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293 pages, Hardcover
First published April 6, 2021
For there is nothing unusual or remarkable about the Swart family, oh no, they resemble the family from the next farm and the one beyond that, just an ordinary bunch of white South Africans, and if you don’t believe it then listen to us speak. We sound no different from other voices, we sounds the same and we tell the same stories, in an accent squashed underfoot, all the consonants decapitated and the vowels stove in.
And as they drive away, Rachel’s body is already being lifted into its final container and the lid screwed down. For ever. The shomer is in attendance and when the other assistants have gone he continues to sit in his lonely chair against the wall, chanting the tehillim. For the dead must have company all the way to the end.
The need to fuck like bonobos is uppermost these days and he certainly came here today for no noble reason. Only one thing on my mind since hearing about Ma, funny that, just how it works, Eros fighting Thanatos, except you don’t think about sex, you suffer it. A scratchy, hungry thing going on in the basement. Torment of the damned, the fire that never goes out. But still, despite bodily appetites, he feels that he’s chasing some emotion he can’t quite name. Might even be love, though that would surprise him.
It isn't much, she says. I know that. Three rooms and a broken roof. On a tough piece of land. Yes. But for the first time, it'll belong to your mother. Her name on the title deed. Not my family's. That isn't nothing.
Yes, Salome agrees, speaking Setswana. It isn't nothing.
It is nothing, Lukas says. Smiling again, in that cold, furious way. It's what you don't need any more, it's what you don't mind throwing away. Your leftovers. That's what you're giving my mother, thirty years too late. As good as nothing.