Saturday, 9 June 2012

Blogging the Caine Prize: Story 5 - Constance Myburgh's 'Hunter Emmanuel'

Today is the last of the Caine Prize shortlisted stories. I've really enjoyed reading and reviewing the 2012 shorlisted stories and will probably share my thoughts on the experience later. Once a week, for the last five weeks a group of bloggers have been Blogging the Caine Prize. This week's story is Constance Myburgh's "Hunter Emmanuel". As always my criteria for reading these shortlisted stories are: if they beat the "stereotypical narrative" and if I enjoyed it. 

It starts with Hunter Emmanuel finding a woman's leg hanging "from a branch three-quarter's up the pine's trunk", and then we find out that the leg belongs to a whore, who is now in hospital. Hunter is determined to find out why the whore's (her name is Zara Swart in case you're wondering) leg was dangling from a tree and why she was found "out at Hout Bay dock". He says it's for closure, but really it's because "a man must investigate. Without investigation he is nothing".  In the end he solves the mystery and Hunter Emmanuel thinks to himself "If it wasn't for the fact that I can't even solve my own life ... I could make a best, ever real-life, private investigator".

So it wasn't my favourite of all the shortlisted stories. Hunter really used the word "whore" a lot, and he might have also used "slet" (slut in case you're wondering) a couple of times as well. He really is quite misogynistic. Like when he noticed that the leg "had been cut out right at the crotch, at the dip he liked so much, probably his favourite place in a chick". Or when he tells Zara, "You think the police are going to solve this one? You're a whore. That's already bad. But you're also a whore that's still alive. That's worse. If you were dead, there'd be more chance they'd give a shit". He is obviously doing this more for himself than for Zara, sorry excuse me the whore.  Some of the language used, wasn't really my style, but Hunter Emmanuel is probably the type of man to use that type of language.

While it wasn't my favourite story, I do get why it may have been shortlisted. This isn't the stereotypical African narrative - it's a detective story from the pulp fiction magazine, Jungle Jim. So they are trying to showcase the variety of African fiction out there. 

For more reviews on Hunter Emmanuel: Black Balloon, Ikhide, The Reading Life.

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