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 A continuation of the late South African writer Rive's fictional account of the black struggle in South Africa begun with his first novel, Emergency (1970--not reviewed), a chronicle of the 1960's. With the same protagonist, Andrew Dreyer, the narrative has moved to 1985--a period not only of great political unrest but of increased tensions between the generations. Dreyer, a teacher and failed writer, has sought to isolate himself from his activist past and failed love affair with a white woman, Ruth, by living a conventional life. He has married, has two children, and is relatively prosperous but lonely and unhappy. And when black schoolchildren revolt against the system, and the violence spreads, schools close, children are arrested, and killed in protests, Dreyer--like many of the older generation--is uneasy with the young people's emphasis on conformity and confrontation. But when his activist son Bradley disappears, Dreyer becomes increasingly involved in events as he searches for his son and meets friends from the past. It is as much a search for his son as for his former self, and it is recorded here by Dreyer partly in letters to an old friend in Canada and partly in a ``novel that was about a writer writing a novel, that was incomplete, because it was waiting for the next section to happen...a blur between fact and fiction.'' Though the prose is at times pedestrian, Rive movingly describes the terrible toll apartheid has taken on individuals, families, and whole communities. A memorable portrait of a particular time, place, and condition.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-930523-87-3
Page count: 190pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991