Vividly set against the backdrop of 19th century India and the British-owned sugarcane plantations of Natal, written with great tenderness and lyricism, Children of Sugarcane paints an intimate and wrenching picture of indenture told from a woman’s perspective.
Shanti, a bright teenager stifled by life in rural India and facing an arranged marriage, dreams that South Africa is an opportunity to start afresh. The Colony of Natal is where Shanti believes she can escape the poverty, caste, and the traumatic fate of young girls in her village. Months later, after a harrowing sea voyage, she arrives in Natal and realises life there is full of hardship and labour.
Spanning four decades and two continents, Children of Sugarcane illustrates the lifegiving power of love, the indestructible bonds between family and friends, heroism, and how the ultimate sacrifice becomes Shanti’s greatest redemption.
“Joanne Joseph has skilfully crafted fact into fiction. May Shanti’s story inspire others to tell herstory.” – Pregs Govender, activist and author of Love and Courage: A Story Insubordination
"Shanti is a heroine that the reader will not easily forget. The story that is told here is worth not only knowing but also remembering. " – Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, author, filmmaker and academic