KHAMR, the makings of a waterslams

: Khan (J.)

R 240.00
- +

180pp., illus., paperback, Johannesburg, 2020


Foreword by Mona Eltahawy

Jamil F. Khan writes about growing up as a Muslim in a middle-class Coloured family in Kraaifontein, Cape Town, and the constant discord created by his father's alcoholism.

"With Khamr, Jamil F. Khan has gifted us an exquisitely-crafted, ground-breaking memoir, destined to change and save lives. 'Coloured', Muslim and queer, Khan's coming-of-age story sketches the process of claiming an autonomous, fully actualised self as he grapples with classism, colourism, and homophobia in a middle-class Cape Town, 'Coloured' community, where appearances are everything.

His turbulent journey navigating his father's alcoholism and the accompanying stigma that clings to the family - encapsulated in the slur 'waterslams' - and the destruction his father's addiction wreaks on his entire family, as well as the young boy's sense of security in the world. He understandably sketches the constant undertow of homophobia, which threatens to entrench a sense of estrangement from his family and faith. Khan renders this excruciating journey into adulthood with elegant, moving prose, skilfully demonstrating the soul-destroying effects of intersecting oppression. Yet he leaves the reader with a sense of hope and redemption.

 Unsparing and morally uncompromising, but full of compassion and empathy for the chief agents of his oppression, Khan succeeds in poignantly mapping his quest for a freedom that is ultimately revolutionary. He has documented an important, spirit-healing story; a beautiful undoing of some of the unspeakable violence of Black, queer erasure from history." Barbara Boswell, Associate Professor of English, University of Cape Town, and author of Grace: a novel

"Khamr: the making of a waterslams is part memoir, part socio-political commentary. Jamil F. Khan with unflinching honesty and searing vulnerability, speaks into the queer archival silence. He writes about us loudly. In the book, he reckons with becoming, substance abuse, familial hardships and notions of belonging at home and in a religion.

This book gives us a space to reckon with organised religion, sexual discrimination and the effects of colonialism on our lived experiences and histories. More importantly, this written text will speak to many Black Queer people and, may even, save lives. When I read this book I felt less alone, I felt seen in all my complexities and hidden histories." Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, co-founder of The Cheeky Natives


Jamil F. Khan is currently enrolled for a PhD in Critical Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and lives in Johannesburg.