The Middle Children


163 pages
ISBN 0-929005-59-7
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Gildas Roberts

Gildas Roberts is the author of Gander Snatch and currently resides in


This powerful and moving collection of short stories is not just another
rant at cruel Apartheid. There are political statements, it is true, but
they come out good, hot, strong, and laced with humor. Pre-eminently and
magnificently, this book is about people.

Most of the stories concern Sabah, a mixed-race Cape Town Muslim who is
exiled to Canada for using an illegally obtained white identity card. By
skilfully throwing time-sequence out of kilter, deftly shifting point of
view, and using dialogue most tellingly (Cape Muslim, Afrikaner, white
South African English, Canadian), Rayda Jacobs presents a cast of
brilliantly realized characters, among them Sabah herself (seen as
child, young woman, and early middle-aged woman), her larger-than-life
mother, and her glowingly benign grandparents. There is a Dickensian
splendor to them and to the stories, which are both moving and very
funny. The “non-Sabah” stories are also excellent: “Boundaries,”
for example, is a little masterpiece, just under nine pages long.

In short, this book marks the emergence of a major talent that is hard
to praise too highly.


Jacobs, Rayda., “The Middle Children,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,