Tue, Mar 20, 2012 - Page 16 News List

Book review: Ugly as sin

Partick Flanery’s new novel is a timely debut about South African guilt

By Christopher Hope  /  The Guardian, London

Wald’s dilemma is how to face her failings and stand up for what she has written. Writers of all stripes have a history of provoking South African regimes, all the way back to the very first settlements. The apartheid government took words into state ownership, perverted the meaning of some and forbade the use of others. And many people accepted this as normal.

But then as another American writer, Allen Drury, remarked nearly 50 years ago, after traveling through the country in a state of perpetual astonishment, South Africa is “a very strange society.” His book of that title was banned by the masters of apartheid. With censorship now likely to make a comeback under the current government, what writers do becomes increasingly important. And a novel like Absolution is timely.

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