Dr Helen Moffett, freelance academic, author, editor; Joanne Joseph, author, journalist, broadcaster

Thursday 19 January

1.00 pm


Joanne Joseph is a household name in South Africa. Helen Moffett had the lucky experience of editing her debut novel, Children of Sugarcane, so she is well placed to draw out the absorbing story behind the story – how Joanne went on a nine-year quest to uncover the history of how her great-grandmother came to South Africa from India. This led to her fictional, but historically accurate account of the life of Shanti, a young woman transported from Tamil Nadu to the sugar plantations of the Colony of Natal in the late 1800s. While important work has been done in tracing the histories of indentured labourers in South Africa, almost no work has been done on the specific experiences of women labourers. Shanti’s experience becomes a microcosm not just of the violence and exploitation these women faced, but their joys, beliefs, loves, and their agency. Join us as we peel back the layers of what is at heart an extraordinary love story.

Joanne Joseph will be available afterwards to sign copies of her book, which has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times fiction award.