Book Review – Bitter Fruit

Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor (Picador Africa) ISBN: 978-1-77010-527-0

Silas Ali must revisit cruel pre-Apartheid memories of actions inflicted on his nearest when he chances upon Lieutenant Du Boise, his wife’s rapist, two decades after the incident. Despite the power shift from humiliated victim to respected member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Silas is unable to restrain his own family’s rapid disintegration.

A layered tale of turning tables unfolds. Dangor deftly weaves human error, lust, hurt, hope, and the intrinsic urge to belong into this quintessential South African novel. His characters are authentic and vulnerable, fierce and funny. Dialogue, both inner and inter-character, succeeds in carrying the narrative in the colloquial, adding to the plot’s rich texture.

Moving flawlessly between pre- and post-1994, the setting both contrasts and compares life before and after democracy. Sex becomes a leitmotiv of multi-faceted volatility: rape, infidelity, incest, voyeurism. The wavering of both Lydia and Mikey, Silas’ wife and son, seems to echo the distress of a country desperately battling its past demons.

Bitter Fruit should be compulsory reading for all South Africans and anyone who wishes to gain insight into the country’s formidable, turbulent past and present.

Michèle Meyer

Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor (Picador Africa) ISBN: 9781770105270

Silas Ali’s life is turned upside down one afternoon when he bumps into the man who ruined his life.

Lieutenant Du Bois will never fully comprehend how he has ripped Silas’s life apart. The last time the two men had seen each other, Silas has been handcuffed in the back of a police van, while the Lieutenant violated Silas’s wife inside their home.

Laila Ali, the victim of this heinous crime has done all she can over the past twenty years to keep her fragile family intact. The chance sighting, set during the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starts to unravel the carefully constructed family life she treasures.
Mikey Ali, the son of Silas and Laila will come to learn the bitter truth of his existence, and set a course for revenge.

Bitter Fruit is a quiet, powerful study of a family ripped apart by injustices not of their own making. It is a compelling, thought-provoking, tragic, but ultimately uplifting story.

Merissa Himraj

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Posted on: 24th October 2017