This is prizewinning author David Robbins’ twentieth book. Oblique Light is a collection of long short-stories set in Scotland and dealing with the alienation and amorality of self-imposed exile.
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Forty years after coming of age in South Africa in the 1960s, the author unearths a forgotten manuscript written at that time. Through rereading this early work, he revisits the political and religious falsehoods that had characterised the context of his genesis as a writer, particularly as revealed by the fictional characters that he then created.
Two women have been damaged by the realities of the time, one crushed by the withering world of Afrikaner urbanisation, the other by the devastating impact of racially defined morality. They bring tragedy and greater maturity to the central character, a young visual artist who falls in love with both these shattered individuals.
Even the Head of Her Majesty’s Secret Service seems to dismiss the rumours of a shadowy yet powerful mercenary spy network as folk tales. But Captain John Fletcher, a Royal Navy stalwart and MI-6 agent, is having doubts. He has just been dispatched on a luxury yacht searching for lost pirate ships.
Paris 1505. Tragedy strikes at the rue Daniel bookshop of Arnoul De La Porte. Alone with his little son Paoul, he finds comfort in the writings of Luther and becomes involved in the illegal Reformation Movement. As Huguenot heretics, his descendants must walk a dangerous tightrope of pretence to prevent being executed. Luc is betrayed and escapes to relatives in Flanders with Sibylle, the daughter of his Protestant mentor.
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.
When the disease began to spread around the world, and also in Johannesburg where Gregory Davis lived, everyone was ordered into their houses and told to stay there. On the last day of freedom, people scrambled into the supermarkets and bottle-stores and, after standing two metres apart at the tills, emerged heavily laden ...