Tales of the Metric System
From a Natal boarding school in the seventies and Soviet spies in London in the eighties to the 1995 Rugby World Cup and intrigue in the Union Buildings, Tales of the Metric System shows how 10 days spread across four decades send tidal waves through the lives of ordinary and extraordinary South Africans alike.
An unforgettable cast of characters includes Ann, who is trying to protect her husband and son in 1970, and Victor, whose search for a missing document in 1973 will change his life forever. Rock guitarist Yash takes his boy to the beach on Boxing Day in 1979 to meet his revolutionary cousin, while Shanti, his granddaughter, loses her cellphone and falls in love twice on a lucky afternoon in 2010.
Playwrights, politicians, philosophers, and thieves, all caught in their individual stories, burst from the pages of Coovadia’s Tales of the Metric System as it measures South Africa’s modern history in its own remarkable units of imagination.
“Simple in concept, complex in construction, a novel which is so much more than the sum of its parts, one which purports to examine the randomness of life while delicately drawing the eye to the butterfly effect of individual acts and exposing the interconnectedness of people. In pristine prose and with a telling eye for detail, Tales of the Metric System leaves the reader with a sense of having undertaken a journey through the familiar only to arrive somewhere completely new.”
– Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love