Books by Michael Williams

DIAMOND BOY by Michael Williams
Released: Dec. 2, 2014

"A haunting, harrowing tale guaranteed to give 'bling' a whole new meaning. (author notes, glossary). (Fiction. 12-18)"
In this sprawling, messy but compelling epic, a teenager and his family join other desperate Zimbabweans seeking a future in Marange's diamond mines. Read full book review >
Released: July 5, 2011

"Williams, a renowned dramatist, gives readers compelling characters and, in simple language, delivers a complicated story rooted—sadly and upliftingly—in very real events. (author's note, glossary) (Fiction. 12 & up)"
A harrowing tale of modern Zimbabwe. Read full book review >
ALLAMANDA by Michael Williams
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

The fantasy saga of the Hawken family continues, ten years after the events of Arcady (1996). Drunken old Endymion skulks in the huge, rambling, decaying house, Arcady, until his son Garrick discovers an Absence—a terrifying, wandering, formless, all- consuming blob of space—beneath it. So the Hawkens must abandon Arcady and head for their last estate, Allamanda, presently occupied by Allegra and family—who are none too pleased to see the refugees. Along the way they've picked up Solomon, who, despite a tarring and feathering, remains convinced that his version of the holy writ, the New Text, will defeat the Absences. While Allegra schemes over the fate of Allamanda and recruits her son Miles as a spy, Garrick shows an interest in Miles's sister Flora. But the girl becomes trapped inside an Absence. So Garrick, troubled by dreamlike blackouts, must brave the Absence and its horrid inhabitants—filthy, ragged, feral children known as Blights—to rescue her. What with the sumptuous backdrop, gaps in logic, glacially slow pace, and plethora of poetry, fans of the previous book should feel right at home. Read full book review >
ARCADY by Michael Williams
Released: April 1, 1996

In a futuristic fantasy from paperback author Williams, set millennia after some disaster has destroyed a technological civilization, a huge poetic jumble (drawn principally from William Blake's prophetic books), known as the Text, is accepted as holy writ and considered to possess magical properties. But eerie, wandering Absences—swirling, terrifying blobs of magical other- reality—are slowly eroding the landscape and now threaten to annihilate Arcady, the sprawling estate occupied for centuries by the Hawken family. In the Border forests nearby, a civil war rages between Citizen Arouet's guardsmen and Hawken cousin Artemis's rebel partisans. Aunt Morgana summons the various, far-flung Hawken relatives to defend Arcady, and they respond. Then, however, Morgana rushes off, brother Solomon decamps, brother Endymion flees with his companion phoenix, Khole, while one-legged Diego's incompetent guardsmen clash with Artemis's well-drilled partisans. Inside an Absence, Khole is transformed into an angel and instructs Solomon on how, using real magic, he must tame the Absences—which are sentient and evil and have been set adrift by Arouet's mining operations. A sort of ecological parable? Maybe—the ideas here have a certain alluring, incoherent sumptuousness. A shame, though, about the long-winded narrative, unevocative prose, and whimsical plotting. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1994

The hunt for a mysterious yellowwood box becomes a Capetown teenager's quest for identity in this busy story from the author of Crocodile Burning (1992). Jay's grandfather has died, leaving no explanation of why, ten years earlier, he suddenly disappeared, abandoning his family and a prosperous business. In hopes of an answer, Jay gathers an assortment of companions, including Levi, a secretive 9-year-old with telltale bruises on his face, and sets out in his grandfather's ancient van to track down a storage box that the old man left to him. The search takes Jay from oily Uncle Peter's posh suburban house to a hut in the Knysna Forest, with stops in a township and at a home for abandoned children. Meanwhile, it takes on symbolic meaning for Jay, who seeks not only clues to his family's past but also direction in his own life. Williams draws random plot elements from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and shoehorns in several subplots—Jay's senile grandmother takes to swallowing silverware; he learns that Uncle Peter has not only had a relationship with his mother (oddly, Jay sees her as guiltless) but has been misusing trust funds that are rightfully his; and Levi is ultimately beaten to death by his mother's abusive boyfriend. The box turns out to contain legal documents plus almost 200 stories, all unfinished—his grandfather's real legacy and the spark that sets Jay on the road to becoming a writer. Some poignant moments and a rather dark sense of humor help to tie the disparate elements together. (Fiction. YA) Read full book review >
INTO THE VALLEY by Michael Williams
Released: June 23, 1993

Walter, a 16-year-old South African whose brother has just died in a military accident, is troubled by how little he knows about what goes on in his own country. When he reads about a band of Zulu boys who've sworn to defend their Natal town against rival Inkathas, he decides to seek out their leader, ``Biko.'' But though local people are polite, they wonder what the naive white boy is doing in their riot-torn province. Soon, skirting a minefield of issues and in serious danger, Walter is wondering too. He examines the mysteries—and his own motives—in a deftly wrought morality play in which he's exposed to white farmers, a corrupt factory- owner, the officer in charge of white troops, a store-owner, and a sage Indian potter, while continual shifts in point of view shed light on each character's dilemma. Eventually, Walter confronts the misguided ``Biko'' while the author works through the consequences. Williams (Crocodile Burning, 1992) is primarily a dramatist; his scenes and dialogue are strong, but he omits transitions and nuances that might be self-evident in theater—black characters, especially, are viewed from a white perspective, even where Walter isn't the narrator. Still, a high-caliber adventure that offers a thoughtful insider's view of a complex, intransigent cultural conflict. Winner of South Africa's 1990 Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
CROCODILE BURNING by Michael Williams
Released: Aug. 1, 1992

Seraki's Soweto life takes a new direction when, almost by accident, he lands a part in a musical drama. The angry play is called iSezela, after a powerful, menacing crocodile in African myth, symbol of many kinds of oppression. The crocodile haunts Seraki: His brother Phakane is a political prisoner; the Naughty Boys, a gang of urban terrorists, is extorting money from his family; and the play, initially a liberating experience, becomes a nightmarish trap after its wild success in South Africa leads to a Broadway run and the director, Mosake, changes from inspirational leader to violent, exploitative tyrant. The author's theatrical experience stands him in good stead; readers will get a good sense of the work involved in a stage production and the heady feeling when it all comes together. While his lurid, harshly ironic portrait of N.Y.C. is unconvincing, Williams's insider's view of South Africa will open some eyes. The book ends on several hopeful notes: Seraki and the rest of the cast confront Masake, negotiate fairer contracts, and celebrate Nelson Mandela's release and also Phakane's—the crocodile's grip is slipping. ``So many things are happening in this country, Seraki, so many good things!'' (Fiction. 12-15) Read full book review >