Shirley, Goodness And Mercy

Chris van Wyk

2005 Short-listed

South African Booksellers' Choice Award

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Picador Africa


Heartwarming, honest and very funny - the story of a young boy growing up in a close and quirky 'coloured' community under apartheid. In 1962, at the age of five, Chris van Wyk went to school for the first time. Within days he learnt to recite Psalm 23. Bursting with pride, he rushed home to show off his newly acquired knowledge to his mother, Shirley. So taken was she with his accomplished delivery, that she burst into gales of laughter. Soon others were accorded the privilege of listening to him - again and again. And every time they responded as his mother had. So he carried on undaunted: "...Shirley, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." The malapropism aptly reflects the tone of this heart-warming, compelling and honest story about a young boy growing up in the coloured townships of Newclare, Coronationville and Riverlea during the apartheid era. This is a delightful account of one boy's special relationship with the relatives, friends and neighbours - often decidedly quirky - in his community, and of the important role laughter and humour played during the years he spent in bleak and dusty townships.