File Size: 14672 KB
Print Length: 546 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (June 28, 2016)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Typically the story is about creator Justine van der Leun’s quest to get to the bottom of what really happened the day Amy Biehl, an American pupil on a Fullbright scholarship in S. africa, was killed by an angry mob in a township near Hat Town in 1993 ~ during that period between Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his election as chief executive when the threat of civil war loomed over S. africa.
If you’re thinking about that long-ago story, this book will bring it in return in all its fine detail. But it’s more than that. I would say it’s among the best portraits of life in a Southern African township that I have read. In the course of her investigation, Justine gets to know the main players on that fateful day and forges an especially close bond with one of the men who pleaded guilty to Amy’s murder, Easy Nofemala. Through Easy, Justine will get to meet other witnesses on frequent visits to Gugulethu and surroundings.
Typically the deeper she digs, the more confusing it gets. Did Easy and the other accused really commit the crime? Were they wrongfully convicted, and if so, why is it so hard to get to the truth? To be able to me, these visits revealing the convoluted relationships between different characters of that story and their even more convoluted relationship to the truth would be the real gem in her guide.
It is somewhat not satisfying that when you change the last page, you have no idea what really happened that day in 1993. If your sole goal in reading the book is to find out what happened, don’t read it, you’ll be disappointed. I think the publisher wasn’t quite honest in pressing exactly that narrative, and this is one reason I don’t think the book is worth 5 stars.
Yet , it is a fascinating portrait of one of the many encounters of S. africa., " We Are Not Such Things" is an extraordinary guide, both beautifully written and completely riveting. Journalist Justine van der Leun re-investigates a real-life murder secret at several levels of magnitude simultaneously: as a deeply personal set of intertwining stories (including the woman own), as an encapsulation of South African politics at the bitter ending of apartheid, so that as a deep breathing on the ambiguity and fundamental unknowability of complex historical narratives. It's a stunning achievement., I picked this book up after seeing a great review because of it in the NYT and it is honestly among the best books I have read in the previous 3 years. It truly is incredibly thoughtful with many twists and turns and really helped me think about what it means to reduce. The author’s story informing reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth), where you are following an incredibly intriguing, compelling personal story (a true one in the case of We are Not Such Items! ) while simultaneously learning about a region steeped of all time. I read this book over 48 hours while traveling and couldn’t put it down while in line at the airport. There will be multiple points you choose to announc out loud because she builds incredible suspense! I came across myself fully immersed on the planet the author created- the articles are fantastic, the story is almost unbelievable.
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