In The Ditch by Buchi Emecheta, is the semi-autobiographical tale of a young Nigerian woman, separated from her husband and living with her five small children in the slums of North London. In spite of the desperateness of the situation, Adah is proud and ambitious and determined to retain her independence. The social workers however, decide that it is impossible for her to have a daytime job, continue the evening classes where she is studying for a degree, as well as looking after a handful of lively children on her own.
Inevitably, the welfare system kicks into action. Adah and her children are forced to join the ranks of the ‘problem families’ whose only hope of retaining their sanity lies in the ability to hold onto the good spirits and, above all, to their dreams.
This breakthrough novel by Buchi Emecheta is a fresh today as when first was first published in 1972. Adah, the African ingénue in London, not only bears witness to the harsh poverty that surrounds her, but manages with compassion and self-deprecating humour to champion the white working-class women and fellow denizens of the Pussy Cat Mansions who become her new friends. She finds common cause with their struggle against a social system that appears designed to oppress all women.
A new edition of this black classic will be available in February 2018, published by Omenala Press.
I re-read this novel recently and am really,really impressed by it.
A full review to follow..