Recently, PDBY was lucky enough to be contacted by independent publishing house, Blackbird Books, in order to explore the soon to be released title, Broken Porcelain. Broken Porcelain is a personal narrative story of a mental illness journey, and despite its universal applicability, it was written from the perspective of one black woman, Relebone Rirhandzu eAfrika.
This book is described as a “collection of essays” and although each chapter is an essay, each essay is a new story, a new puzzle piece, with each piece forming the journey of one individual. There is something refreshing about the unfiltered writing, and the candour that accompanies this telling of a journey. Not only does this piece represent a different perspective in a world that often only tells the story of those who follow a mainstream template, but it also provides a release from the condescending self-help books that dominate traditional book-selling outlets. Relebone does not yet consider herself a ‘writer’, but the contents of this book firmly indicate otherwise. Her conflicted emotions about writing are indicated within the essays, but this conflict provides a sense of metaphysicality when she discusses the difficulty surrounding writing, in a book that she managed to write and get published. It can be said that many writers can find solace in the mirror of her writing experience.
This book does not tell one how to feel when experiencing mental illness, nor does it try to promote a “cure”. It simply expresses one person’s experience in a way that provides others with opportunity, platform, and braveness to understand their own.
This piece shows the fundamental importance of the independent publishing sphere in South Africa. There is something special about hearing voices that are not commercialised but published due to the unique perspective that the author has to offer.
This is a book that should be read by all South Africans. Not only does it help those with mental illnesses feel understood, but it also provides a perspective for those who do not battle with mental illness but wish to understand it. It feels as if one is inside the head of the author, understanding their perspective in a way that makes one feel as if they are living the experience through the writer. Reading this was a humanising experience, and an important one at that.
Photo: Ashleigh Pascoe