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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 questions an authoritarian state, in this case the apartheid South Africa of the 70s.Ben 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 himself.The 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 hidden.Brink 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 questioning will eventually bring change, and in the light of what happened over the next decade in South Africa this seems very prescient. 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 1986 it is a dry white seasondark leaves don t last, their brief lives dry outand with a broken heart they dive down gently headed for the earth.not even bleeding.it is a dry white season brother,only the trees know the pain as they still stand erectdry like steel, their branches dry like wire,indeed, it is a dry white seasonbut seasons come to pass Mongane Wally Serote If freedom may be compared to the life giving rain, then that period in my country s history was a long drawn out drought Radio TV stations and newspapers were closed down, journalists and people critical of the government were jailed without charges, congress was abolished, and the courts were made inutile by presidential decrees The exercise of civil liberties were curtailed by the use of force, money, intimidation and cunning There were a lot of disappearances and summary executions during the era of this dictatorship A classmate of mine in college, this guy who was always smiling, suddenly disappeared in the middle of the semester He was a member of the left leaning group called the League of Filipino Students and was very fond of quoting Marx I don t think he was a communist though At our age then 18, 19 years old I do not believe anyone can be a real communist But everyone of us, even those with just a modicum of intelligence, could then see the rainless sky and feel the heat of that long dry white season the press were essentially allowed to operate after a while but they were all controlled by cronies of the dictator, except for a few newspaper publishers who were nevertheless harassed in all manners possible and had to content themselves with very limited sales TV stations were all controlled by them, public rallies were always met by forcible dispersals Warrantless arrests continued and there were continuing disappearances and summary executions Why There is a conversation here between the principal protagonist named Ben a peace loving white teacher who decided to act when confronted with an injustice done to a black family by the Gestapo equivalent in that country then and another character, Bruwer Ben asked Bruwer why all these are happening and why can t conflicts be resolved by peaceful dialogues instead of violence Bruwer Because it s a matter of power Naked power That s what brought them there and keeps them there And power has a way of becoming an end in itselfOnce you have your bank account in Switzerland, and your farm in Paraguay, and your villa in France, and your contacts in Hamburg and Bonn and Tokyo once a flick of your wrist can decide the fate of others you need a very active conscience to start acting against your own interests And a conscience doesn t stand up to much heat or cold, it s a delicate sort of plant Ben Then it would be madness to hope for even the most paltry form of change Bruwer There are only two kinds of madness one should guard against, Ben One is the belief that we can do everything The other is the belief that we can do nothing I am sure my classmate who disappeared did not suffer from this second type of madness It was probably I who did This novel by Andre Brink is set in South Africa, pre Mandela, during the repressive white minority rule And damn, I could have written a book like this myself the same materials are available here except that, of course, madmen are lazy and can t write well. 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.This book, set in the apartheid era South Africa, looks at the trope from another perspective this is a story of a white man, Ben, who sponsors a black boy s education The boy dies the reason is police brutality The white man cannot believe this could have happened he is shocked, torn, looks for a rational explanation When the boy s father decides to investigate, is arrested, broken teeth are found in his dirty laundry his wife received, and the next thing we learn is that he hanged himself in his cell, Ben feels he must find out what happened, why it happened, and how someone could do it, rationalize it, and systematically cover all institutional violence, torture, harassment, blackmail.What I find most compelling about the book, is that Ben cannot stop He does, literally, all in his power to expose the evil of the system he was so far unaware of, to identify people responsible for the crimes and to find proofs of their guilt There is a nightmare aspect to it he wades deeper and deeper in, and goes on because he cannot turn back He sees all kinds of corruption of the system, but the corrupt system has very effective defense mechanisms.This novel was very, very good Not a masterpiece, but a powerfully written book on something of tremendous importance It is heavy, but not gruesome much is, thankfully, left to the reader s imagination, although this reader joined Amnesty International in the middle of their anti torture campaign in the early noughties and still remembers enough to connect most of the dots Very strongly recommended Najgorsze jest to, e nie potrafi okre li ani nazwa przeciwnika Nie mog go wyzwa na pistolety Walczy ze mn nie cz owiek ani grupa ludzi, ale rzecz, co , nieokre lone, bezpostaciowe co , niewidzialna, wszechobecna pot ga, kt ra czyta moje listy, pods uchuje moje rozmowy przez telefon, szkoli ideologicznie moich koleg w, nakr ca przeciwko mnie uczni w, przecina opony samochodu, maluje napisy na drzwiach, strzela w okna, wysy a paczki z bombami pot ga, kt ra dzie i noc, dzie i noc ledzi ka dy m j krok, krzy uje moje polany i stara si mnie zastraszy , tocz c ze mn gr o regu ach wymy lonych i kapry nie zmienianych przez siebie sam. 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 starring Donald Sutherland, co starring Susan Sarandon and Marlon Brando Hello, Rock I hope you re comfortable on top of me.I sort of breezed through this book, which is totally the author s fault because it was just that good I was invested the entire time Ben Du Toit is a white schoolteacher in Johannesburg during the Apartheid When a black friend comes to him for help he s hesitant because he s become rather accustomed to keeping his nose out of trouble and not getting wrapped up in all the racial divides But as he starts investigating the story a bit he realizes that the South African government isn t as honest as he thought it was.Everything one used to take for granted, with so much certainty that one never even bothered to enquire about it, now turns out to be illusion Your certainties are proven lies And what happens if you start probing Must you learn a wholly new language first Humanity Normally one uses it as a synonym for compassion charity decency integrity He is such a human person Must one now go in search of an entirely different set of synonyms cruelty exploitation unscrupulousness or whatever p 161 I found out about the movie after I read the book which is good because as much as I love Donald Sutherland I was glad not to have his face in my imagination as I read It s a story worth reading and absorbing, and having a Hollywood image in my mind would have probably blown it for me I don t even think I want to see what Hollywood did with it on the big screen. [ FREE PDF ] ♴ 'n Droë Wit Seisoen ♷ As Startling And Powerful As When First Published Than Two Decades Ago, Andr 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 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 Subsequent Suicide Of A Black Janitor From Du Toit S School Haunted By New Questions And Desperate To Believe That The Man S Death Was A Tragic Accident, Du Toit Undertakes An Investigation Into The Terrible Affair A Quest For The Truth That Will Have Devastating Consequences For The Teacher And His Family, As It Draws Him Into A Lethal Morass Of Lies, Corruption, And Murder
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 toasted almond skin, holding hands and singing as they paraded through streets made of simple gray lines The words they sang never left me We are marching to Pretoria We are marching to Pretoria, Pretoria, Pretoria We are marching to Pretoria Pretoria, Hooorah Of course, it would be years, decades, before the irony of those lyrics hit me What that film was, why it was shown in our classroom, why we learned the lyrics to British military marching song or a Boer independence marching song, or an American Civil War marching song for all are claimed as the song s origins are mysteries never to be solved I can only assume my teacher hopped on the same bus as The Weavers, who sang the song for years without bothering to learn what it was about, and once they did, turned it into a protest song But of course, it s easy to protest another country s political tyranny with folk songs from thousands of miles distant, when it isn t your life on the edge, when you don t risk family, job, property or your life to stand up and do the right thing For Ben Du Toit, a white schoolteacher in Johannesburg, doing the right thing never occurred to him, until suddenly it became the reason for his existence As this story unfolds in the late 1970s, apartheid is the accepted way of life Blacks are segregated in township ghettos, a condition Afrikaners and other white South Africans treat with reactions ranging from mild concern to dogmatic approval But nearly all are oblivious to the effect racial segregation, injustice and abuse has on the human beings who clean their homes, tend their gardens, and who are disappeared by the authorities for crimes real and, mostly, imagined It isn t until Gordon, a janitor at Ben s school, pleads for his help in locating Gordon s missing son that Ben wakes up to the reality around him Ben follows protocol, solicits an attorney, and restricts himself to the usual channels of inquiry At least in the beginning When Gordon is detained by the police, Ben is drawn into a much darker drama, beyond the borders of his reasonable, tidy life This is a political story Ben remains something of a cipher a mild mannered, oddly passive husband, father, teacher, who is motivated not so much by affection or concern for Gordon and his family, but by a blossoming sense of social justice In that, this is not so much the story of a man, but of a nation of men It is no surprise that A Dry White Season was banned in South Africa soon after its publication there, for it is a strident call to action by a white man to his fellow white citizens It is an appeal to resist, defy, expose, even when fighting back seems futile agains the might of a wealthy, armed regime It is the shedding of ignorance, innocence, passivity It is a story of betrayals and loss, of courage There are some awkward stylistic choices insertions of Ben s diary that seem to want to lend humanity and color to an otherwise monochromatic personality but the prose is refined and confident and careful I squirmed a few times at the drifting of Ben s narrative toward the White Savior, but I wonder how much of that is my own baggage and an armchair reflection of this history, nearly forty years later I am so glad to have read this book, a classic indictment of apartheid that has not lost its power or relevance in a time when race dominates our national conversation and international imperatives. 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 the way, so it s being predictable is the not the result of my ability to remember what was going to happen Written during the 1970s, this was certainly an important book for Apartheid South Africa That said, the dialogue was often painfully weak A lot of one has to blah blah blah so that one can blah blah blah, doesn t one Bad translation I don t know I also found some of the characters to be clich d or unrealistic I was disappointed that I couldn t capture whatever it was that prompted me to keep this book long after my writing course was over so that I could read it again. 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 coincidental.First 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 book.The 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 author Brink says he wrote the novel so no one could say he didn t know.The 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 questions 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 aside.This 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 walls.Most 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 quiet 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 back.Finally, 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 female.It 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. Ben du Toit, it is me, it is you Ben teaches the history.His life is well organised between the school, the church and his family He has nothing of a revolutionary, he is an average Afrikaner And then his life is going to disrupt The son of his gardener, an intelligent boy, was arrested during a protest march He dies in prison His father inquires because he wants to know the truth He will be also arrested and will die in prison For Ben it is unbearable He wants to know.The genius of Brink is to have chosen as hero an ordinary man Ben lives the apartheid without that asking any problem He does not contest the State He only wants to know with some stubbornness and naivity what did happened He will be crushed.The book was interdict in South Africa and is appeared in London in 1980 It had a considerable repercussion It made give us a live vision of apartheid from the interior, in its daily banality.Brink is a little forgotten today I wanted just to pay tribute to him for his role as eveillor of conscience. Questo libro una finestra d affaccio su un altro mondo, cos lontano geograficamente ma pure cos vicino, nel sentire e nel divenire di ogni tempo, di questi tempi.Storia di apartheid.Storia di un uomo tranquillo, un afrikaans, che ad un cero punto apre gli occhi evede.Ha da sempre guardato la propria realt famiglia, scuola in cui insegna, neri che girano per casa e nel suo giardino per lavorare.Mai si era reso conto che quelle persone fossero appunto Persone.L educazione e il rispetto con cui li ha sempre trattati non pensati li dava per scontati Lui, Ben, arrivato come anestetizzato agli incontri che designano il suo destino Anestetizzato dalla consuetudine, dall abitudine, dall apatia, dall ottundimento morale che in certe societ il potere produce il non pensare, il non vedere Se pensi, guardi e vedi pericoloso, perch ti accorgi della forza con cui il potere si esprime, la forza della costrizione, la costrizione che violenza, la violenza che produce terrore, il terrore che fa vivere in un perenne stato di paura, la paura che genera il silenzio Ecco, Ben odia il silenzio, ci cresciuto ma ad un certo punto vuole sentirsi dire la verit sulla morte dei Ngubene, padre e figlio e vuole giustizia Come fare a punire i responsabili, quelli al potere, quelli inviolabili dietro il loro muro di silenzio Con le parole Parole dette Scritte Spedite ad un amico come fossero un testimone E pericoloso, Ben ci rimette la vita, ma questo lo scopo del libro non tacere, cos che non possiamo dire un giorno non sapevamo Come in questi giorni di sbarchi e di sentenze vissute come ingiuste Tutti i bei sentimenti di questo mondo partono dal singolo individuo, ma a quanto pare si snaturano quando impattano con la molteplicit , avete notato E discorso troppo grande, per me che non conosco la Storia, le Storie Mi soccorre il sentimento Mi aiuta Brink, ad immaginare Ben Du Toit, questo professore di mezz et calmo e pacifico, noioso a volt, talmente saturo della propria identit di afrikaaner da risultargli essa stessa estranea ad un certo punto Punto di rottura, quando ai miei occhi ben chiaro l enorme senso di colpa, nascosto e represso, di chi conosce la realt benissimo e fin da subito ma vi si fa sospingere.Ben Du Toit ad un certo punto vuole sapere chi egli stesso mica chi ha ucciso e uccide i neri, chi lui come Uomo e chi sono gli Uomini attorno a lui, certo, anche che colore abbiano Il libro una denuncia, non va a finire bene, vi un eredit dura da lasciare.Mai come oggi camminiamo su cocci di vetro, neri e bianchi quanti siamo Alziamo il capo, guardiamo chi cammina al nostro fianco, occorre concentrasi sugli occhi, l dove dicono sia possibile leggere l anima dell individuo Facciamolo, occhi negli occhi leggeremo le nostre anime e forse ritroveremo la nostra Umanit comune.