4.11 - 1251 ratings - Source

South Africa - an intimate, funny, and profound personal history Amid all the super-sized coverage of the death of one of the greatest people of modern times, Nelson Mandela, there was nothing that captures as well as this book does so much of what South Africa was really like for whites in the decades that preceded the emergence of what (one hopes) will be the qrainbow nation.q Reading this funny, clever, sometimes vicious portrayal of growing up in Johannesburg in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, I found myself reminded of Blake's line qTo see a world in a grain of sand.q This is because Joffe, in writing a detailed and often very amusing account of his personal adventures and misadventures, captures also the texture of the broader environment, the brutal decades of racist horror of his native land. Much of the book is thus in many ways like a picture overlaying a picture; this enriches the tale of growing up and provides a more intimate understanding of a system the boy could only sense was wrong without any explicit understanding of what was so amiss. Joffe relates events with the engaging rhythm of all great story tellers - there are villains like sadistic teachers and fatuous fathers-in-law, there are lost adolescents in pursuit of sex and meaning, there are coming of age crises and triumphs, and an almost Dickensian host of memorable, often quirky, family members and friends. It's a memoir that, with different details, could probably have come from just about any part of the British Empire of the 1930s to 1950s - Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom itself perhaps - except for that sinister backdrop of racism, brutal oppression, hatred, and fear. Read it, and you will see what I mean. Read it and you'll laugh frequently. Read it and you'll better understand the last 80 years of South African history. Amazon Customer ReviewThe surprising success of my junior matric results led me to believe that I would sail through my final year school year by continuing to take advantage of my meningitis. Wrong! Although I attained a distinction in English and reasonable passesanbsp;...

Author:Edward Joffe
Publisher:AuthorHouse - 2013-10-25


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