Description - Mouthful of Glass by Henk van Woerden
In 1965, South African apartheid was in its heyday: the ANC had been smashed, and the architect of the racial system, Hendrik Verwoerd, was the country's aggressive Prime Minister. Demitrios Tsafendas, as a Coloured, a person of mixed race, should never have been allowed inside the whites-only Parliament Building in Pretoria, let alone so close to the Nationalist leader. Two blows with a knife was all it took. Tsafendas told the police that a tapeworm in his stomach had ordered the killing. He spent the rest of his days in prisons and mental hospitals, dying in late 1999. Henk van Woerden has made of this infinitely sad man's life a fable of racial madness, confusion and loss. Born of a Greek father and an African mother in colonial Mozambique, in his earliest childhood Tsafendas thought he was white, but when his father abandoned him he discovered that he was in some ambiguous category, unwanted, a lesser being. For the next four decades he travelled the world searching for something that would make him whole, wracked by mental illness, rejected and shunned by family and society alike. The author recreates the atmosphere of Tsafendas's wasted years meticulously, using the techniques of the novelist and the investigative journalist. This is a very powerful book, and in the English version by Dan Jacobson it has a simplicity and force reminiscent of the greatest non-fiction narratives.
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(216mm x 135mm x mm)
Publisher: Granta Books
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Author Biography - Henk van Woerden
Henk van Woerden is a prize-winning Dutch novelist. He was brought to South Africa as a child, returning to the Netherlands in his twenties. He now lives in Amsterdam. A long extract from A Mouth Full of Glass appeared in Granta 69, The Assassin.