California without the Teslas (kinda)...
A postcard from Cape Town.
Last night I landed in Cape Town. As we Ubered to the City Bowl from the airport, the sun had already set, but daylight insisted on staying up long past its bedtime, sombre Table Mountain a silhouette against a glimmering golden-blue sky.
This is the view from the little Airbnb we’re staying in for the next few days. It’s just a few blocks away from where I lived in Cape Town in my 20s (before the nomadic bug truly bit… and I ended up marrying an American). To be back back in the city where I’ve spent most of my life, but which has felt extremely out of reach over the last ~2.5 years feels equal parts nostalgic, exciting, surreal and melancholic.
The quality of the light, the natural beauty, the jarring inequality, the affluence, the homelessness — Cape Town really does remind me of California, albeit much more beautiful, and much less smoggy, and without the Teslas or EV charging stations. Jarringly, I still haven’t seen a rooftop single solar panel yet. The fairly recent spectre of “Day Zero” notwithstanding, it seems like most Capetonians are quite content with sleepwalking into climate catastrophe.
Speaking of climate catastrophe —
Tomorrow (Sunday 10th) at 8pm SAST (2pm ET, 11am PT) I’ll be hosting the first ever gathering of the TONGUES BOOK CLUB, where I’ll be in conversation with the shockingly talented Alistair Mackay about his gripping, moving, devastating debut novel, It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way. In it, Alistair imagines a Cape Town — and a world — in which fossil fuels have continued to rule the roost (with searingly horrifying results). I thought I hated speculative fiction, but after reading this, I’ve been forced to reconsider. Jeez, it’s good!
I’d be so thrilled if you would join us for our hour-long discussion (on Zoom that is… our Airbnb is a tad cramped!).
If you’re a Saffer (howzit!) you can buy the paper version in most bookshops; for those further afield, it’s on Kindle and other e-book platforms.
OK, OK, I’ll stop with the fangirling now.
On the road again
After a too-short stint in Cape Town, I’ll soon be heading off to explore more of South Africa. I can’t wait to share my reflections from the road with you in a few weeks from now. If you have any recs, tips, feedback, advice, cool KN95 designs, discounted rapid tests, roadtrip playlists — or (most importantly) books you’ve read lately that are as gripping as It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way, let me know! After all, we’re on the hunt for our next TONGUES BOOK CLUB guest…