- Title: This Is How It Is: True Stories from South Africa
- Edited by: Life Righting Collective
- Publisher: Jacana Media
- Country of Origin: South Africa
- Publication Year: 2018
- ISBN: 9781928232568
- Bib. Info: Paperback; 276pp
The healing power of life writing, one shared story at a time.
This Is How It Is a “refreshing, poignant and wide-ranging” (Helen Moffett) collection of real life experiences: 52 stories, prose and poetry, that tell of a man who is anxious about an HIV test; a child with an alarming nose for gossip and a girl who is saved by the enemy in a war zone. Some of the writers are grieving the loss of a child or struggling with addiction, abuse, bullying or betrayal. Most of these writers have never been published before. They wrote these stories primarily to bear witness to their lives and the troubled times in which we live. Putting traumatic experiences down on paper can help people work through shame, guilt and fear, releasing them from the traps they lay. Writing is sometimes able to turn a painful incident into something more manageable, even beautiful.
Sharing stories can also heal both the writer and the reader. When we first meet a stranger, we make assumptions about them. When we hear of their life in their own words, we find that many of our negative assumptions are wrong. Often we discover that we are more alike than we are different. Our magnificent world is in trouble, much of it because we are not paying attention to what is right in front of us. When the facts don’t stir us to reconsider, story can. This anthology invites us to become curious and reflective rather than fearful and defensive. It encourages us to climb down from the ladder of hierarchy and competition and to join the circle of relationship and humanity by becoming vulnerable enough to share and listen to our own and each other’s half-hidden stories.
But equally importantly, Bongani Kona, 2016 Caine Prize finalist, reminds us: “We forget that the most daring thing we can do is to allow ourselves to be seen. To stand before the world and to say this is who I am. This is how it is.”