SA still has a long way to go to fulfil the promises of democracy. More than 20 years after the first democratic elections, the country is still plagued by racial, social and political tensions. Masechaba, a bright young medical intern, is struggling to fit into this SA, struggling to cope with the loss of her brother, who was her only friend, struggling with her religion, with rape, and struggling to deal with her demons, which have kept her from leading a normal life since she reached puberty. Period Pain is the third novel from young writer Dr Kopano Matlwa, whose debut novel, Coconut, won the EU Literary Award in 2007. Her portrayal of her deeply troubled main character, Masechaba, is so powerful that one can’t help but love and feel pity for her at the same time. We first meet Masechaba as a teenager who has just got her first period, who soon discovers that this normal female hormonal occurrence will result in countless hospital visits, causing her not to have normal teenage e...

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