A Dry White Season by Andre Brink

Apartheid Museum tickets gives you assigned race/color of skin
  • How much I’d Recommend: 9/10
  • Date finished: 5/20/20
  • A Dry White Season, recommend borrowing from your local library

I picked up this book before I went to South Africa in 2018 but I only finished it yesterday. I wish I had read it before going to Johannesburg (“Jo’burg”) to visit the Apartheid Museum and Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto (Township in Jo’burg).

It was a book that’s hard to put down. It’s not a happy ending sort of book. Of course, you know that from the start. This book reminds me of others alike. They are such unpleasant truth about our history that we try everyday to turn a blind-eye to, like To Kill a Mockingbird. Even though it’s a fiction, just like To Kill a Mockingbird, it is undeniably a glimpse into the horrific and startling history of South Africa’s Apartheid period.

Quotes from the book:

  • “I know, lanie.” His voice sounded almost soothing. “But you still believe in miracles. I don’t.”
  • “Don’t you think I know what it feels like? Waiting and waiting: as if life is an investment in a bank somewhere, a safe deposit which will be paid out to you one day, a fortune. And then you open your eyes and you discover that life is no more than the small change you’ve got in your back pocket today.”
  • “What I think, Dominee, is that once in one’s life, just once, one should have enough faith in something to risk everything for it.”
  • “Aren’t you afraid, Sis Emily?” the old priest reproached her. She shook her head. “No. In the end one grows tired of being afraid,” she said.
  • “Not an easy road you’ve chosen,” he commented.

“I have no choice.”

“Of course you  have a choice, damn it. One always has a choice. Don’t fool yourself. Only be thankful you made the choice you did.”

  • Perhaps all one can really hope for, all I am entitled to, is no more than this: to write it down. To report what I know. So that it will not be possible for any man ever to say again: I knew nothing about it.

This also reminds me the Introduction written by Howard Jacobson for Primo Levi‘s book If This Is a Man, a documentary of his experience in the concentration camp.

Strong though the words, they are still weak before the will to deny or forget.