Chatsworth is Pravasan Pillay's debut short fiction collection and consists of eleven stories set in the sprawling township of Chatsworth, Durban. The stories are populated mostly by working-class characters who all, in one way or the other, find themselves on the margins of their community. There is an elderly mother and her dependent obese daughter who must fend for themselves; an angst-filled twelve-year-old girl who secretly chain smokes late at night; a tearful man who is incapable of passing his driving test; an albino girl who attains a fragile popularity in high school; a young woman who – against her father's wishes – falls in love with an immigrant; a seemingly placid pensioner who hides a shockingly violent side; and a pair of girls who bond over a love letter and hair bleach, among others.
The stories present sensitive yet unsentimental portraits of these characters, in prose that is spare and unadorned. Pillay additionally displays a remarkable ear for dialogue, and faithfully captures much of the nuance of Durban-Indian English. Chatsworth is a gentle and moving book about growing up, being different, but also about failing at adulthood.
Pravasan Pillay is a South African writer. He has published two chapbooks of poetry, Glumlazi (2009) and 30 Poems (2015), as well as a collection of co-written comedic short stories, Shaggy (2013). He is also the editor of the micro-press Tearoom Books.