Debut novelist Fugard eloquently weaves family and political upheaval into a compelling post-apartheid tale.
In September 1997, Eva van Rensberg, a feisty woman of English and Afrikaner descent, returns quietly to South Africa after a decade abroad to visit her dying father, Martin. Her reconciliations with both her country and her parent are bittersweet, as she realizes how much her homeland has changed—and how Martin has not. Eva’s memories, and a collection of her mother’s diaries that she discovers, take us back to her childhood on Skinner’s Drift, a farm in the Limpopo Valley. Tensions there are high in 1984—a drought has ruined Martin’s crop, his marriage is on the rocks and the farm is being patrolled by soldiers watching for terrorists. For Lefu, a black farmhand, the most disturbing change is undergone by Miss Eva, who has returned from boarding school a sullen and secretive teenager who now accompanies her father on vicious nightly hunts. When Eva begins asking Lefu to help her bury Martin’s prey, he comes to understand how dangerous his alcoholic boss is. But are mutilated jackals the only secret that Eva is burying at Skinner’s Drift? Fugard’s plot is gripping and her prose is effortless, but what is most impressive is her ability to effectively explore broad themes through a family story.
A dazzling debut.