A Dry White Season
Ben Du Toit is a white schoolteacher in suburban Johannesburg in a dark time of intolerance and state-sanctioned apartheid. A simple ...more
Brink risked his own reputation and safety to speak out about prejudice and injustice in South Africa in the late 1970s.
A Dry White Season, once the frame story is dispensed with, tells of the batt ...more
"it is a dry white season
dark leaves don't last, their brief lives dry out
and with a broken heart they dive down gently headed
for the earth.
not even bleeding.
it is a dry white season brother,
only the trees know the pain as they still stand erect
dry like steel, thei ...more
I sort of breezed through this book, which is totally the author's fault because it was just that good. I was invested the entire time. Ben Du Toit is a white schoolteacher in Johannesburg during the Apartheid. When a black friend comes to him for ...more
And yet, how fictional is it really? Ben DuToit, Gordon Ngubene and their families may be fictional, but the setting and atrocities committed under Apartheid existed, and haunt us still.
Gordon Ngubene's son Jonathan is detained during the Soweto riots. Gordon has no idea where he is and approaches Ben ...more
1) It is possible to live in an oppressive society and not come to terms with it. This is willful to differing degrees, depending on the information to which people were exposed. The whites living in apartheid, who benefited from the system, didn't want to acknowledge the horrors of the oppression upon which their position in society was built. Most simply didn ...more
This book has dated, inevitably. It is set in the dark days of apartheid in the late 70’s, and so much has changed in South Africa since then, that any novel that gets to grips with the politics of that time, that rails against a system which is long gone (if not forgotten), is bound to suffer. When it was published, its immediate political message cut ice; now there is no more ice to cut – at least, not the same ice. And this is a very political novel, if told from a very personal poin...more
A Dry White Season is a sad, depressing look at racial prejudices in apartheid South Africa through the story of a white man trying to bring justice to the memory of a black man. Ben du Toit is a schoolteacher whose life changes when he becomes involved with the family of the school caretaker Gordon Ngubene. Set around the Soweto Riots the boo ...more
This book tells the story of Ben Du Toit, an unremarkable Afrikaner school teacher in 1970's Johannesburg. He becomes involved in the education of the school janitor's son, and after the adolescent is killed in the Soweto Riots, Ben begins helping the black janitor (Gordon) in his quest to uncover the truth. Brink's story unfold ...more
On the other hand, A Dry White Season feels like an amalgamation of 1984 and Cry, the Beloved Country in a comparatively modern South Africa. The novel was pe ...more
Peu à peu, il ouvre des yeux incrédules sur un système qu'il cautionne par ignorance et par lâcheté et qui entretient une communauté, un peuple, dans le désespoir et la résignation.
La naïveté de Ben est telle qu'il croit encore à une justice où toute notion de couleur ou de race serait abolie, mais dans les années quatre-vingt en Afrique du Sud, l'espoir est un p ...more
- He was a fucking creep for 99.3% of this book (commenting on how a girl looks so childlike and vulnerable and then how sexy she is in the same breath??)
- He had no respect for his family
- He was quick to judge strangers (especially women's bodies) when, trust me, he wa ...more
Ben du Toit is a very intriguing character. and like so many white South Africans waking up after the Soweto "riots" of 1976 he comes to an awareness not only of the politics of his fellow countrymen, but of the whole meaning of his life. What I like about this book, partic ...more
Ben just refuses to see the fact that no authorities are willing to see the truth, even i ...more
On est tout de suite plongé dans l'histoire : bon sens du rythme.
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
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For a long time, as I lay there trying to clear my mind, I couldn't think coherently at all, conscious only of a terrible, blind bitterness. Why had they singled me out? Didn't they understand? Had everything I'd gone through on their behalf been utterly in vain? Did it really count for nothing? What had happened to logic, meaning and sense?
But I feel much calmer now. It helps to discipline oneself like this, writing it down to see it set out on paper, to try and weigh it and find some significance in it.
Prof Bruwer: There are only two kinds of madness one should guard against, Ben. One is the belief that we can do everything. The other is the belief that we can do nothing.
I wanted to help. Right. I meant it very sincerely. But I wanted to do it on my terms. And I am white, and they are black. I thought it was still possible to reach beyond our whiteness and blackness. I thought that to reach out and touch hands across the gulf would be sufficient in itself. But I grasped so little, really: as if good intentions from my side could solve it all. It was presumptuous of me. In an ordinary world, in a natural one, I might have succeeded. But not in this deranged, divided age. I can do all I can for Gordon or scores of others who have come to me; I can imagine myself in their shoes, I can project myself into their suffering. But I cannot, ever, live their lives for them. So what else could come of it but failure?
Whether I like it or not, whether I feel like cursing my own condition or not -- and that would only serve to confirm my impotence -- I am white. This is the small, final, terrifying truth of my broken world. I am white. And because I am white I am born into a state of privilege. Even if I fight the system that has reduced us to this I remain white, and favored by the very circumstances I abhor. Even if I'm hated, and ostracized, and persecuted, and in the end destroyed, nothing can make me black. And so those who are cannot but remain suspicious of me. In their eyes my very efforts to identify myself with Gordon, whit all the Gordons, would be obscene. Every gesture I make, every act I commit in my efforts to help them makes it more difficult for them to define their real needs and discover for themselves their integrity and affirm their own dignity. How else could we hope to arrive beyond predator and prey, helper and helped, white and black, and find redemption?
On the other hand: what can I do but what I have done? I cannot choose not to intervene: that would be a denial and a mockery not only of everything I believe in, but of the hope that compassion may survive among men. By not acting as I did I would deny the very possibility of that gulf to be bridged.
If I act, I cannot but lose. But if I do not act, it is a different kind of defeat, equally decisive and maybe worse. Because then I will not even have a conscience left.
The end seems ineluctable: failure, defeat, loss. The only choice I have left is whether I am prepared to salvage a little honour, a little decency, a little humanity -- or nothing. It seems as if a sacrifice is impossible to avoid, whatever way one looks at it. But at least one has the choice between a wholly futile sacrifice and one that might, in the long run, open up a possibility, however negligible or dubious, of something better, less sordid and more noble, for our children…
They live on. We, the fathers, have lost.”
Alone. Alone to the very end. I… every one of us. But to have been granted the grace of meeting and touching so fleetingly: is that not the most awesome and wonderful thing one can hope for in this world?”