Temporary Sojourner, and Other South African Stories

Tony Eprile, Author Simon & Schuster $8.95 (222p) ISBN 978-0-671-64596-0
Eprile's debut collection is a vigorous, supple portrayal of the diversity and divisiveness of his native South Africa. The stories explore the inner lives of liberal whites and outcast blacks, of jailers, students and emigres (Eprile now resides in New York City). Among the most memorable tales is ``The Witness,'' a powerful parable of a blind man with a lowly prison job, bullied by a sadistic guard who enjoys victimizing his captives, secure in the knowledge that the blind man cannot act as a witness. ``The Ugly Beetle'' tells of an African man, deformed in infancy by a tribal ritual and forced into beggary, who fashions a life of unique strength and status, only to be confronted by his ultimately inescapable vulnerability. Four Spiegelman Family stories, about expatriated German Jews, are scattered through the book as counterpoint to those told from blacks' points of view. Their narrator, Mark, a child of white privilege with an inborn sense of brotherhood, represents the hope of a sane future in a schizophrenic land. Least successful of the collection is ``Thank God for Informers,'' a wooden portrayal of a prison guard who self-righteously persecutes a Mandela-like black leader. But false steps are few in this vibrant work, ringing with harnessed outrage and with love for a people and a land rich in potential. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Hardcover - 222 pages - 978-0-671-68205-7
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