Memory Snow/Dust

Breyten Breytenbach, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $22.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-374-20766-3
Breytenbach is a white Afrikaaner poet/novelist/essayist and activist against apartheid, who was imprisoned by the government for seven years and memorialized his experi ences in The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist. Theatrical images of illusion and reality run through his latest novel, a richly seething narrative made up of dreams, poems, dialogues between Ka'afir and the black puppet Polichinelle, letters, and a grim passion play dramatizing the arrest and murder of a black woman teacher. There are discourses on the African terrain, languages, myths and the status of Africa via-a-vis the white world (the ``dust'' and ``snow'' of the title). The story concerns the love between Ethiopian journalist Meheret and film actor Mano, whose ``mixed blood'' makes him look white--hence their child's totem, the chameleon. Meheret writes letters to the unborn infant telling of ancestors, griots and ancient lore so that at birth the child will be steeped in its identity. But at the Burkina Faso film festival, where Meheret and Mano first met, a white woman was murdered, Mano is accused, and ends in the playhouse of death row, where he confronts both the AIDS-smitten Polichinelle and ``Judge Breytenbach.'' A moving, highly charged fictional memoir, this is an illuminating postmodern meditation on Africa. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
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