This is the autobiography of the South African novelist Andre Brink. The quality of expression is high, as one would expect from an accomplished writer.
One of the strengths is the insight to Andre's sources of inspiration - the people he has met, plays he has seen and books he has read which have influenced his world view and his writing. I think this always helps us understand who a person is and it can also give the reader fresh ground to explore. I am grateful to Andre for introducing me to the poet Ingrid Jonker, with whom he shared love before her early death. This is discussed in the context of the Sestigers (Sixtiers) generation of Afrikaans writers.
Andre is a Francophile and, perhaps because of his name, I had assumed that he was of Huguenot descent; but he is Afrikaans and he elucidates well the tension felt by many Afrikaaners of not wanting to betray their clan while at the same time feeling repugnance at the racism and fascism encapsulated in 'apartheid'. Neither is he afraid to speak out at the injustices and corruption in the post-Mandela Government. He argues that the written word is the one effective weapon that he, as a writer, could use to agitate during the long years of apartheid.
Weaknesses? I found only one trivial error of fact. There is occasional pretentiousness and name dropping which can be irritating, e.g. 'The only disappointment about the visit was that Oliver Tambo could not make it to Thabo's house in time before I had to catch my plane home'. Strangely, there is almost no reference to his contemporary J.M.Coetzee - as Afrikaans authors working in the same University, they must have known each other. (But there are many recollections about Breyten Breytenbach, the other modern giant of South African literature.) In the chapter 'Salzburg: A State of Mind' there is a tedious moan about the administration of the Salzburg opera - this is of no interest to the reader. Throughout the book I was worried about reading the last chapter, 'Postscript: A Letter to Karina' (his young wife), expecting a gushy and embarrassing end, but I need not have been concerned. I did find it difficult to know how many times Andre had been married, when and to whom.
On balance, this is an autobiography of substance in which the author has opened his life to us (with a few, entirely proper, exceptions). It furthers our understanding of literary and political life in South Africa. I would strongly recommend this book if you have an interest in South African literature or the Afrikaaner condition. But the engaging style of writing and the wider references to the arts mean that this book will also be enjoyed by everyone who is interested in literary life, Africa, politics, and love.