JANUARY SUN: One Day, Three Lives, A South African Town by Richard Stengel

JANUARY SUN: One Day, Three Lives, A South African Town

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Sensitive to every nuance and telling detail, Stengel, a contributing editor to Time, has effectively used a typical day in the lives of three South Africans to explore that troubled society. All three men live either in Brits, a small South African town in the conservative heartland, or in its neighboring black township. And all three, not surprisingly, lead three very different and separate lives. Divided into three section, Stengel's narrative accompanies each one through the morning, afternoon, and evening of a day in January. The first man we meet, Dr. de la Rey, a white veterinarian, lives to work. Conservative in politics, and a firm believer in education, he is not unsympathetic to blacks but is unwilling to grant them full political rights. As he goes about his work of teaching the local farmers artificial insemination to improve their cattle, and extracting embryos for implantation, he talks frankly about his experiences and his fears. Life, the second man, is a black sometime activist, currently unemployed, who lives in the old township, a warm and vibrant neighborhood, which the white city council wants to move. Like most of the township dwellers, Life admires all things American. He is also, for all his radical talk, a true conservative. It's not change, but security of job and home he wants, a permanence the present political system has denied him. The third man, Jai, is the outsider, who--unlike de la Rey or Life--has no deep roots in the community. A Hindu surrounded by Muslims, an Indian who occupies an uneasy middle ground between black and white, who wanted to be an architect but because of family loyalty left college to run the family store, Jai lives only for the evenings spent in Johannesburg and Pretoria, where the racial climate is more tolerant and the entertainment more stimulating. A timely account of the strains and divisions within South Africa--as well as a description of small-town life that evokes a universal mood of isolation, a yearning for a wider world.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
ISBN: 1439195145
Publisher: Simon & Schuster