Sex Work Explored – Warts and All

Shameless explores the power of dreams and the triumph of the human spirit. It rather says there’s no hopeless position, there’s just hopeless people. It takes the issue of morality and give it a human face. Futhi’s narrative is no-holds barred and has the capacity to disturb an inquisitive mind.

The book is written in a linguistic style that is so obvious that the author is confortable with. It is rich in imagery without drifting towards being a badly-scripted documentary. She engages with the subject in a manner that humanizes it while at the same time fighting a societal temptation to be subjective. One of the challenges of writing about tired themes is to interplore existing related vocabulary and use of cliché nouns. Futhi manages to shy away from that. The flow is documentary-like, like the documentary being shot – but the delivery is punchy.

The issue of sex working has been exhausted to the bone in films, documentaries and individual interviews. Anyone wanting to revisit this subject should find fresh angles of treatment. Unfortunately Futhi does not succeed in this regard. And the feel-good ending could have done will with a twist in the tail. Feel-good stories are for Sunday school, which makes Futhis’ book a great contender to partner the Gideon’s yellow.

It is not a South Afrikan story but a universal one. Futhi missed an opportunity to give her story a local identity. The only thing South African about it is the location and the names of the characters. Anything out of that it could easily happen in Maputo. Transcending time? We need to understand here that Futhi writes about the oldest profession on earth and to balance morality and cohesion is like trying to suppress consensus amongst five differing groups. However her undertaking to tell this sad story with a happy ending goes some distance towards nation building.

She’s undoubtedly creative and her storytelling skills are impeccable. Futhi just needs t find a subject she is comfortable with and apply her skills on it. She blends different genres very well, when you think it sounds autobiographical you notice that it is a biography of a sex worker without the author’s alter-ego/character giving much about self.

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