Letters Home by Jolyon Nuttall

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Publication Date: March 2022

Writer Jolyon Nuttall lost his race against time to have his next book published before he succumbed to lung cancer in August 2019 at 85. Nuttall was diagnosed in late October last year. His book Vintage Love, a collection of essays in the Orwellian mode, was published by Jacana Media in December 2018. Nuttall's posthumous publication, entitled Letters Home, is based on a series of 52 weekly airmail lettercards he sent to his parents while on secondment as a foreign correspondent for a year in New York in 1961. The letters were kept by his father and returned to him at the end of his secondment. They lay in a drawer for 50 years or more. The letters tell of a young man aged 27 sent to a city with which - unlike London, where he had worked two years previously - he had little affinity to begin with. They reveal, as the year progresses, how he fell in love with New York and with a beautiful Japanese actress. Part One of the book not only includes an edited version of these letters, but the painfully haunting letters he received from the woman he was unable to bring back to South Africa. Her name was Misa Ban. Part Two of the book records his desolation on his return under contract to South Africa, and his desperation to go back to New York and marry Misa. It also recounts, through various episodes, the extreme difficulty he had in re-integrating with the country of his birth. His career fell apart. He had been used to filing front-page leads to his home newspapers from his coverage of the United Nations and the growing pressures for sanctions against South Africa. On his return to the newsroom of his newspaper in Durban, he was offered the aquarium beat. He switched careers. He moved to management, much to the chagrin and disgust of his editorial colleagues. His career took off, as the book recounts. Was he guilty or not guilty in remaining in South Africa? It is for the reader to decide. In Part Three, he reverts to the essay form which he used in Vintage Love to write about several late life experiences. He wraps up the book with an afterword that confronts why he remains an optimist, though somewhat bruised and battered.