Always Another Country


A Memoir of exile and home

Born in exile, in Zambia, to a guerrilla father and a working mother, Sisonke Msimang is constantly on the move. Her parents, talented and highly educated, travel from Zambia to Kenya and Canada and beyond with their young family. Always the outsider, and against a backdrop of racism and xenophobia, Sisonke develops her keenly perceptive view of the world. In this sparkling account of a young girl’s path to womanhood, Sisonke interweaves her personal story with her political awakening in America and Africa, her euphoria at returning to the new South Africa, and her disillusionment with the new elites. Confidential and reflective, Always Another Country is a search for belonging and identity: a warm and intimate story, and a testament to sisterhood and family bonds.

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Publication date

September 4, 2018






Sisonke Msimang

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most exciting contemporary female black voices in literature. Now based in Perth, Australia … Read more



Book club questions

  1. Msimang experienced racism in both Africa and in the US/Canada: Were these forms of racism different? How so, why not?
  2. Have you had close encounters with similar kinds of racism? If there was anyone else around, how did they react?
  3. In what way does the theft of the bicycle change her outlook on human relationships, and on her own situation?
  4. How would you describe the relationship between Sisonke and her parents, and how does this change over the course of her story? In what way does her outlook on the world differ from that of her parents?
  5. How do the relationships between Sisonke and her sisters change over the course of the book?
  6. Why does it take Sisonke so long to make up her mind about getting into a relationship with her husband, Paul? What factors are stopping her, what is driving her on?
  7. Regarding her love affair in the US with Jasonwhat is it she sees in him and why does she decide to leave him in the end?
  8. What makes her return to South Africa?
  9. What makes her leave South Africa to go to Australia?
  10. How would you characterize Sisonke? What kind of person is she?
  11. What do you think about how she deals with the sexual harassment that she experienced as a child? Why does she react in the way she does? Do you think this has an affect on the personality of the adult Sisonke?
  12. Do you think sexism is as much/more of an issue for her as racism is? Why/why not?
  13. What do you think about the situation between Sisonke, the babysitter, and the babysitter’s sister? What do you think of the way Sisonke deals with this? What do you think Sisonke feels about the way she deals with this?
  14. What do you think about the conflict she has at work and the way she deals with it?
  15. Are you interested in reading more of Sisonke’s thoughts, or hearing her speak? Were you struck by any specific ideas she brought up?


“Always Another Country, a graceful memoir by Sisonke Msimang, is a welcome novelty. Msimang, a South African writer and political analyst, charts an alternate course to the now familiar conclusion that home is not always a place on a map.” —New York Times

“A unique perspective on South Africa’s recent history that fundamentally tells the struggle of a deeply torn woman to comprehend a deeply torn country ” —Financial Times

“In her first book, the memoir Always Another Country, the writer and human-rights worker reflects on her youth in exile from South Africa, and the urge for social justice that the experience created.” —Wall Street Journal

“Eloquent and affecting, Msimang’s book explores the nature of belonging as it chronicles a perpetual outsider’s quest for the meaning of home. A candidly intimate tale of a journey toward self-identity” —Kirkus Reviews