Why haven’t I read a novel by Lindsey Collen?

Why indeed?  A better question is why am I not aware of  her novels?

I’m reading only short stories this month as I attempt to complete my personal challenge to read 100 short stories in 2011.  So, I started rereading Opening Spaces: An Anthology of Contemporary African Women’s Writing.  The third story in the anthology, The Enigma,  is about a school girl whose father is hyper-protective.

She started her essay:  ‘My father is waiting for someone to make a request for my hand in marriage.  This is one thing I can’t stand.  When I hear the two words bon garçon, I feel the anger…’

The story is striking.  Did I overlook it the first time that I read this anthology, back in 1999?  It’s good when a book stands up to a reread.  The anthology’s Notes on Contributors says the following about the writer of The Enigma:

“Lindsey Collen was born in the Transkei in South Africa and has lived in Mauritius with her husband, Ram Seegobin,since 1974.  She has written five novels:  There is a Tide (1991), The Rape of Sita (1994), Misyon Garson (1996), Getting Rid of It (1997) and MutinyThe Rape of Sita was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best African book in 1994.”

The Rape of Sita was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1996. And another novel, Boy, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best African book in 2005. Her latest book is the Malaria man and her neighbors. I must not be paying attention or something!

I think she has a short story in Enigmas and Arrivals: An Anthology of Commonwealth Writing (1997), which I have somewhere in my house.

There isn’t much information on her online.  But it appears that her books are the sort that I might like.  All I have to do now is find them!

Here is a link to several articles that she wrote for  the New Internationalist magazine.

Have you heard of or read any books by Lindsey Collen?



  1. I remember this story very well when I read this piece. I like the way the story was written like an essay and the way the girl went about it, never stating her motive for writing. And when it came it was a surprise.


    • You know, I went over to your blog to see if you had read her. I thought if someone has, that someone would be you :). Glad to bring a new author to your attention.


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