‘A long time ago, before I had breasts, sense or a husband, I knew one day I would die in New York. I must have been no more than twelve and the jacaranda trees were about to burst into their lilac-coloured song. I’d never been to New York. Actually I’d never been out of our northern Johannesburg suburb, except for my monthly visits to Doctor Sydney Malema.’ – From Dying in New York
Dying in New York is the haunting story of Lerato Malema, a young and irrepressible South African whose wit and resilience shine through despite the abuse she has endured from before the age of twelve at the hands of her father, Thabo.
The narrative opens in a psychiatrist’s office overlooking the Hudson River. Against a backdrop of the magnificent Manhattan skyline, Lerato paints an absorbing picture of her decade-long journey from Johannesburg to the United States. Her story transitions seamlessly from the sessions with Dr Evelyn Webber, her psychiatrist, to her escape from an abusive home and her experiences of the underbelly of modern South Africa.
At its heart, Dying in New York is a story of hope and deep longing, made all the more poignant by Lerato’s startling candour from the first page until the book’s surprising conclusion.