Read this if: You’re in the mood to be inspired
The Pavement Bookworm is an important book. Not because it offers a unique style or narrative (it doesn’t) but because of what it represents – hope. Philani Dlada first came to our attention on social media around two years ago – he was the gentleman who sold books and book reviews on Empire Road and later Gleneagles Road. In his debut, an autobiography, he tells the story of his life – one filled with drugs, homelessness and ultimately finding redemption through his love of books.
The importance of The Pavement Bookworm lies in its relatability. Books which deal with similar themes do exist, but none which take place in contemporary South Africa, and none which are written in simple, conversational South African English. The familiarity of his experience, be it in the way he describes Johannesburg or how nyaope destroys lives, resonates in way that a description of the drug addled streets of 70’s New York City never will.
An easy read, Mr. Dlada’s story starts out strong and compelling. You will immediately be sucked into his world of an ordinary South African facing difficult issues that many South African youths face on a daily basis.
My only criticism is the final two chapters, in which Mr Dladla breaks the cardinal rule of writing: show, don’t tell. In these chapters, Mr. Dlada switches from the sincere retelling of his story to preaching about the importance of giving back. This is a shame, as it diminishes the gravity of his story and goodwill gained from the reader.
I recommend The Pavement Bookworm to anyone who wishes to gain insight to the challenges facing South African youth, and to anyonewho is looking for an inspiring story.
For more infomation on The Pavement Bookworm Foundation, which encourages children and teenagers to discover the magic of reading, please visit its website.