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Skinner's Drift: A Novel

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  323 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Ten years after leaving South Africa, Eva van Rensburg returns to her dying father, a violent stuttering man whose terrible secret Eva has kept since she was a child, and to Skinner's Drift, the family farm, a tough stretch of land on the Limpopo River where jackals and leopards still roam.

In this beautiful, brave, and extraordinarily moving first novel, Lisa Fugard pain
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jun 12, 2009 Marguerite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skinner's Drift is a look back at South Africa during apartheid by an expatriate who returns to the new South Africa to see her dying father. Eva grew up on a farm in the 20th century amid the Boer culture, though her mother was "English." The latter dynamic might explain her remove from the culture -- and the role of outsider is one of the novel's themes. But her father's violence and prominence in Eva's life also play a role in her voluntary exile. Lisa Fugard uses flashbacks and a journal to ...more
Carl R.
May 06, 2012 Carl R. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Skinner’s Drift is Lisa Fugard’s debut novel, and I think it’s a bit of a fraud. There’s some good language, many interesting characters--so many that the book loses focus. However, the important flaw is the way Fugard treats the secret that lies at the heart of the story. She commits the unpardonable sin of hiding that secret with no motivation except that it serves her authorial purpose.
We spend many pages inside the minds of everyone who knows the secret. It’s something that has changed th
Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree that Lisa Fugard knows how to paint a picture with prose. Her evocative language, put to good use as a travel writer for The New York Times, delivers a vibrant illustration of Skinner's Drift and Fugard's native South Africa. Beyond its descriptions, though, this ambitious first novel suffers from some uneven plotting and overly simplistic characterizations. Reviewers agree that the first two-thirds of the book contain "moments of true grace" (Christian Science Monitor). But the bo

Bonnie ZoBell
Jan 22, 2015 Bonnie ZoBell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning and vivid story immersed in African sensibilities, images, and political issues from different time periods. Eva returns to Johannesburg and unresolved issues regarding her father's violence after living in the U.S. Great tension and a fascinating look at Africa from an insider. The writing is excellent!
Karen Germain
Nov 17, 2007 Karen Germain rated it it was amazing
One of the top books that I have read this year. I bought it at a book fair and really had no idea what it was about. A woman recommended it and I bought it without even reading the back.

I grabbed me right away and I was captivated throughout the entire novel. Set in Africa, this book is not for the squeamish, as it has several very graphic descriptions of taxidermy, poaching and bush life in general. The book is sort of a mystery and it unfolded in a way that I didn't expect. It also has reall
Ruth Chatlien
Mar 30, 2013 Ruth Chatlien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had not heard of Skinner's Drift by Lisa Fugard until a friend gave it to me. It's set in South Africa of the 1990s--after apartheid has ended and while the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is looking into old crimes. Eva, the main character, has been living in the United States since shortly after her mother died. Now she has come back to her homeland because her father, a farmer whose land bordered the Limpopo River, is dying. Once there, Eva has to face the past she fled from and its ter ...more
Leila Summers
May 07, 2011 Leila Summers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a South African who read this book after taking part in a writer’s workshop with the author, Lisa Fugard. Set on the farm, Skinner’s Drift, the stirring family drama takes place during the strife-ridden 1980s in South Africa. From the rich language and absorbing plot to the complex characters and sensory imagery, this book had me engaged from beginning to end. I was also impressed by the effortless manner in which the author moved through different time frames and points of view. If you enj ...more
She really gives the feel or should I say dread that follows you in RSA. Great 1st book. Everyone I lent it to, loved it
Tessa Stockton
Eva van Rensburg returns to her homeland, and to the side of her dying father, only to find South Africa greatly changed from when she left ten years ago. At last she faces her demons and begins coming to terms with family and national politics, combing through harbored secrets both tragic and violent, alongside others with whom she grew up. Beautiful yet bloody, this guilt-ridden story extended tendrils that desperately sought for the existence of clemency.

At the finish, I couldn’t decide betw
Feb 22, 2015 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm always interested in reading books about South Africa, but this one just kind of dragged on and on, for me.
Dec 27, 2011 Patti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found it difficult to put this book down, it held my interest from beginning to end. Set on the farm, Skinner’s Drift, the stirring family drama takes place during the strife-ridden 1980s in South Africa. From the rich language and absorbing plot to the complex characters and sensory imagery, this book had me engaged from beginning to end. I was also impressed by the effortless manner in which the author moved through different time frames and points of view. If you enjoy a well-crafted and th ...more
Ronald Wilcox
Lisa Fugard's first novel is set in her native country, South Africa, at a farm called Skinner's Drift. Eva returns after a ten year absence when she hears that her father is gravely ill. Reading through some of her dead mother's diaries from ten year's before, she reminisces about the way life was then and prepares to face the way life is in South Africa after apartheid has ended. Some beautiful writing in the book but truthfully felt the subject matter held so much more potential than is found ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skinner's Drift is fabulously plotted. I'm keenly interested in the subject matter: white farmers in South Africa in the revolutionary period leading up to Mandela's release and the period following. Fugard treats her material deftly and rather amazingly handles at least ten points of view, some white, and some black African. The novel is extremely disturbing, as it should be. I was somewhat dissatisfied with the ending, which is not at all cathartic. It feels as if the writer didn't know how to ...more
Tim O'Neill
Feb 29, 2016 Tim O'Neill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good first book which shows talent and insight.
Feb 05, 2016 Lo rated it it was amazing
Compelling story and very well-written
Susan McBeth
Apr 23, 2013 Susan McBeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So glad I happened upon Lisa's book and gave it a chance because, I hate to confess, I was not a fan of the book jacket or the title, but there is a reason that we don't judge books by their covers, and this is a case on point. Fugard's novel beautifully interweaves the story of a white farming family in South Africa with the black laborers who work the farm, while simultaneously conveying the injustice of apartheid racism that prevailed in those cruel times. I look forward to more of this talen ...more
Karenbike Patterson
Beautifully written story of a family in the borderlands of South Africa during apartheid. Eloquent in description of the beauty and harshness of the land, the relationship of mother, father, daughter, and the viewpoints of the black people who "served" them. The animals, landscape, rivers all come to life.
The growing tension and nervousness of the farmers and the native people as walls go up and guns are stored all are metaphors for the walls people put around themselves to contain their secre
Dec 04, 2007 Brooke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book more than thought I would and didn't really "get it" until right at the end. This is the story of Eva, a white south african woman who left for America right before the end of apartheid. She goes back 10 years later, when her father is gravely ill. He was the reason she left and we never really find out the whole story as to why until the very end. This book was an interesting look at the relationships of black's and white's in this era of South Africa.
Jan 13, 2011 Evelyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
This story takes place in South Africa about a daughter who returns to SA to see her dying father. The chapters flip back and forth between the present (1997) and the past (early 1980s) and the tension of that earlier time period. The first novel for this author, I thought it was rather simply written. Worth the read if you want to learn more about South Africa and the changes occurring during the transition from apartheid.
Moorhead Public Library
Sep 15, 2015 Moorhead Public Library rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel, by Lisa Fugard, daughter of South African playwright Athol Fugard, is the story of a daughter who returns to South Africa to tend to her dying father. Eva struggles with keeping her father's secret - one she's kept since the years of Apartheid during her childhood.

A beautifully written novel...A must read!

Reviewed by: Jody
Jun 16, 2009 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read and an interesting look into South Africa culture.

I stayed with it and was intrigued by how the story switched from present to past to weave its mystery. However, without giving anything away, I would say I was disappointed in the ending. While you got some answers it felt very unresolved and unfinished to me.
Aug 11, 2011 Mari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't put this book down, it gripped me from the first page and I got emotionally involved in the story.beautifully written, Lisa Fugard describes the African bush in the most captivating way.She tells the story through The lenses of the different characters .... I felt their joy, their anger ,their love, their pain.
I was very taken with the descriptions of the people and their difficult relationships, particularly those between persons of different colour skins.
I am an African, born and raised, white skinned.
Miss Fugard has described the uncertainties of race relations in the new Africa very well, without preaching.
My thanks
Oct 04, 2015 Virginia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book
Alisa Dyson
Jan 27, 2008 Alisa Dyson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was immediately drawn into this increidble story of apartheid politics and family tragedy. This novel compelled me to look at my own views of apartheid and seek further education into how I can help the people of South Africa confront the educational deprivation of this challenging land.
Jun 25, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the flight into Johannesburg in the first pages, this book about truth and reconciliation in Africa will make you feel the locale and people. But mostly, you will hear the story of Africa in the many metaphors for language: spoken, written, stuttered, grunted . . .
I was in this part of South Africa several years ago, and this novel took me right back. Although the plot failed to engage me fully, the characters were drawn with great vividness, and the language was wonderful. If and when LK finishes her second novel, I'd like to read it.
Nov 15, 2007 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I kept hoping it would get better. It was just interesting enought that I was convinced that it was going somewhere. And then the last chapter started out SO well. And then it ended suckily (that may not be a word in the dictionary, but it is an accurate description).
Jul 24, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am drawn to all authors writing about Africa and I have always enjoyed the plays of Athol Fugard. Lisa Fugard is his daughter and this is her first book. I found it to be a mesmerising portrait of a family and a wonderful picture of the land'
Nov 01, 2012 Regina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting story about an Afrikaans family before and after apartheid. I found it difficult to feel much sympathy with "the whites," but that may well have been because Fugard did a good job of showing who they were...
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Lisa Fugard was born in South Africa and came to the United States in 1980. After working in the theater, performing in New York, London and South Africa, she turned her attention to writing. Her short fiction has been published in Story, Outside and literary magazines. Her many travel articles and essays have been published in the New York Times. Skinner’s Drift is her first novel. She now lives ...more
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“Once he reached the farm he followed a barely used dirt road that led towards the sandstone cliffs. He heard the dog scrabbling across the rocky ground. The huffling of her breath. Some of the rocks were quite large and he turned and watched her stumble into them. In terrain like this she could easily break a leg and yet she lurched on, determined to find him. When she finally reached him she touched his leg with her nose, before settling down a few feet away, blind head looking out of over the dry Limpopo below. He wished he could pluck out her eyes and hold them in his hands like marbles. Rub them together, make thunder, bring rain. Instead he nudged the safety catch off his rifle and shot her.” 1 likes
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