Read of the Week

Yellowbone

Ekow Duker

Kwela

Review: Karen Watkins

When choosing to read Yellowbone I had no idea of the meaning of the term.

Instead, I was drawn to it because of a love for violins and a visit to Ghana.

A black person is called a yellowbone because of their yellowish skin tone. This is the case with Karabo, a light-skinned young girl living in Mthatha who grows up with the hurtful cry of “yellowbone” ringing in her ears.

There are also the sounds of her parents arguing and Karabo doesn’t realise that questions surrounding her paternity are the cause. Karabo doesn’t see this because of the great bond between her and “Teacher”, as her father is called.

Through this tangled background and the gift of a violin Karabo goes to London to study architecture. She gets involved with a man whose mother invites her to a private recital where a priceless violin binds her fate to that of the virtuoso player, Andre Potgieter. Little does she know that he is originally from her home town and has come to London to hide a secret.

Without giving too much away, Karabo flees to Ghana on the night of the recital, to the refuge of her father, but her plans go horribly wrong. Andre follows her for his own selfish reasons.

Spanning South Africa, Britain and Ghana, Yellowbone is a powerful, absorbing story of chance meetings, love and betrayal.

At its heart is the story about the love between a daughter and her father, and how that love is tested. It explores feelings of belonging and identity, justice, deceit and truth. Will they survive these obstacles that arise in their journeys through life? This for me was what made this novel a hit. As a parent it is our duty to protect, nurture and teach our children morals, values and ethics.

But how far should we go?

Duker’s writing is sometimes a melancholy depiction of South Africa’s social landscape and yet the story is uncomplicated and subtly explores the intricacies/issues of being light-skinned.

My only criticism is Andre’s connection of playing the violin in order to see visions. For me it’s surreal, skirting on science fiction, not helped by being unexplained, however this does not detract from the story and for you it might resonate. I have no qualms in recommending this book.