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A Chain of Voices

Andre Brink
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"A Chain of Voices is the story of a slave revolt outside Cape Town in 1825. Slavery was legal in the Cape province 'til about, I don't know, 1836 or something like that. And there had been a rumor that on New Year's Day 1825 all the slaves were going to be freed. When it didn't happen, Galant, who is a colored slave in the employ of a family, rises up, kills one of the sons, wounds a bunch of other people. He leads an uprising, is captured, and brought to trial. How does something terrible like this happen when the defendants, who were raised alongside the white - we would call them plantation owners, but settlers. What motivates that? And so I mean it may seem obvious to us in 2008 that there could be resentment. But Brink explores the story of how this happens from the ground up and he creates a whole world. This book is written beautifully. All of Brink's stories are written beautifully and English is not even his first language. He's an Afrikaans writer, but writes mostly in English. He's like Faulkner, as I say, but much more accessible. I would say he's kind of a cross between Faulkner and maybe Michener on the accessibility scale with little Marge Piercy thrown in because there is political content. I would recommend the book not just to people who are interested in South African, but anyone who likes historical fiction. Because Brink is a master of historical fiction. He gets inside this world of the past without seemingly any conscious effort. Although he's done obviously a great deal of research, but it just feels effortless that you're in that time. I'd give Chain of Voices, in fact Brink as a writer, five stars."
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