The Unfamous Five

Nedine Moonsamy

Seeking adventure during the school holidays, five teenagers from the Indian suburb of Lenasia accidentally witness a violent crime that has a lasting impact on their lives.

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The Unfamous Five

Seeking adventure during the school holidays, five teenagers from the Indian suburb of Lenasia accidentally witness a violent crime that has a lasting impact on their lives. Starting in June of 1993, the novel follows the Five through the next decade as they confront, both as individuals and as a group, questions of who they are, who they are allowed to be, and who they are expected to be in the New South Africa. They must query what role they will allow tradition, ancestry, sexuality, skin colour, love, money and culture to play in their lives as they attempt to forge new paths, sometimes stumbling along the way, but always willing to give one another a helping hand.

Nedine Moonsamy

Nedine grew up in Mosquito Valley, Lenasia and has lived in places as far flung as Helsinki, Poona and Makhanda since then. Currently, she lives and works in Pretoria, where she lectures on postcolonial literature in the English Department at the University of Pretoria. She also researches contemporary South African literature and science fiction in Africa. The Unfamous Five is her debut novel.

Nedine Moonsamy's author page

“Moonsamy steers skilfully through the vicissitudes of friendships and growing up in an unequal society. Both robust and tender…a wonderful debut.”
Zoë Wicomb author of You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town and October, a novel

“At the heart of Nedine Moonsamy’s remarkably assured debut novel, The Unfamous Five, is a story of friendship. Moonsamy shows a deft narrative hand unfolding the bonds and tribulations of a tightly-knit group of Gen-Xers from the formerly Indian township of Lenasia as they negotiate early adulthood and its compromises in post-apartheid South Africa. Moonsamy writes an admirable clean, crisp sentence and in The Unfamous Five she has produced a thoroughly modern, honest novel that is both entertaining and illuminating.”
Pravasan Pillay, publisher and writer

“The story illustrates the challenges of the everyday while exploring the human condition. […] A unique and enjoyable read.”
Tiah Beautement, Sunday Times Live

“Beautifully crafted. […] Through these characters, Moonsamy brings the transition alive in a way that is truly tangible, never shying away from the most difficult aspect of the period, exposing the devastating consequences of racism, homophobia and intolerance of any kind. It is the private and the personal that becomes political here as in the best of fiction.”
Karina M Szczurek

“Delineate[s] the significance of the ordinary.”
Chris Thurman, Business Day

“A deep, descriptive and painfully honest storytelling voice radiates from Moonsamy’s debut novel. […] This richly textured novel, woven from the strands of Indian township dynamics, lets readers walk in the shoes of one fully realized character after another. Moonsamy examines every character with a genuine warmth, their motivations, insecurities and most importantly, their battle to conquer the demons that follow them. […] The deep metaphors and engaging characters ensure The Unfamous Five is an immersive read. The book’s emotional power demonstrates Moonsamy’s outstanding artistry.” Dr Zaheera Jina, Roshgold News

“A startling reflection on race, sexuality, class, colourism, religion and identity in South Africa.” Fatima Moosa, The Daily Vox

“For a debut novel, The Unfamous Five is an incredible achievement. Moonsamy does what we expect from writers, which is to open worlds that have thus far remained hidden. This way, as readers, our imaginations are epanded as we encounter the unfamiliar. […] [Moonsamy is] a welcome, incisive voice.” Manosa Nthunya, City Press