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By Marlene Van Niekerk

Set in apartheid South Africa, Agaat portrays the original courting among Milla, a 67-year-old white lady, and her black maidservant grew to become caretaker, Agaat. via flashbacks and diary entries, the reader learns approximately Milla's earlier. existence for white farmers in Fifties South Africa used to be choked with promise — younger and newly married, Milla raised a son and created her personal farm out of a swathe of Cape mountainside. 40 years later her family members has fallen aside, the rustic she knew is near to large swap, and all she has left are stories and her proud, opposite, but affectionate dad or mum. With haunting, lyrical prose, Marlene Van Niekerk creates a narrative of affection and relatives loyalty. Winner of the South African Sunday occasions Fiction Prize in 2007, Agaat was once translated because the approach of the ladies via Michiel Heyns, who got the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation.

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Example text

As if the one should be a constant reminder to me of what I’m suffering from. As if the other is proof that everything she reads to me from the little books was written by myself. As if the two documents belong to the same order of truth. I’m sick of staring at the two tattered pieces of paper every time she removes my book or magazine from the reading stand and packs it away. Sick of having to listen too, because she spells it out aloud for me, presses her finger on it, on the table, on the dedication.

Just you wait, Jak said, you’ll end up with the sentinel in your sweet-talking mouth. You weren’t altogether sure what he meant but you laughed along with him. Jak was right about your mother. She had finished off your father. He’d become ever more silent with the years. Must have been ill already the evening of the engagement. You could tell from his reticence while your mother took out the maps and spread the papers of Grootmoedersdrift on the dining room table. It had been her ancestral land for generations back in her mother’s line, from the Steyn and the Spies lines.

A cantata of the great brown river, the Breede River, its catchment deep in the Grootwinterhoek, the great lair of winter, fed by the run-off from fern-tips, from wind-cut grooves in stone, to a hand’s-breadth rill, a leap-over-sluit amongst porcupine-rush, a misty waterfall where red disas sway in the wake of the water. Until all waterfalls flow together over a base of black rock, and the stream starts cutting into the dry land, finding a winding of its own making, at last becoming a waterway, wide enough for shipping, deep enough for bridges, for ferries, for landing-stages and commerce.

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