A Separate Development, by Christopher Hope

Around two months ago, I took this book from the library. When I started reading it, I found it interesting, although for various reasons, I stopped it for a long time. With a recent move to UCL in London, I have to take the bus to go to work. That’s when I decided to finish the book, and suddenly it seemed that it was the right moment to do it.

A book about Appartheid, a book which was censured in South Africa when it was published, seems a good book to read now that sadly Mandela has passed away.

The book tells the story of Harry Moto, written in first person. He is supposed to write it when he is in jail. The story begins with him as a white boy in a religious boys school, but his skin colour is not exactly white. In this society, that causes him a lot of trouble. At one moment, everything seems to change, and he needs to leave the life that he knows.

Being divided in three sections, In, Out and In Again, Harry describes the relation between the different races in South Africa, since he is forced to live as a kaffir. One of the most interesting things in my point of view, is how he describes the “invisibility” of black people:

            “Cleaners, groundsmen, gardeners, you always had to look twice to see them. The school was kept going by a whole army of invisible black people who lived in a long barracks behind the cricket pavilion. They were there and yet they where not there. They had to appear in front of your nose to be noticed…

Although it took me too long to finish the book, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read something different, not so commercial, since although it describes difficult situations caused by Appartheid, it uses a touch of humour.

The books is published in Atlantic Books


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