A Dry White Season by André Brink

By André Brink

Ben Du Toit is a white schoolteacher in suburban Johannesburg in a dismal time of intolerance and state-sanctioned apartheid. an easy, apolitical guy, he believes within the crucial equity of the South African govt and its policies—until the unexpected arrest and next "suicide" of a black janitor from Du Toit's institution. Haunted through new questions and wanting to think that the man's dying used to be a sad coincidence, Du Toit undertakes an research into the poor affair—a quest for the fact that could have devastating outcomes for the instructor and his kinfolk, because it attracts him right into a deadly morass of lies, corruption, and homicide.

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Sample text

I dont get out there much, of course. I went at Christmas. You know. They left word at the Eagles for me to call one time and I dont know. Come to dinner sometime. You know. I didnt want to go out there. I dont blame you for that. The uncle shifted a little in his chair. Well, it’s not that I dont get along with them really. I just … You just cant stand them nor them you. A funny little smile crossed the uncle’s face. Well, he said. I dont think I’d go so far as to say that. Now of course they’ve never done me any favors.

He came back for his supper and went out again and stayed until past dark. Just before midnight she heard him leave the house again. He listened at her door and then went on to the front room where he sat on the daybed and donned his shoes. Then he was out in the warm August night, lush and tactile, the door set shut with a faint cry of the keeperspring, down the path through the gate and into the lane. When he came out on the pike he could feel the day’s warmth from the macadam through his thin shoesoles and he could smell it, musky and faintly antiseptic.

Down there in grots of fallen light a cat transpires from stone to stone across the cobbles liquid black and sewn in rapid antipodes over the raindark street to vanish cat and countercat in the rifted works beyond. Faint summer lightning far downriver. A curtain is rising on the western world. A fine rain of soot, dead beetles, anonymous small bones. The audience sits webbed in dust. Within the gutted sockets of the interlocutor’s skull a spider sleeps and the jointed ruins of the hanged fool dangle from the flies, bone pendulum in motley.

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