Novella-length fable from South African writer Brink (An Act of Terror, 1989, etc.) that playfully suggests a mythic origin for his country's entangled cultures. Brink first takes a classic Greek legend that recounts the tragic love of the Titan Adamastos for Thetis, Nymph and Princess of the Wave, whose attempts at consummation are followed by Zeus turning him into the ``jagged outcrop of the Cape peninsula''; he then adds a few refinements, suggested by the great Portuguese poet Camoes, who transformed Adamastos into Adamastor, the god of the Cape of Storms—it is this Adamastor who apocalyptically warned of storms that would leave a beautiful shipwrecked victim at the mercy of the indigenous peoples, one of whom would become her lover. Finally, Brink adds his own twist as he invents the story of the Portuguese woman who, left behind by sailors frightened by the natives' assaults, is loved by T`kama, chief of the Khoikhoin, the tribe that once lived at the Cape. T`kama, who will die many deaths over the centuries, leads his reluctant tribesmen—along with the woman—into the interior. Attempts to consummate his love are frustrated, as his member—despite the ministrations of a healer- -begins to assume a huge and uncomfortable size; meanwhile, the tribe is beset with unnatural disasters, and, holding the woman responsible, beg T`kama to leave her behind. Thanks to the intervention of a well-placed crocodile, however, love finally conquers all, a child is born, and the tribe's fortunes improve. This brief happiness will end when, back in the Cape, the woman is kidnapped by sailors, leaving the child behind—a child of mixed race who lives on as consolation for the grieving T`kama, who has learned ``how dangerous it is to love.'' Brink has wittily created a splendid new myth in which primal emotions expand in a magical landscape—one rich in local allusions and profound foreshadowing and, in keeping with the genre, suitably bawdy.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-79907-X

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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