South Africa: Suitcase of Memory - SA Author A'eysha Kassiem Tackles Racial and Cultural Identity in Debut Novel


A'Eysha Kassiem is a fresh, black voice on the literary scene. Her novel, Suitcase of Memory, delves into the untold stories of apartheid South Africa and grapples with the memory of our country's fraught past.

It took more than 15 years for A'Eysha Kassiem to publish her debut novel, Suitcase of Memory. The journey, she said, was riddled with numerous failures and an equal measure of tears.

"Most people think writing comes easy," said Kassiem, who abandoned her novel four times and persevered through several failed manuscripts.

The journey began when Kassiem was studying journalism in the Netherlands on an exchange programme. For the first time in her life, she was alone and far from home. She turned to writing as a source of comfort.

"I started to craft these characters that were dealing with issues related to identity struggles," she explained.

On her return from the Netherlands, she abandoned the novel but kept ruminating over it for several years, until 2018. Spurred on by the pending arrival of her first child, she put metaphorical pen to paper.

"I started to think a lot about things like legacy and traditions, the stories and history of my community and the things...

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