Literature

Today’s Google Doodle Celebrates The First Black South African Woman Author To Publish a Novel

The book was about the struggles of black women under apartheid rule.

Today would mark Miriam Tlali's 85th birthday, the South African author who died on February 24, 2017, aged 83. She was born on November 11, 1933. Today's Google doodle celebrates the icon who wrote about injustice at a time when it came at a steep price.


Tlali was the first black South African woman author to publish a novel in the country. Her debut novel Muriel at Metropolitan was first published in 1975 by Ravan Press. The author didn't like the book's title, which was originally Between Two Worlds, and had some chapters and sentences edited out of the book.

According to an article on The Conversation South Africa, Tlali agreed to have the book published under that title because her mother was close to dying, and she wanted her to see the novel in print before her death.



In the book, the author wrote about the experiences of being a black woman in apartheid South Africa, highlighting the humiliations that came with it and how the ways of the apartheid regime deterred black women's progress. The book was based on her experience as an administrative assistant in a furniture store in Joburg.

The book made an impact globally, as 45 different editions were published between 1975 and 2005, and it was translated into three languages.

Tlali went on to publish the novel Amandla in 1980, and two collections of short stories, Footprints in the Quag: Stories and Dialogues from Soweto (1989) and Mihloti (1984).

Muriel at Metropolitan was re-issued in 2004 under the original title. She wrote in the preface:

"I returned to my matchbox house in Soweto, locked myself in my little bedroom and cried… Five whole chapters had been removed; also paragraphs, phrases, and sentences. It was devastating, to say the least."

Read more about Tlali here, here, and here.

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