The Afrikaner by Arianna DagninoThe Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino

The Afrikaner

byArianna Dagnino

Mass Market Paperback | April 1, 2019

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A hijacking in deeper Johannesburg goes horribly wrong. Zoe du Plessis, a paleontologist of Afrikaner origin, is suddenly confronted with her family's secret, seemingly wrapped in an old Xhosa's spell. As she heads for the Kalahari Desert in search of early human fossils, Zoe embarks on an inner journey into the unredeemable sense of guilt haunting her white tribe. She reluctantly seeks salvation in the love of a man scarred by South Africa's darker past.
In her career as an international reporter, literary translator and academic researcher, Arianna Dagnino has lived in many countries, including a five-year stint in South Africa. The author of several books on the impact of global mobility, science and new technologies, she holds a PhD from the University of South Australia and current...
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Title:The AfrikanerFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:285 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.65 inPublished:April 1, 2019Publisher:Guernica EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1771833572

ISBN - 13:9781771833578

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"Oom, what are you doing here?""I went to visit some friends living on a farm over there," he says pointing to the west with his arm stretched out, the back of his hand facing up.A flood of memories rushes in. She was still a graduate student when the Bushmen soldiers who had fought in the frontier wars in Namibia had been relocated with their families to Schmitsdrift, a military base in the Karoo. Those 4,000 souls, stranded in a heavily fenced wasteland away from the public eye, had become the largest Khoisan community left in Africa. Zoe had spent a summer among them, studying their customs and way of life; that's how she had met Koma, the Medicine man of the !Kung tribe and one of the best trackers in the South African Army."Still at the camp, Koma?""Ja, I'm too old to work on a plaas."How old is he? Fifty, sixty? Even he couldn't tell."You might be too old to work on a farm, Oom, but you don't seem too old to go on foot across the Karoo. When did you leave?""Three days ago. It will take me another four days to be back home," he tells her as if it were the most natural thing in the world."I can give you a ride.""Nee. Walking is good. It has taken me back to the lost days, when I was a young hunter."As he talks, Koma lets his eyes roam across the landscape, scouting, intercepting even the slightest movement in the far distance. For a while, they share the stillness of the Karoo, drawn by the same sense of wonder, the same urge of wandering. Eventually, with his gaze still fixed into the horizon, the old shaman says,"Your heart is aching."She's taken aback. Startled by the oddness of their encounter, Zoe had momentarily forgotten the cause of her flight. But Koma can tune in on people's deepest feelings, and she should know it. "Those who live in the city no longer care to read people's hearts," he once told her at the camp. "They're too busy running about, grabbing, stealing each other's souls." She keeps quiet, looking down at the dust on her boots, forced back into reality. "The arrows of sorrow hit me hard this time," she says. Another long spell of silence. Then, imposing a stern, resolute tone onto her voice she adds, "I'll stay strong, though."The old shaman takes his time before speaking again."At times, we need to be like the weed, which bends in the wind."Zoe turns toward him, only to meet the cutout of his profile in the naked light of the veld. She cannot figure out Koma's words nor how they might apply to her plight. But there's no point in asking him to elaborate. The old shaman, she knows, would keep silent, looking away, pretending not to have heard her plea for clarity. Besides, she doesn't want to. For a little longer, until she is in this moon-like scape, in front of its raw sobriety, she can hush her mind.She sits down on her rock and, following the old man's gaze, watches the sun as it heads toward its daily death. After a while, drawing out from her daze, she stands up and walks to the car. She pulls from her backpack three packages of biltong she bought for the trip and takes the bottle of water lying on the passenger seat. Then she goes back to Koma and hands him the dried meat and the water."They will come in handy.""Goed."As the old man slips the offerings in his knapsack, she asks: "Oom, how come our paths have crossed here, in the middle of a desert?" "The magic is in every landscape and moment of life, Mejuffrou. I thought you had already taken note of this in that little book of yours you used to carry everywhere."Koma clasps her hands, then goes on his way without turning around."Totsiens, Oom," she finally says, still feeling the bushman's dry and nervous strength around her wrists. She watches him walk away, a small dark figure against a scarlet backdrop, his pace slow and measured. He's still wearing his old uniform, all patched and worn-out, and a pair of sandals made from truck tires. He and his fellow tribesmen no longer tie around their waist the traditional thong of antelope skin. That daily garment has become a hidden costume to be worn only at night when entering the trance circle. For the times are a' changing for them too, the desert people. She moves towards the car. The light is fast draining from the sky now: If she sits tight, she will be in Bloemfontein before dark settles in.

Editorial Reviews

A clever, fresh and widely resonating novel whose international, globalizing streak rescues us from stale and overly provincial atmospheres. -- Dr. Carlo Testa, The University of British Columbia