Thursday, 08 September 2011 00:00
Written by Vasigie Munsamy.
Review by Caitlin Martin
Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indian indentured labourers to South Africa. The build-up to the commemoration of such an historically significant event seems to have prompted an increase in the number of books written by South African Indian authors in the past few years. Vasigie Munsamy’s novel Sunken Treasure joins this flourishing new tradition from KwaZulu-Natal’s Indian community. Munsamy joins other debut authors such as Mariam Akabor who published Flat 9 in 2006, and Shubnum Khan, who published Onion Tears in 2010, to name but a few.
In Munsamy’s novel, Mykonus Christolus is the character around whom the plot circulates. He is the owner of a large shipping company and gets drawn into his brother’s search for a ship called ‘The Drake’ which sank off the coast of Cape Town in the late 1800s, taking numerous riches down with it. His quest attracts an eclectic group of characters to the search. One of these characters is Surekha, a fairly traditional woman who struggles to balance her role as a wife with the individual identity that her career offers her. The search for treasure off the coast of Cape Town offers the opportunity for excitement, frustration and much self-examination to all involved.
In summary, the Editor’s Note to this novel captures the trajectory of Sunken Treasure well: “This ambitious story throws in as much into the melting pot as possible: love stories, marital conflicts, murder, plats and deceit, historical, geographical and natural history facts, plus all manner of social and economic ills, ranging from abuse to rape to miscarriage, an abandoned HIV [positive] baby, family traditions, and the exploitation of fisherman – indeed this adventure love story has it all. The various issues have been handled well, and a lot of care and thought has been devoted to the story making this colourful informative and busy book an interesting and entertaining read with much food for thought.”