Monday, September 20, 2010
book review - Kings of the Water - Mark Behr
This book unravels like an onion with it matching that vegetable for its power to start the tear ducts tingling.
The fact that it manages to get you feeling involved and connected with the lives of a farm running family in South Africa is something that you would struggle to predict at the start.
With things starting with a son flying home from America to South Africa to attend his mother's funeral the reader struggles to get to grips with the landscape and the history. Both unfold bit by bit leaving you understanding more about the lead characters but also more about the country.
The family at the heart of the story have lived and run a farm for generations through the years of apartheid. Now things in the country have changed but the ghostly trace of previous attitudes remains and are heightened for someone who has not visited the country for many years.
But why has Michael not visited for so long? His disgrace leaving a pregnant girlfriend and being demoted in the army because of a homosexual encounter with a fellow solider haunt him and his family.
Coming back for his mother's funeral he has to face the people he hurt and face the bitterness of his father. The fact his eldest brother, who drowned, was also gay and took his own life to avoid death through AIDS is an extra twist that weakens the position of the father even more.
But as much as this is about personal reconciliation and forgiveness it is also about South Africa. The past can never be forgotten but it is the way people not only act now but how they act given their past that counts.
Posted by Simon Quicke at 9:40 am