on 9 July 2008
Set in South Africa in 1825, the slaves of a remote mountainous farm turn against their master and his family in an outbreak of violence.
Brink's novel, first published in 1982, is an exploration of the conditions of a society in which some men are born to be masters and others to be slaves. It is a fascinating exploration of the two main central characters who grow up together only to find themselves in violent opposition and the figure of Galant, the leader of the rebels, imbued with a noble sense of the hopelessness of his uprising, is a remarkable piece of characterisation.
The novel is written from the viewpoints of multiple narrators, exploring the misunderstandings and prejudices that help to create divisions within societies; the writing has a seductive, poetic quality and Brink's ability to recreate the physical landscapes of his homeland is superb.
on 9 February 2009
A CHAIN OF VOICES - ANDRE BRINK.
SOUTH AFRICA. 1825
A group of black slaves is charged with the murder of their master, the late Nicholaas vander Merwe. High up in the mountains of the Cape, on a remote Afrikaner farmstead, seven days by wagon from Cape Town an act of rebellion has taken place that will stand forever as the challenge of a subject people to the supremacy of white power.
THIS IS THE STORY,
inspired by real events, of two boys, one white, one black, whose lives are linked by the rules and obligations of Afrikaner society. As they grow up, however, one the master, the other the slave, their relationship gradually turns sour. Nicholaas is too weak to fulfill the role of boss. Galant is too strong-willed and certain to be content with the pain and deprivation of being nothing more than the white man's chattel.
AS THE VOICES
of the novel begin to speak - Nicholaas, his brother Barend, his father, Hester, Rose the old black nurse, together with all the other inhabitants of Houd-den-Bek - Andre Brink unfolds a drama of cruelty and exploitation with the relentless tempo of a master storyteller.
THE THEMES OF SLAVERY
and rebellion find more and more fateful expression in the lives of Nicholaas and Galant. Ironically, the more they clash, the more they find themselves bound together by circumstances and by their own conflicting desires. The novel moves to its horrifying climax with the inexorable power of Greek tragedy.
In 'A CHAIN OF VOICES',
Andre Brink has created for South Africa, and for all those for whom the South African predicament is one of the most disturbing and poignant of our time, a myth that challenges the tyranny of apertheid. Yet, like all great literature, the novel transforms a political statement into a compelling and moving artistic achievement.