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In a small South African town in the Transvaal, a minor incident blossoms quickly and malignantly: a washerwoman, accused of stealing a collar from a white family's laundry, reacts furiously at her accuser and is promptly thereafter arrested for theft and assault. The woman's husband, protesting, is killed accidentally by a nervous white policeman--and so it inexorably starts: police blindly shooting other police by mistake; a mass meeting of the black section of the town--which ends when the white commissioner is driven from the stage; a night of brutal raids; murder; total anarchy. The character of the white commissioner, an innocent named DuToit, is balanced by the portrait of the strong but quiet black leader, Masabo: both are forced, reluctantly, into positions of destructiveness. But the real dynamo of Bloom's novel (published originally in 1956 in England, now published here posthumously) is the one behind the charting of the growing ""episode"" itself: the riot moves like an eyeless organism--first slow, then frenzied, breaking up, conglomerating, beyond everyone's better sense. . . as it feeds off nothing but rage. With social situations in South Africa little changed more than 20 years later, this book has an obvious air of prophecy to it--and, though narrowly focused, it's strong fiction unquestionably worthy of long-overdue US interest.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Second Chance Press--dist. by Watts