Hardcover: 286 pages
Publisher: C&R Press (September 21, 2014)
This novel is set in South Africa and it uses a lot of the local language and slang in the story. It did make it a bit confusing at first, but there are footnotes and once you learn what the word means the story flows along. The characters are not necessarily likable, but they tell an intriguing story that sticks with you.
What I enjoy about novels such as this is that while you may not respect or relate to the characters or be unable to stop wincing during some of the story line - it is the type of novel that opens your eyes to other places in the world and other situations - making it valuable.
It is the mid-1980s, the era of so-called reformist apartheid, and South
Africa is in flames. Police and military are gunning down children at
the forefront of the liberation struggle. Far from such action, it
seems, a small party of four is traveling by minibus to the north of the
country, close to the border with Zimbabwe. Their aim is to shoot a
documentary on the discovery of a prehistoric skull that Professor Digby
Bamford boasts is evidence that, "True man first arose in southern
Africa." Boozy, self-absorbed Professor Bamford is unaware that his
young lover, Vicky, brings with her some complications. Rian, the
videographer, was once in love with her, and his passion has been
reignited. Bucs, a young man from the townships, is doing his best not
to be involved in the increasingly deadly tensions.
provocative, brilliantly written, The Unspeakable is as unforgettable as
it is unsettling. Told in the first person by Rian, it centers on the
conflicted being of the white male under apartheid. Unlike many of the
great novels of the era, it renounces any claim to the relative safety
zone of moralistic dissociation from the racist crime against humanity,
and cuts instead to the quick of complicity. It is sometimes said of
Albert Camus's The Stranger that everything would have turned out very
differently, had the murder only taken place "a few hundred miles to the
south." This is that South with a vengeance.