Outside the Whale

 

for-crowhurst-colour-editJake Brink, a sports photographer, returns to Cape Town after thirteen years of living abroad. Although there are a few clues at the beginning, the precise reasons for his return are not revealed. What is disclosed is that Jake’s wife has asked for a divorce and that his father died in Cape Town the year before, leaving him a house and an inheritance.

On his return he quickly befriends two people who will direct not only his actions but his emotions concerning contemporary South Africa. Despite the fact that there seems a great deal of negative sentiment in the country Jake seems to be on a path to disprove at least some of what he has been told will happen to him ‘out there’. He soon befriends an old photography acquaintance, who is now a well-known artist. As their friendship grows, the two decide to set up a photography school in Gugulethu.

They work together with two men who have close government connections and although there are a few hitches along the way, both romantically and financially, the school seems to be only months away from becoming a reality. But then disaster strikes.

This deceptively simple novel is an extraordinarily bleak and troubling account of life in present-day South Africa, not least because it is hard to doubt its accuracy or veracity. It is especially prescient for the troubled twentieth anniversary of democracy.

 

 

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