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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing novel
Ben Du Toit teaches history and geography in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is the period of the height of the youth riots in the township of Soweto. At Ben's school, Gordon Ngubene, a native, is a cleaner and he occasionally does little chores for Ben. When Ben sees that Jonathan, Gordon's son, is showing signs of intelligence and diligence, he decides to partly finance...
Published on 6 Aug 2004 by HORAK

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anti-apartheid tale
A somewhat muddled but powerful novel about the atrocities perpetrated by the supporters of apartheid. It is written, at first, as though it had been purely entries in a diary written by the deceased friend of the author. However, there is a level where these entries move into, presumably, supposed fictional activity to an extent that the plot is uneven. There are...
Published on 12 July 2010 by P. Rowley-brooke


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing novel, 6 Aug 2004
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
Ben Du Toit teaches history and geography in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is the period of the height of the youth riots in the township of Soweto. At Ben's school, Gordon Ngubene, a native, is a cleaner and he occasionally does little chores for Ben. When Ben sees that Jonathan, Gordon's son, is showing signs of intelligence and diligence, he decides to partly finance his education. One day however, Jonathan takes part in a demonstration which ends up in a violent riot and is arrested by the police. A few weeks later, after a harrowing quest through countless offices, Ben and Gordon are informed that Jonathan died "of natural causes" while in detention.
Due to the mystery surrounding his son's death, Gordon gives up his job in order to devote himself entirely to the enquiries which have become an obsession with him. Both the Special Branch and the Security Police are annoyed about Gordon's insistence and soon enough Gordon is arrested. After numerous attempts to try to trace Gordon and speak to him, Ben and Gordon's wife Emily are told by the spokesman of the Security Police that Gordon apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with strips torn from his blanket.
But Ben Du Toit senses that the official explanations for both Jonathan's and Gordon's deaths are just a pretext for poorly disguised murders and so he decides to take matters in his own hands and starts investigating.
Mr Brink's novel is a harrowing account of a solitary man's fight against all the atrocities of the Apartheid. During this dark period in the history of South Africa, a white man had to be a real hero to fight for the right of the Afrikaners. The author beautifully captures the fact that Ben has to fight not only the resentment of the people of the other race, but also that of the people belonging to his own race - his family for a start. The descriptions of the townships of Johannesburg, particularly that of Soweto, are breathtaking in their accuracy and poignancy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ben du Toit stood up and lost everything except his conscience, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
Set in South Africa in the late 1970s, I wasn't really sure what to make of this book at first. I didn't find it easy to get into and it felt dated - so much has changed since then. Also, as the theme is most definitely political, I wasn't quite sure if the book itself was going to be more of a political statement than an exploration of emotions and feelings in an unfamiliar situation. Thankfully, it is more of the latter than the former.

The overt theme is the injustice of apartheid in South Africa and the impunity with which the the ruling whites could kill members of the black population. When it touches his life, Ben du Toit will not turn a blind eye. In doing so, he doesn't just anger the Security Police, he also exposes the weaknesses and prejudices of his friends, family and work colleagues and it is this less obvious theme that became the most compelling for me. If, in standing up for a moral issue that you cannot ignore, you also threaten the perceived security of those around you, it won't be long before they turn against you. That's how difficult it is to stand up and be counted. Ben du Toit, stood up and lost everything except his conscience.

Having finished this book last night I can now say that I'm very glad that I did read it. It's a book that explores the bigger themes that face us as human beings and I'm left with a feeling of having been taught something by someone whose work I would have liked to have been introduced to as a teenager. Better late than never.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave and Moving writing, 17 July 2008
This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
In Ben Du Toit, Andre Brink has created a character through which he can explore the revolt of the reasonable man when he is faced with the evidence of dishonesty and oppression. Ben Du Toit is a schoolteacher living an unremarkable life with his friends when he is appalled by the deaths of two members of the same black family at the hands of South Africa's security police. Du Toit is determined to pursue justice and to find out the truth even though this leads to the sacrifice of friends, family and career.
Unlike some of Brink's other novels, A Dry White Season uses a simple linear narrative and the story is told from Du Toit's point of view. This means we share the surprise and horror he feels when he is confronted with the evidence of injustice and brutality. We realise that he is a very ordinary man who finds the work he takes on for the black communities tiring. He is duped and manipulated yet he still pursues his quest. He is a Winston Smith type figure but this novel is set in the real world that was 1970s South Africa.
A Dry White Season was filmed in the 1990s although the film was undistinguished and did not really do justice to this remarkably brave and moving novel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, buy this book!, 29 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
Every so often you discover a writer who is so good you feel you have to read all his work. Brink is such a writer. His ability to disseminate the inherent prejudices and corruptions of South African politics is wondrous. I cannot rate this novel highly enough
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very good book on South Africa, 13 Jan 2010
By 
Enrico Cancellotti "Canch" (Gabicce Mare) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
I started to read this book just for curiosity because I was intrigued by an Afrikaner writing against the Apartheid regime when this system was still in place. I discovered a fantastic book that took me going page after page without stopping.
The story is very powerful and strong but it also gives a perfect picture of the South Africa of those days with all the barriers and the problems. If you love that country as I do you will definitely love this book.
There is also e film done on this book with great actors such as Marlon Brando, Susan Sarandon and Donald Sutherland. Now I am looking forward to watching it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, awesome end, 13 Oct 2009
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This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
I found this novel hard to get into and slow to get going. What I didn't realise at the time is that this accumulation of pace exactly echoes what happens to the protagonist, Ben du Toit. His 'rebellion' against the state starts slowly, he doesn't rush into anything - he doesn't like to rock the boat. But as soon as he begins to investigate the death of a man he knows, events soon overtake him and his life spirals out of control.

The final quarter-ish of the novel is claustrophic and truly scary - especially as apartheid South Africa is not the figment of a novelist's imagination, but a real time and place not many years ago. As Ben's fate draws near the novel reminded me strongly of 1984 - the lovers' not-so-secret hideaway is just one example.

A really outstanding, powerful book. I'm looking forward to watching the movie that's been made of this. Hopefully it's not been Hollywood-ised.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, thought-provoking and heart-breaking novel, 14 July 2003
The protagonist of A Dry White Season is an Everyman character who allows us an entry into the world of South-Africa. Ben du Toit's struggle to save the life and, later, the name of one man comes to dominate his life. But it's never just about one man fighting for another, it's about how you choose to define yourself; if you stand back and let oppression happen then you are one of the oppressors.
Knowing only vaguely about the apartheid regime in South-Africa, this novel gave me a sense of the total oppression - both of white and black people - living in that time. I would thoroughly recommend this novel as it challenges you, while being exquisitely written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing and powerful book, 29 Jun 2009
By 
Charlotte Wilson (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dry White Season (Hardcover)
This book was recommended to me by a south African friend and I read it in two sittings, unable to put the book down until I knew how the plot could possibly resolve.
The book is interestingly constructed with two narrators and jumps from first to third person and from past to present tense depending upon who is telling the tale at the time. The writing is amazing with a wonderful interplay between the light and dark worlds, both literally and figuratively. One thing you should know - this book doesn't end well - not a sploiler, we find out in the first few pages- and is not a easy read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and tragic, 9 Sep 2014
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This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
This is a compelling and tragic story that arises out of racial division in South Africa before the end of apartheid. Those that have, in this case the Afrikaners, give themselves the right to employ any means at all to destroy opposition, and get away with it because of the collective paranoia of their side that prevents questions being asked. Although focused on events rather than labouring the underlining morals, this is a powerful argument against any kind of polarisation, division or separation in society, and there are plenty of those around or in the making.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely buy this book!, 23 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Dry White Season (Paperback)
I could not put this book down for a moment. If you're interested in South Africa in the 80s, this is a must-read. Andre Brink is really a fantastic writer.
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A Dry White Season
A Dry White Season by André Brink (Paperback - 3 Dec 1992)
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