We Are Not Such Things: The Murder of a Young American, a South African Township, and the Search for Truth and Reconciliation

Justine van der Leun. Random/Spiegel & Grau, $28 (544p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9450-6
Van der Leun (Marcus of Umbria) focuses this tour-de-force depiction of modern South Africa on the 1993 death of Amy Biehl, a white American grad student and anti-apartheid activist living in Cape Town who was murdered by a mob as apartheid fell. The narrative follows Van der Leun as she uncovers a series of discrepancies surrounding Biehl’s murder and the subsequent truth and reconciliation commission for Biehl’s killers. Amid the suspense of her investigation, Van der Leun skillfully weaves in glimpses into contemporary South Africa, delving into issues such as the systemic disenfranchisements caused by apartheid, the colonial legacies of the British and the Dutch, rampant police brutality, government ineptitude, and the myriad issues that the country now faces in a fractured system. With a strong voice and exact vocabulary, Van Der Leun expertly juxtaposes the lives of white elites with the grim reality of the black township. Van Der Leun succeeds in telling a complex, nuanced, and perhaps ultimately unknowable story that will captivate all readers. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 06/28/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-8502-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5047-8503-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-8501-3
Ebook - 978-0-8129-9451-3
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