Keletso Mopai’s short story collection If You Keep Digging was published by Blackbird Books on June 1, 2019.
Keletso Mopai first came to our attention when she was longlisted for the Writivism Short Story prize in 2017. Since then we have encountered her writing in the Johannesburg Review of Books, Drum, Omenana Magazine, Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review, and The Ebedi Review. Like a typical South African, the Limpopo-born Johannesburg-based writer decided to give us a whole book, a short story collection, with Blackbird Books as publisher. The collection titled If You Keep Digging has the following blurb;
‘If You Keep Digging’ is a moving collection of short stories, which will resonate with a South African audience. The selection of stories highlights marginalised identities and looks at the daily lives of people who may otherwise be forgotten or dismissed.
‘Monkeys’ is a skilful commentary on domestic violence, toxic masculinity, patriarchy (and how it is racialised), power dynamics between white and black men and how children come to ‘know’ that they are white or black. ‘Skinned’, whose protagonist is a woman with albinism, is a powerful story about learning to accept that you deserve love when the world constantly tells you otherwise. In ‘Fourteen’ the author deftly demonstrates the ability to play with concepts of time and reality. It is a compelling story about potential and how one can feel unfulfilled despite having hopes and ambitions.
The collection is also deeply concerned with covering the early post-democracy years in South Africa. Each of the characters deals with questions around the ‘new’ country. The book implores one to think about diverse topics and perspectives, difficult family relationships, abandonment, social and class issues, power dynamics at school and at work, mental illness, witchcraft, sexuality, domestic abuse and the ancestral realm, among other things.