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3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  947 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Soon there must come a day when I can say for myself: This and that I shall do, this and that I shall not.

Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master. The year is 1832 and the Cape is rife with rumours about the liberation of the slaves. Philida decides to risk her whole life by lodging a complaint against Francois, who has reneged on hi
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Vintage Digital (first published 2012)
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Jan 04, 2013 karen rated it really liked it

i have finally read an andre brink novel! hooray! and reading the afterword, it seems that this book contains characters, real people or imaginary, from his other books, which really just whets my appetite for more brink, because i have a bunch here, but without the "gotta read this or i will disappoint the netgalley folks" push, who knows how long i would have gone without enjoying him? and this brings my "books i have read about south africa" tally up to...three, along with Mafeking Road: and
Call me …...

Opening sentences. They can make you hurry to find your credit card or reshelf the book in disgust. They can set a tone or, like Fate knocking on a door, resonate throughout history. Sometimes, like Melville’s opener quoted above, three notes suffice. So too here, in Philida, where Andre Brink takes us to 1834, the year before slavery was abolished in South Africa, with three words sufficient to caution that the transition will not be clean:

Here come shit.

And indeed it does.

I was very interested to read this book because André Brink’s is a name I had heard mentioned on and off over the last thirty years although I’d never opened one of his books in all that time. My scant knowledge of South Africa comes from the other South African authors I’ve read, people like Alan Paton and Donald Woods during the Apartheid period, and later, Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee along with, more recently, Damon Galgut. Of these, as far as I know, Coetzee is the only one who shares Br ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it really liked it
I was worried that Philida would be similar to Brink's books published over the last few years, which all felt like thinly disguised memoirs, and did not impress me. I am happy to say this historic novel is definitely one of his best. I read the afrikaans version, and I delighted in his magic with words (when creating new, or just using very unusual combinations). The story about slavery in the 1800's is stirring and very sad. Philida is a strong and compassionate woman, and I really wish we cou ...more
May 31, 2016 Jill rated it it was amazing
From exquisite pain sometimes comes exquisite beauty. Andre Brink tackles a harrowing time in our world history: slavery in South Africa in the 1830s, when brutal thrashings from those who held a Bible in one hand and a whip in the other were commonplace. Yet he tells the tale with such eloquence and lyricism that the reader is caught between loving the words and yet condemning the subject matter.

Philida – the eponymous slave woman – actually worked as a knitting girl on the arm from 1824-1832;
May 29, 2016 Elaine rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
A brutal glimpse of the violence of South African slavery, and a focus on the sexualized nature of much of that violence. The first half of this book is a very painful read, as Brink takes us up close to the minutiae of that brutality and, uncomfortably, to the prurient voyeurism that lurks just behind. Overall, an interesting and well-written nod to a perhaps little-known ( outside of South Africa) historical chapter, when the Dutch imported Javanese and other "brown" people to South Africa as ...more
Madeline Knight-Dixon
Jun 04, 2013 Madeline Knight-Dixon rated it really liked it
The thing I liked (well not really liked… appreciated?) most about this book is how it made me realize just how self-centered Americans are. The fact that when I picked this book up at the library I didn’t realize that slavery had been just as bad in South Africa is a tribute to my glorious USA-centric education.

That out of the way, I think this is one of the most interesting stories about slavery I’ve ever encountered. The story is about a woman named Philida, slave, lover to the master’s son a
Nancy Oakes
Mar 21, 2013 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
In the acknowledgments section of his novel, the author notes that

"The discovery that her master Cornelis Brink was a brother of one of my own direct ancestors, and that he sold her at auction after his son Francois Gerhard Jacob Brink had made four children with her..."

was the catalyst for his story. This re-imagined Philida is no ordinary slave; as the novel opens she's on her way to lodge a complaint against Francois who, after fathering four children with her, had promised to buy her freedo
Dec 15, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-africa, africa
This great novel, published in 2012, is set in 'South Africa' during the early 1830s.

Philida, a slave in the Brink household, makes a complaint about her master at the Office of the Slave Protector, an office set up relatively recently, soon after the British replaced the Dutch as rulers of the Cape Colony. Her complaint sets off a chain of events during which the reader is introduced to the harsh realities of slavery in the colony. The reader will also learn quickly that nothing is as simple as
Sonja Arlow
3 stars

This book reminded me how much I missed good Afrikaans writing. I am glad I waited to get my hands on the actual Afrikaans book rather than go for the quick fix English version that was readily available at the time. I firmly believe some of the magic gets lost in translation.

Andre Brink is known for his deep disturbing subject matter but as our South African history of slavery and oppression goes back so far this story felt like complete fantasy – which it is NOT!

This is definitely a f
Jodi Jacobson
Mar 10, 2013 Jodi Jacobson rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
For me, this book was so-so. It was a good enough read, but the characters were, to me, undeveloped, and I felt like the author was trying to cram a lot of disparate things into a specific book without really developing the scenes, characters, and the rest. Certain momentous things happened and yet were not followed up. For example, a powerful landowner (and a vicious unpredictable slaveowner) makes it known at a slave auction that one of the black women there (a freed slave) is his own mother. ...more
Mar 26, 2013 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an absolutely fascinating novel. I had not heard of Andre Brink before, but after finishing this, I definitely plan on checking out this talented South African author’s other novels. He based this story partly on his own ancestors which lent a ring of authenticity to the entire novel. The titular character, Philida, was a slave in South Africa in the 1830s, just on the cusp of the abolishment of slavery. The book touched on a lot of big themes and would certainly make for a perfect book ...more
Sep 02, 2015 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Philida is a slave in South Africa where the master's son impregnates her on several occasions and she is sold to avoid the shame it will bring to his impending marriage to a woman of good standing. Brink bases his novel on a real woman from the 19th century, a slave owned by one of his ancestors. This was a good novel that explored slavery and the lives of slaves. It would have benefitted though from a glossary either at the start or end of the book to explain the Afrikaan words used throughout ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Tonya rated it really liked it
More harrowing than 'A dry white season', it took me a long time to get through this book. It made me feel sick.What is even more unsettling is this is not a work of fiction but an account of documented fact. I found this book brilliant but very upsetting. Brink's writing at it's most straight forward without dressing up for guests..not for the faint hearted
Apr 02, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Philida is a slave at Zandvliet, a winery in South Africa. The story is fictional, but inspired by real people. The author's ancestors owned Philida. It's the 1830s and a few years before emancipation. Philida goes to a slave protector to complain against Francois Brink. Francois is the farm owner's son. He rapes Philida and promises her freedom and shoes. Wearing shoes indicates a person's free status. Philida tolerates him until she realizes his promises to free her are empty. She has four chi ...more
Ricki Treleaven
Apr 12, 2013 Ricki Treleaven rated it liked it
This week I read Philida by André Brink. I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't. I found it frustrating on several levels. It was frustrating reading so many points of view, plus Brink doesn't believe in using quotation marks. Also, I had difficulty with some of the language. Although I could usually understand due to context clues, a comprehensive glossary would have been appreciated.

André Brink based his novel on a true story involving a slave of his ancestor's brother. Philida is a s
Vivek Tejuja
Aug 31, 2012 Vivek Tejuja rated it it was amazing
I am always a little wary when I pick up a long-listed or a short-listed Booker title to read. It somehow conjures the image of some heavy-duty reading and while that is true for most books, it also sometimes happens that I tend to enjoy the particular read a lot. The same happened with, “Philida” by Andre Brink that has been long-listed for this year’s Booker.

A lot has been written about the condition of slavery. From Toni Morrison to Flannery O’Connor to Eudora Welty, all have touched on the t
I suspect I may be on a high-rating streak, but I've enjoyed the last few books quite a bit. I especially liked how craftsmanship acted as a sign of dehumanization (a slave may make shoes but cannot wear them) as well as one of self-authorship (Philida's knitting makes her valuable to her owners, but it is also a means for her to present herself as an autonomous individual who "creates" her self). As a lover of 18th and 19th-century novels, I also got a kick over the long, parodic chapter titles ...more
Jakey Gee
Aug 09, 2012 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it
A story about storytelling - really enjoyed it.

As ever with AB's stuff, very rich in mysticism (nature and man, ghost worlds, etc) and, again, brings to life another interesting juncture in SA history.

The Islamic element of the story felt particularly novel. I also loved the way it reprises characters and events from 'A Dry White Season' - in the process reminding me of just how bloody good that one was. Could have done with losing the cat, mind.

And being a South African novel, it still feels
Nov 03, 2012 Anne-Marie rated it it was amazing
This book is about a sad and disturbing piece of history, but also about the strength of the human spirit. It's mainly about Philida, a slave woman, who was such a strong woman. It is also about how cruel some of the masters was to their slaves and I hung my head in shame to think they were my forefathers as well. But the story needed to be told and I think Andre P Brink did it the best by portraying both sides of the coin. The side of the masters and the side of the slaves.
Sep 13, 2013 Vanessa rated it really liked it
Brink is back with a bang in this well researched slave novel. Leaving the characters behind and closing the book at the very end I felt my heart wrench. A tour de force of human emotions and brilliant writing.
May 01, 2016 Morana rated it really liked it
I found some parts of this book really disturbing, to the point that I wanted to give up on reading it. But I continued, and the more I read, the more I grew fond of the main character Philida and wished things would turn out better for her.

The book portrays in a painfully realistic way the horrifying part of human history - slavery. And what's even worse than beatings, rapings and treating slaves worse than livestock is how convinced "baases" are in such treatments. They truly believe that it
Sep 06, 2014 Noor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When you make a topic like slavery as unmoving as this, you did something wrong.
Roger Brunyate
Jun 03, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
The End of Slavery
Here come shit. Just one look, and I can see it coming. Here I walk all this way and God know that its bad enough, what with the child in the abbadoek on my back, and now there's no turning back, it's just straight to hell and gone.
Distinguished South African writer André Brink has grabbed you with the very first line of his book, giving slavery the voice of a feisty and determined young woman. This is Philida, who has walked three days on foot to lay a complaint before the S
Jul 13, 2015 Marcy rated it it was amazing
Philida is a slave who is "taken" willingly by the slave owner's son, as they were friends growing up and had established a good relationship. Philida had several children by this man. He promised her her freedom and Philida believed in his promises. Unfortunately, the father wanted Philida for himself, but he was too old to make it happen. On one particular day, the slave owner wanted to humiliate Philida in front of his son, and two men were forced to rape Philida while others looked on.

Jared Brown
This looked like a really interesting book, and I've never read Andre Brink before, so I was pleased when I received this as a Goodread's free giveaway.

I'll spare the plot summary and simply mention a few things: the book is split into two main parts, the first told in first-person narration from various characters' perspective, and the second using third-person narration. Part two was the easiest to read of the two (and, for me, the most enjoyable), but I think that the first part is potentiall
Ben Dutton
Sep 07, 2012 Ben Dutton rated it it was amazing
André Brink’s latest novel, Philida, seems very personal. It tells the story of a slave woman, Philida, in the years and months before the emancipation of the slaves hits South Africa, in 1834. She is indentured to the Brink family, and she has been in a sexual relationship with the son, François, and has four children by him. Philida has gone to the magistrate to make a complaint against François: he promised her freedom and is now reneging on the deal. But the Brink family are on the verge of ...more
Jennifer D
Jan 04, 2016 Jennifer D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Petra
this is quite an interesting 'novel'. parts of the book, as noted by brink in the afterword, are true and actual historical events and feature real people. philida was a slave woman owned by the brother of one of andré brink's direct relatives. he kept the name in the novel. also real was zandvliet, the wine farm owned by the brink family. there were a few things that felt a bit odd to me in the novel. some of my quibbles (but not all, hence the 4-star rating over 5-star) were addressed in the a ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
After seeing it on 2012's Man Booker Longlist, I have been waiting for Andre Brink's Philida to make its way to the United States. The novel takes a somewhat different perspective, looking at slavery in South Africa as people begin to believe it will soon be abolished. Through alternating narrators, we are told the story of Philida, who sets off a chain of events when she files a complaint against her owner's son, and the father of her children, when he does not set her free as promised.

I wante
Catherine Woodman
Aug 12, 2013 Catherine Woodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

When I realized that the Man Booker 2013 long list had been announced and I had yet to come close to finishing up the Man Booker 2012 long list. I panicked. In a good way, I think. I really enjoy these 12-13 books each year. The Man Booker comes the closest to my taste in fiction as any other prize that I have made an effort to read the finalists for--and I am not a huge reader, mind you--but I do always make an effort to look at the short list for the National Book Award, the PEN Faulkner Award
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André Philippus Brink was a South African novelist. He wrote in Afrikaans and English and was until his retirement a Professor of English Literature at the University of Cape Town.

In the 1960s, he and Breyten Breytenbach were key figures in the Afrikaans literary movement known as Die Sestigers ("The Sixty-ers"). These writers sought to use Afrikaans as a language to speak against the apartheid go
More about André Brink...

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“Ouma Nella’s quotes p 144 -146
“Man, if you don’t know where you going, any road will bring you there.”

“It don’t matter how far a river run. It never forget where it come from. That is all that is important.”

“No matter if it’s wet or dry,” she grunt. “As long as you keep a green branch in your heart, there will always be a bird that come to sing in it.”

“It’s no use crying in the rain, my child, because no one will see your tears.
“Don't think you can climb two trees at the same time just because you got two legs.”

“Ouma Nella, where am I not?”
“But you’re right here with me, Philida. So there’s many places where you’re not.”
“Tell me where those places are. I got to know. So I can go and look for myself.”
“it’s a white man’s farm, and we are only the hands that work here, the feet that tread the grapes in the big vat, or churn up dust on the wide yard around the longhouse, we are the backs that bend until they feel like breaking, we are the necks that get throttled, the stomachs that get hollow from hunger, and mine are the hands that keep on knitting and knitting and honest-to-God never stop knitting,” 0 likes
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