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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Brett Michael Innes chats about how being an outsider gave him objectivity in his writing

Rachel WeepingBrett Michael Innes chatted to Polity about his novel, Rachel Weeping.

In 2012, Innes’s first novel, The Story of Racheltjie de Beer, became a bestseller. Rachel Weeping has been made into a film, winning five out of nine awards at the 2015 kykNET film festival in August.

The story follows a Mozambican domestic worker living in Johannesburg, who is forced to make a life-changing decision after her daughter dies while under the care of her employers.

“I’m a single white South African male who’s telling the story of motherhood and loss from the perspective of two women,” Innes says. “There is a debate that exists within the writing world of whether you write what you know, what your experiences are in, and whether I as a white male have the authority or the right to give voice to a black woman, a white woman, a foreign national.”

Innes says he believes the voice of an outsider can be even more powerful, as there is more objectivity if the writer “does their job right”.

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