The One That Got Away by Zoë Wicomb is a collection of thirteen short stories about the lives of a disparate band of characters: lives which in some cases are interconnected in ways that are sometimes obvious, and sometimes much less so. The stories cover many aspects of modern life, ranging from friendship, family and marriage to the the issues that sometimes arise from dealing with servants. The author's approach always appears to be realistic, though at times there are odd shifts in the underlying rationale whose intention appears to be to throw the reader off balance and open up questions about the nature of the reality behind the stories: and, perhaps, the wider nature of reality. The overall effect is sometimes intriguing and sometimes surprising, and certainly never predictable.
The settings for the stories range back and forth between South Africa (and Cape Town in particular) and Glasgow. This may at first sight seem an unexpected combination of locations, but it reflects the author's own background. Zoë Wicomb was born in Namaqualand in South Africa in 1948, and has mainly lived in the UK since the 1970s, with the exception of three years spent teaching at the University of the Western Cape in the early 1990s. This followed the publication of her first book, a collection of short stories called "You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town" in 1987, set during the apartheid era. She has since written two novels, David's Story, published in 2002, and Playing the Light, published in 2006.