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Bitter Fruit por Achmat Dangor
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Bitter Fruit (original 2001; edição 1991)

por Achmat Dangor

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373769,534 (3.17)41
Crimes from the past erupt into the present, splintering Silas Ali's fragile peace of mind, in the tale of a brittle South African family on the crossroads of history.
Título:Bitter Fruit
Autores:Achmat Dangor
Informação:Grove Press, Black Cat (1991), Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Coleções:Em leitura

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Bitter Fruit por Achmat Dangor (2001)

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Apartheid is over and Silas and Lydia have moved out of the township to a suburb of Johannesburg. Silas works as a lawyer for the Department for Justice and his wife Lydia is a nurse. The pair are haunted by a past cruelty towards Lydia and they seem trapped in a loveless marriage, staying together because that’s easier than parting. Living with them is their 18-year-old son Mickey who is studying literature at university. He and his parents have problems communicating with each other.

One day whilst out, Silas recognises a man called François du Boise, an Afrikaner policeman and the man who caused so much misery to Silas and Lydia 20 years ago when he raped Lydia whilst Silas was forced to listen. Silas makes the mistake of telling Lydia of the encounter and she reacts by dancing on broken glass, leading to her being hospitalised.

Mickey goes off the rails and his parents discover that he has had an affair with two older women – a colleague of Silas’ and with one of his university lecturers. Mickey decides to track down his estranged paternal grandparents, who are Muslim and as he spends increasing amounts of time with them he becomes even more withdrawn from his mother and father as their relationships crumble.

Overall I found this rather an unsatisfactory book. I did not warm to the characters at all, which made it hard to have any empathy with them. Had South Africa not been a country I needed to do for my World Challenge then I wouldn’t have continued with it.
( )
  Bagpuss | Jan 17, 2016 |
Una novela en torno al conflicto racial, la violencia y la transgresión sexual en Sudáfrica.
  carmenperez | Jun 28, 2013 |
I thought it would be interesting to read a novel set in post apartheid South Africa, but unfortunately, this one failed to hit the spot as an enjoyable read.
As others have said, the novel is obsessed with bodily functions, sweating, sex, bad breath etc and is full of highly intuitive characters who seem to just know things. Was the author trying to show that South Africa is still a country rooted in superstition and survival instincts?
Silas started out as a character I had some sympathy for and the early scene where Lydia cuts her feet is very moving, but then it is down hill from there.
There is so much inappropriate sex and desire for sex between mother and son, father and daughter, lecturer and pupil etc it just got silly. ( )
1 vote CarolKub | Dec 21, 2011 |
A disappointment.
This novel deals with the personal and the political dimensions of post-Apartheid South Africa. One of the main characters, Silas, was involved in the anti-Apartheid struggle and is now part of the new political elite that tries to build a new society. Can the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) heal the wounds of years of oppression, can it make people forgive and forget? As a politician, Silas would agree, yet in his personal life he experiences that it doesn't.

In the years of the struggle, Lydia, Silas' wife, has been raped by a white police officer, while Silas was beaten up in a policevan. Lydia and Silas never talked about what happened, however, the story of this novel is set into motion as Silas accidentally runs into this (former) police officer. He goes home and tells Lydia. This brings back to Lydia the memories and the pain of the actual event and of the years of silence in the relationship between Silas and her. She wounds herself by walking in glass and ends up in hospital. Still, the couple can't find ways to discuss what happened. Silas flees into work, thereby estranging himself from Lydia for ever.

So far, a moving story of the longlasting effects of the years of Apartheid and oppression, and an interesting insight in South African society.

What happens next however is a series of events, that involve alot of sexual fantasies, sexual relationships between people of very different age groups, incestuous feelings and relationships even, that made me think that this society is very sick. As if, by using sexual oppression as a means of racial oppression, the oppressors caused a trauma that runs much much deeper than the wounds that the TRC could ever heal.

Then there is also the rather unbelievable storyline of Mickey, Lydia's son, who turns to his Muslim non-family to seek help for revenge on the man who raped his mother. It seemed a bit too easy and clichéed to me, to use Muslims to help Mickey get weapons and get away with crime. To once again create an almost logical connection between a person starting to study the Koran and violence.

The subject of this book is interesting enough, however I got more and more fed up with all the sexual events, that seemed rather self repeating after awhile, and as said, the clichéed use of Muslims as terrorists. So, no, I would not recommend this book to anyone. Which is a shame really, with such an interesting topic. ( )
2 vote Tinwara | Aug 2, 2008 |
A few days after finishing this novel I still haven't decided my reaction because it simply didn't elicit the sort of involvement from me that I had expected it would.

I feel I should be much more engaged in the trauma of Lydia's rape and it's aftermath, and by Silas's decades of having on the one hand to deal with those events and on the other prepare for majority rule and take part in building the new society that non-white South Africans had been hoping for. But really, I wasn't.

One strand in the novel which seemed to particularly not work for me was Mikey's involvement with his Muslim non-family. Why is he so fascinated by a group of people who, by the time he seeks them out, he already knows are not related to him by blood or culture? Without being explicit about what eventually happens (though in practice it's flagged up well before it does) Dangor's collision of the disaffected young man and cardboard cut-out Muslims who are ready to embrace violence is a bit of an "oh dear". Perhaps it's realistic in the context of contemporary South African society (or indeed in the context of Islamic culture generally) but it seemed a bit of a cop-out as a plot element. ( )
  MelmoththeLost | Dec 2, 2007 |
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It was inevitable. One day Silas would run into someone from the past, someone who had been in a position of power and had abused it.
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Crimes from the past erupt into the present, splintering Silas Ali's fragile peace of mind, in the tale of a brittle South African family on the crossroads of history.

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