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Ben du Toit is an ordinary, decent, harmless man, unremarkable in every way - until his sense of justice is outraged by the death of a man he has known. His friend died at the hands of the police. In the beginning it appears a straightforward matter, an unfortunate error that can be explained and put right. But as Ben investigates further he finds that his curiosity becomes labelled rebellion - and for a rebel there is no way back.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749399894
ISBN-10: 0749399899
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 19mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Dec-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » South Africa. Ben DuToit, a Johannesburg Afrikaaner schoolteacher and church elder, with married daughters and a teenager son, sympathizes when the son of his school's black janitor, Gordon Ngubene, is detained by authorities and later declared dead. Gordon's inquiries into the death lead, in turn, to his own arrest and subsequent death (ruled a suicide, but clearly - to Ben - a murder); so decent Ben feels that Gordon's death deserves at least some further delving-into. The result is predictable: Ben is gradually milled down. The Special Branch searches his house, taps his phone, reads his mail. His solacing friendship with a young woman journalist, Melanie Bruwer, is uglified when his one and only night with her results in blackmail photos sent to wife and boss. Eventually he's forced out of marriage, work, and church. And a fatal "accident" - hit by a car in the street - is the logical finale to a heroic interest and fidelity that's been too discomforting to the powers-that-be. . . . What Nadine Gordimer's characters take as inherent knowledge - the South African state's repression and, if need be, terror - Brink makes explicit, with an unfortunate sacrifice of character plausibility: the Special Branch villains are cardboard; the British-passport-holding Melanie is too vague (is she a guerrilla contact?); and the blacks who support Ben - knowing that he can get at least a foot in official doors that they can't - sometimes seem more like portents than people ("All I know is something big and bloody has started and nobody knows what the hell is going to happen"). No subtlety here, then, with less texture and color than in Rumours of Rain (1978), which remains Brink's best work to date. But, as an honorable good/bad fable, this rather shaky fiction carries the moral weight of all right-minded work from South Africa's turmoil. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Andre Brink

Andre Brink is the author of several novels in English, including A Dry White Season, Imaginings of Sand, The Rights of Desire and The Other Side of Silence. He has won South Africa's most important literary prize, the CNA Award, three times, has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and, in 2012, longlisted for his novel Philida.

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