Year of Publication: 1981
I must confess here that I started off with the story and did not quite get along with it. Rather, it was when I was three or four chapters away that I began to link pieces of thoughts here and there so as to get involved with the story. And even so, there were parts not well sunk and appreciable. And so I went in for a second reading considering the fact that it is a small book and that somewhat did the trick.
The book centers around July and the Smales family. The book is written in a period when black South Africans are killing the white minority rulers in the country. The Smales family – Bam and Maureen and their three children are helped by July as he journeys them to his small village. July has been a faithful servant to the Smales for a very long time.
In the village in which July takes them, conditions are very hard and so the Smales must struggle to abide. There is almost no good water, no electricity and those basic amenities are all absent. What the writer clearly seems to portray here is that there is a shift in position, change of environment and the issue of race very much predominant here. The Smales family have to struggle to cope with the realities of their new state.
As I already hinted from the beginning, it could be hard to read this, even twice and not discern properly from the events that take place in the story. In that sense, the reader must be prepared not to overlook detail. I noticed that the sentence construction throughout the novel was odd and seems to be unique to the writer. I also found it difficult at certain points to find out who and who were speaking due to unnamed speakers as with the dialogue.
Yet, all in all, a very good and powerful story. Or if it was not, why was it banned in South Africa after its publication in 1981?