Kate is a burnt-out South African editor at the busy Centaur Press publishing house; over forty and lonely, she is driven to searching for love on the Internet like so many other overworked professionals. There she encounters the full spectrum of mid-life manhood, from the perilous to the pathetic to the promising.
The challenges of finding a belated soulmate among the men of the apartheid generation pose not a few conundrums for Kate – chief among them, the realisation of how impassable are the gulfs in outlook between the men who cross her inbox and her own personal non-negotiables. She goes on some dates, accumulates some bruises, and has her eyes opened to a few things about herself along the way. But it is the collision with her own baggage that proves to be the most daunting encounter of all.
The coming into her life of a young African dog is the catalyst that forces her to some painful realisations: in order to find the intimacy she longs for, she first has to deal with her own destructive patterns. She loses her heart, finds her mojo and, as in all good quest journeys, discovers that the map is not the territory.
Part wry romance, part social commentary, Survival Training for Lonely Hearts tracks the complexities of modern living in South Africa, caught between the collateral damage of the old and the emerging configurations of the new, across divides both personal and political. Through the experiences of Kate, the online dating milieu and kaleidoscopic interchanges of the book publishing world become an exploration of the broader issues we all face.