A SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT by Christopher Hope
Kirkus Star

A SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Harry Moto is a young white South African living in Port Elizabeth, attending a Catholic high school. He's no one remarkable, just one of the guys--except for a few physical problems: fallen arches, fleshy breasts, hair that crinkles, and a naturally dark complexion. And when, at the graduation-night school dance, Harry gets caught half-undressed with girlfriend Mary Smithson, his parents' shame drives him from home: he winds up working for the Indian-owned Raboobie's Outfitters, purveyor of cheap and garish men's clothing in the bazaar-like district of Koelietown. So, since Harry looks so racially iffy and works for Raboobie, he's taken to be a Coloured. Furthermore, his next job is as chauffeur for a traveling salesman named Epstein who hawks skin-lighteners to blacks; and Harry obligingly goes on to pass for a light Black, an example of the ""After"" the suckers will resemble if they'll only buy Epstein's creams. Friendship with a black wheeler-dealer named Koosie ensues; then a busboy job at a drive-in and a sexual re-encounter with Mary--leading to arrest for. . . miscegnation! Thus, it all adds up to a sort of South African Invisible Man in reverse, as Harry keeps dropping the wrong way through apartheid society. Funny, satirical, and wonderfully unexpected (a spoof from South Africa?!): a fine, short depiction of relentless mistake and very shadowy laughter.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1981
Publisher: Scribners