From anti-apartheid revolutionary to aging exile, Henry Wegland struggles to balance truth and justice, love and passion; in this gentle and heartfelt first novel, nothing is black and white.
It's 1961. A year has passed since the Sharpeville massacre, and organized resistance against apartheid is picking up steam in South Africa. A young white lawyer has decided he must join the newly formed military wing of the African National Congress; the risks to his family, his career, and his safety weigh in the balance against the future of his country. Other comrades—Nelson, Walter, Slovo—face the same dangers. A lifetime later, Henry, living with his son’s family in Park Slope, Brooklyn, sends his grandson, Saul, to a very different South Africa in search of the loose ends of an eventful life. Debut novelist Schneider spans continents, decades, and generations as he skillfully interweaves Henry’s immigrant childhood with his activist years and reflective old age with vivid immediacy. The diverse cast of characters—young and old; African, European, and American—is deftly drawn with compassion and respect. The novel is finely plotted and lucidly written, with touches of sensuality and lyricism and a keen attention to emotional truth. Schneider tenderly evokes at once the slow decay of marriages and parent-child relationships and the long half-lives of passion and family history; he subtly demonstrates the way trust is eroded by secrecy and how the seed of love can generate love, even across decades.
A thoughtful look back at one of the great movements for social and political change of the last century and its ramifications in the present through the life of one man. It will reward readers interested in South African history as well as those who simply want to be drawn into the well-told story of an unusual life.