‘Everybody lives in a cage. Whether they know it or not is the question. I think that knowing that you in live in a cage is what ultimately sets you free. But even if you don’t know that you live in a cage, you know that there must be more to life than this.’ – Terry-Ann Adams
Women are often not the protagonists of their own stories. Terry- Ann Adams in her debut novel reputes this, Those Who Live in Cages captures the interior lives of five women in Eldorado Park, a Coloured township in the South of Johannesburg.
It is through Bertha, Kaylynn Laverne, Janice and Raquel that we experience the everyday life of Eldos and surviving in ‘the Park’. Their lives enables us go think through living as a Black women in this country.
The book does not shy away from difficult issues that plague these women, such as alcoholism, domestic violence, gender-based violence, teen pregnancy. Through all this, these women try to exercise some agency.
The book also has soft moments in the familial context, in the friendship and in many ways how these women find themselves in the world that was not created to benefit them.
We sat with Terry-Adams to reflect on the inspiration between the novel and to reflect more deeply on the issues that are excavated in the story. This debut is a poignantly beautiful offering that adds to the canon about an often forgotten community.