Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews

Renee Abigail Penelope Harold Meg

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from Renée's Reviews



One Tongue Singing

by Susan Mann
Vintage UK paperback

This is the book to read either before or after Breyten Breytenbach’s Dog Heart. It fills in the emotional lacunae left by that author. Mann is part of the rainbow generation of writers after the end of Apartheid in 94. The book is a naive attempt to explore the faces of power both personally and politically. Racism, violence, alcoholism and apathy – all are there but the characters are overloaded with symbolism and meaning. Beautiful French Camille, the nurse too innocent to credit the power of racism, Jake the artist and seducer of women who has lost his way, his sexy and rich wife who finally gets it: she must evolve and enjoy her independence. And then there are the young: the white boy, son of the vineyard owner who loves, without hope, Zara, Camille's daughter and future artist, Blom the colored girl who is also Zara's only friend and who happens to be also the daughter of the same vineyard owner mothered by the house servant. All just a bit too neatly tied up. It is a flawed book but interesting to read and informative if you want to fill in for yourself the map of the political and social landscape of South Africa ten years after "freedom".

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