I am reading South African writing at the moment and have just finished Kopano Matlwa‘s Period Pain.

I can’t remember being that unsettled by a book, ever, really. It takes the form of secret journal posts, some confessional, some describing events, some reflecting back on the past, and some even prayers and admonitions to god by a black, female medical doctor.

It is in turns hilarious, gross, shocking, unbearably sad, jarring, ugly, beautiful and mad. It is our country in one person, and one person who barely survives our country.

Conflicting and fluctuating attitudes about religion, education, family, xenophobia, white mistrust, and what it is like to be a woman are all turned over, examined, shaken about, discarded, picked up again and examined for wounds.

It is a devastating read, made more bleak because every word could be true and these things happen to people here every day.

And yet the writing is mad, quirky, urgent, poetic, totally original and compelling. I haven’t ever read anything like it.

It is a must read book. Must.