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As startling and powerful as when first published than two decades ago André Brink's classic novel A Dry White Season is an unflinching and unforgettable look at racial intolerance the human condition and the heavy price of moralityBen Du Toit is a white schoolteacher in suburban Johannesburg. This is probably Brink s most deservedly famous book and I have been wanting to read since reading Rumours Of Rain last year It is an impassioned and often brutal account of what happens when an ordinary man uestions an authoritarian state in this case the apartheid South Africa of the 70sBen Du Toit is an ordinary Afrikaner school history teacher He becomes involved when the first son of his school s caretaker a boy who has worked for Ben s family dies while being held by the security police The caretaker Gordon Ngubene is unable to accept the official explanation and involves Ben in his investigations Gordon is arrested and also dies in custody and the police claim that he hanged himselfThe book follows Ben s dogged pursuit of the truth and how the apparatus of the state frustrates it ultimately murderously and the way this affects Ben s friends and families There is a framing device of a prologue and epilogue which introduce the ghost writer an old college friend and writer of cheap romantic fiction with whom Ben has entrusted the notes he has kept hiddenBrink is very strong on the mechanisms and compromises that make ordinary people complicit with the excesses of the state but like his hero Ben he never entirely loses hope that the uestioning will eventually bring change and in the light of what happened over the next decade in South Africa this seems very prescient

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'n Droë Wit Seisoen

Uestions and desperate to believe that the man's death was a tragic accident Du Toit undertakes an investigation into the terrible affair a uest for the truth that will have devastating conseuences for the teacher and his family as it draws him into a lethal morass of lies corruption and murder. It has long been my habit to start a book by looking at the cover giving than a glance at the copyright page skimming the acknowledgements and scanning the table of contents before beginning the actual book Surprisingly the copyright page occasionally offers something I might not find elsewhere This book offered than the usual fiction disclaimer Nothing in this novel has been invented and the climate history and circumstances from which it arises are those of South Africa today But separate events and people have been recast in the context of a novel in which they exist as fiction only It is not the surface reality that is important but the patterns and relationships underneath that surface Therefore all resemblance between the characters and incidents in this book and people and situations outside is strictly coincidentalFirst published in 1979 this is a story of Apartheid in South Africa How can one not have known of the systematic racial discrimination of the time We outsiders knew it was wrong but did we actually realize its full extent No I did not see the movie made from this bookThe novel begins with a foreword by a fictional author At least I thought it was fictional but perhaps it was in fact Andr Brink inserting himself into the novel He tells how he knew Ben du Toit in school had not seen him for many years and then was contacted by du Toit He says after du Toit was killed in a hit and run accident at 11pm at night The author is in receipt of du Toit s papers notes diaries There is also a short epilogue where the fictional authorBrink says he wrote the novel so no one could say he didn t knowThe story itself begins at approximately the time of the Soweto uprising A young man in whom du Toit had taken a special interest was involved Jonathan Ngubene goes missing and though uestions are asked of the Special Branch they say they know nothing Then rumors begin to surface I don t see how it is possible for any reader to lay this asideThis is a compelling story especially due to the copyright disclaimer Nothing in this novel has been invented It is made compelling by the way Brink tells it his writing Normally I would bristle at sentence fragments There are only two or three instances where Brink inserts them into the prose and I chose to think of them as impressionism in the same way a painter does Constables loitering on the pavement with deliberate idleness Cypresses and aloes A hospital atmosphere inside Stern corridors open doors revealing men writing at desks in small offices shut doors blank wallsMost of this is written in third person limited from the point of view of Ben du Toit But there was one place where Brink switches to second person It is very uiet in the office There are steel bars in front of the window It hits you in the solar plexus Suddenly you realise that the friendly chap with the curly hair and the safari suit hasn t turned a page in his magazine since you arrived And you start wondering your neck itching about the thin man in the checkered jacket behind your backFinally Brink presents some diary or journal entries written by du Toit These of course are in the first person In another author s hands these changes would be annoying but here it is done masterfully I could not have been aligned with du Toit even though the narrator was male rather than femaleIt is possible this is the best of Brink but a GR member from South Africa has pointed me to others I look forward to those titles and perhaps others by this author I may give 5 star ratings freely than many and this certainly belongs on my 5 star read shelf I think it also belongs on my top 10 reads of all time

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In a dark time of intolerance and state sanctioned apartheid A simple apolitical man he believes in the essential fairness of the South African government and its policies until the sudden arrest and subseuent suicide of a black janitor from Du Toit's school Haunted by new 'n Droë ePUB #10003. I m not going to dissect the story per se what I found most significant in this critical look is the man vs man dynamic The story takes place at the beginning of the black uprising in the various black townships in S Africa around 1970 s in Soweto Ben Du Toit is a school teacher who is angered when someone he was close to Gordon the janitor at his school approaches him to free his son Jonathan from police custody for a riot in the ghetto Ben becomes very involved when things turn from bad to worse for Jonathan Soon Gordon is in prison as well Ben s efforts aren t welcome and much pressure ensues from every direction Ben is challenged for siding with the blacks a very non Afrikaner attitude In fact many black people don t want him around helping with their cause because he is white Ben is in it for the long haul though he is repeatedly threatened stalked harassed and disparaged Most of his family including his son in law and father in law both high level politicians censure his lack of support of apartheid Ben never saw his actions as such He merely wanted innocent people to have their basic rights of working and living in their homes without fear of false accusations Even his wife and daughters feel he has become to extreme in his advocacy when the issues don t concern himBen is a symbol of righteousness and holiness There are several scenes where his church minister tries to reason with him that this isn t his battle and he is not the proper person to resolve the issues the blacks face Ben s response shows that the church is not doing what it should to stand for peace for all freedom for all loving thy neighbor as thy self and for his expressions he is treated as lost and unreasonable I liked how Brink poked at various systems in society and how they fail to adhere to their missions This was a powerful book As we observe Ben s many conversations and the others responses we see how society rationalizes bad behavior and the commitment to the status uo The arguments of let the government servants do their job This isn t your concern so let those who are involved solve it Is paramount to supporting the wrong behaviors but his arguments have little impact on the surface Unfortunately for Ben his persistence is noticed at the highest levels his actions lead to very profound conseuences in all aspects of his life Andre Brink was a genius He did such a fabulous job I can t help but feel this actually was based on a true story but fictionalized It was profound in delivery and the print so dense this is not a casual read I felt that one reading didn t not deliver the full depth of the message there in I want to return to it and suck out the marrow of the message This book serves as a warning to societies as a whole I see so many parallels in American society even today and I won t hesitate to recommend this to anyone who reads to be challenged both about the way they interact with their own little world and also seek to understand human nature and its energy to remain stable no matter what the cost


10 thoughts on “'n Droë Wit Seisoen

  1. says:

    It is ironic that while reading this account of defying prejudice I found myself prejudging the entire book based on the rather irrelevant and minor frame story at the beginning and worked myself up into such a fit of disdain that I very near

  2. says:

    This is probably Brink's most deservedly famous book and I have been wanting to read since reading Rumours Of Rain

  3. says:

    There's a trope in African American literary works set in the Jim Crow era namely you should have if you're black a white protector someone to turn to in time of need to vouch for your character someone to call you 'a good Negro'Thi

  4. says:

    I'm not going to dissect the story per se what I found most significant in this critical look is the man vs man dynamic The story takes place at the beginning of the black uprising in the various black townships in S Africa around 1970's in S

  5. says:

    Sometimes I love that I live under a rock Because then I read things like this book only to find out a movie was made of it

  6. says:

    I was introduced to the dream and nightmare that was South Africa around the same time A Dry White Season was published 1979 I was ten a 5th grader in an isolated rural western Washington town Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence for A Dry White Season was a bestseller upon publication in the United States but I recall our class watching a cartoon film of black African children each drawn with tight black curls and

  7. says:

    The Philippines also had its dry white season A long dry white season almost 14 years from the time the then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 up to the time he was deposed in a People Power revolution in 1986it is a dry white seasondark leaves don't last their brief lives dry outand with a broken heart they dive down

  8. says:

    I appreciated this book a lot when I read it for a writing course in college The second time around almost seven years later I found it to be sometimes tiresome and often predictable I have a terrible memory by th

  9. says:

    It has long been my habit to start a book by looking at the cover giving than a glance at the copyright page skimming the acknowledgements and scanning the table of contents before beginning the actual book Surprisingly the copyright page occasionally offers something I might not find elsewhere This book offered than th

  10. says:

    Ben du Toit it is me it is you Ben teaches the historyHis life is well organised between the school the church and