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It is 1825 and high in the mountains of South Africa a group of slaves stand accused of the murder of their owner, Nicolass van der Merwe, a wealthy Afrikaner farmer. Galant, the van der Merwe family's chief hand, is held leader of the murderous band. Raised with the two sons of the house, it was not until adulthood and rivalry over Hester, orphaned daughter of a tenant farmer, that he realised their different roles, their unequal futures and opposed stations in life. "A Chain Of Voices" stands as a prophetic lesson - when hopes of freedom from slavery are dashed, and when promises of equal treatment are broken, an escalating spiral of bitterness, resentment, and finally, explosive violence is inevitable.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749396367
ISBN-10: 0749396369
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 4mm)
Pages: 512
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 16-Jan-1995
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Through thin strands of individual narrative by the participating characters (the "chain of voices"), Brink's novel reconstructs an 1823 up-country South African slave revolt - a revolt that smolders long, flares murderously (on a limited scale), but then is quickly snuffed. The van der Merwe family, Afrikans farmers, are the slave owners: old, dictatorial Piet; chip-off-the-old-block son Berend; meeker second son Nicolaas. But when Berend marries Hester, a girl who has been taken in by the family as a ward, Nicolaas - who pines for her - must settle instead for the prissy, pious Cecelia. So, for restless Nicolaas, sex is only possible with slave women - especially with the consorts of Galant, a slave whom Nicolaas grew up with almost as a brother. And Nicolaas' frustrated rage, which ebbs and peaks, will lead to the maltreatment (even the death) of Galant's children - and to the revolt, which is shown to arise from intertwined personal and social causes. Brink (Rumours of Rain, A Dry White Season) does an impressive job throughout in knitting the intimacy between owners and slaves, in showing motives uncamouflaged; each flogging is like yet one more knife thrown into a dangerous and dark bag whose seams bulge ominously. Less impressive, however, is the narrative structure: the voices of the title don't really link as a chain - they bite like small tacks. And, as in William Styron's not dissimilar Confessions of Nat Turner, the theme here - the sex/politics interface - often seems too simplistic in its determinism. So: a somewhat contrived historical reconstruction - but, like Brink's other work, admirably ambitious and fully, thoughtfully fictionalized. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Andre Brink

Andre Brink (1935 - 2015) was one of South Africa's most prominent writers and is the author of several novels, including A Dry White Season, Imaginings of Sand, The Rights of Desire, The Other Side of Silence and Philida. He has won South Africa's most important literay prize, the CNA Award, three times and has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His last novel, Philida, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2012.

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