In the 1950s a routine underground inspection in a gold mine turns into a horrifying experience for a South African mining engineer.
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Evelyn walked towards the cluster of flame lilies, each one a cup of flickering scarlet edged with trickling gold, growing up from the deep, rich, red African soil. She bent down gently stretched her arms around them, just able to touch her fingers
together, and breathed in deeply. The smell of green … only here on this land.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s three young people, whose life experiences and personalities couldn’t be more different, and each of whom carry deep emotional scars travel to Tanzania.
When wealthy, influential Frank and Lizzie Cudgill are unable to have children they adopt a boy they name Daniel. But soon, their long-awaited parental bliss turns awry when they realise there is something strange and unsettling about him. When Frank passes away suddenly from a fatal heart attack barely two months after everyone thinks his death was caused by intense grief over her loss.
Theodor, the eighty-five year old protagonist in this engaging short novel, writes of his early years in Johannesburg in the 1930s and 1940s.
The story begins as he remembers how his journey began. It ends with his arrival in the fledgling Israeli state to serve his ancient homeland as a soldier-farmer on an outlying kibbutz. But the main focus is reserved for the often funny and always ironic accounts of the childhood and youth of an intelligent Jewish boy growing up in a dusty mining town in Africa.
The world is ending. People, animals, plants – there is a universal dying-off of the planet. Rumours persist of a reprieve but none appears. Two dogs and their human companions bond, as they trace a vivid circuit in a region not dissimilar to Cape Town; they encounter the violence and decay as they travel, struggling to survive. It’s a tough passage through societies of degradation and unsettled by a war beyond the mountains that encircle them.