During the twilight years of Apartheid, Zoe Wicomb gained attention with her first book, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town. The book is a collection of inter-related short stories. In 2013 she was awarded the inaugural Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for her fiction.
“You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town comes from a confident statement by Frieda’s longstanding white boyfriend as she is about to go off to have an abortion in the white part of the city. Frieda Shenton, for her part, does not have a sense of direction, even though she ends up in the clinic and is able to deny that she is coloured in order to have the procedure,” writes Marcia Wright.
A look at my anxious face compelled him to say, “You can’t get lost in Cape Town. There,” and he pointed over his shoulder, “is Table Mountain and there is Devil’s Peak and there Lion’s Head, so how in heaven’s name could you get lost?”
The story recounts the anxiety of the bus ride into town to have the abortion:
I should count out the fare for the conductor. Perhaps not; he is still at the front of the bus. We are now travelling through Rondebosch so that he will be fully occupied with white passengers at the front.
To the desolate moment that concludes the process:
It is 6a.m. Light pricks at the shroud of Table Mountain. The streets are deserted and, relieved, I remember that the next train will pass at precisely 6.22.