour as a coping mechanism. The body of work is conceived in the context of the twentieth century trauma narrative, the complexities of which run as undercurrents through most of the important English literary works created in South Africa since the 1800s up until John M. Coetzee, but which has often lacked a female perspective, especially women of colour. The stories in this volume aim to depict a group of people, who, through centuries of oppression in the form of serfdom, servitude and segregation, have developed various coping mechanisms to make sense of their own identity in an absurdly cruel social landscape. The stories focus on the inward turning of violence, substance abuse, silence and humour as survival mechanisms after generations of trauma that have been, in a sense, the hallmarks of coloured South Africa. The stories are told using a split narrative method, showing multiple viewpoints of the same story with perspectives ranging from young to old, crossing the gender divide in both time and space. Ultimately, We Dare Not Say, is a depiction of the complexities of lives lived under oppression, and the triumphs and challenges faced in trying to resolve, live through or deny the effects of such oppression on a group and the individuals that make up that group.