EMBRACE is the story of the awakening of Karl De Man a thirteen-year-old student at the Berg, an exclusive academy for boys in South Africa in the 1970s. Interwoven with the storyline about Karl at school are memories from Karl's childhood and first years at the Berg, presented as an ever-growing patchwork of the many influences on his development: growing up on a game reserve in East Africa, intensely aware of landscape and wildlife; a loving and close family, but a traditional one that will never easily accept Karl's true self: being sent away to school and the formation of new friendships and relationships. But, after threats and punishments handed out after casual sexual games in the dorm, Karl falls in love. He simultaneously has secret affairs with his best friend, Dominic, who is the son of liberal parents, and his choirmaster, Jacques Cilliers. The great strength of the novel is that it places Karl's passions on a wider canvas, focusing on his raw passions and elemental drives against the landscapes of Africa. It is a staggering follow-up to Mark Behr's award-winning first novel, THE SMELL OF APPLES.
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(198mm x 126mm x 47mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
This first-person narrative account of Karl De Man's teenage years at boarding school in South Africa during the 1970's is intercut with scenes from his early childhood where he evokes the sights and sounds of life on a game reserve. At school, which he describes as a 'maze of deceit, betrayal and violence', pupils suspected of engaging in any kind of homosexual activity are subjected to severe beatings. Karl has a guilty conscience about his secret relationships with his friend Dominic, a gifted singer, and the choirmaster Mr Cilliers. Feeling simultaneously in love with Dominic, Cilliers and his girlfriend Alette, he wonders if he loves or even likes his bushranger father, whose ideas and values differ so fundamentally from his own. This significant novel addresses issues of freedom and identity, divided loyalties and the political issues of apartheid in South Africa. The award-winning author writes with lyrical vitality and thought-provoking honesty. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Mark Behr
Born in Tanzania in 1963, Mark Behr later moved to South Africa with his family. His first novel THE SMELL OF APPLES won several awards and was shortlisted for several more.