The final days of apartheid are the setting for the salvation of Leon, a determinedly nonheroic South African exile, in this ambitious third novel (Middlepost, 1989, etc.) from South African- born actor and writer Sher, now living in London. When the Soweto riots break out in 1976, Leon Lipschitz, heir to a shipping fortune, is in Britain on holiday. Gay and Jewish, Leon lives a life of dissolute luxury on generous allowances from his family. He drinks heavily, takes drugs, and has numerous sexual encounters, but an accidental meeting with anti-apartheid protester Angela, a British teacher, convinces him that he should leave South Africa--``The writing was on the wall back in S.A. and the writing said AMANDLA...black power, since I didn't fancy getting butchered in my bed, I slipped on my running shoes.'' In the early 80's, aware of the three A's at his heels--Apartheid, Anti-Semitism, and AIDS--Leon marries Angela as another form of escape, but increasingly he finds he can neither escape South Africa nor his homosexuality. A trip back is planned, but before the two leave, Leon meets the mysterious and handsome young Afrikaner Gertjie, who claims to have fled South Africa for political reasons. Back in South Africa, Leon finds his family and the country in the throes of painful change. Forced at last to assume some responsibility for others, Leon tries to help his aging father, whose associates are abandoning him. And in a mad drive across country in the family Rolls-Royce, Leon learns the truth about Gertjie and, for the first time, finds himself fighting rather than running away. Despite the politics, sex, drugs, and booze: an old-fashioned story of redemption, with a reluctant hero and a slew of credible characters. Slow to start but ultimately gripping.