Antony Sher Middlepost

ISBN 13: 9780349108254


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9780349108254: Middlepost

A tragic-comic first novel set in South Africa at the turn of the century. The novel's hero emigrates from Lithuania because of anti-semitism. He arrives in South Africa and encounters a culture full of contradictions, peopled by bizarre and colourful characters: Breedt and Quinn, foes from the recent Boer War, locked in a silent battle of wills; April, their Shakespeare-spouting slave; Nakosa, the Bushgirl with extra breasts; Gommie, the half-caste who rises from the dead only to die again; the Scuteris, travelling opera singers-cum-barbers who bring a day of magical festivity to the isolated settlement of Middlepost. Antony Sher was born in South Africa in 1949 and settled in England in 1968. He has also written "Year of the King".

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From Publishers Weekly:

Cross Sholem Aleichem with Miguel de Cervantes, then update, and you get Antony Sher, an actor turned author of a marvelous novel about the adventures of Smous, a 35-year-old idler who, escaping pogroms, flees Lithuania at the turn of the century to find an uncle and cousin in South Africa. When he sees his first black man, Smous observes that "the darkness came with him; it was as though the doorway had not released him, or that the sun, where he was concerned, had lost its power." A child in an adult body, Smous goes on to report his vicissitudes during the years it takes him to connect with his family, speaking Yiddish to Boers who respond in Afrikaans, Yiddish to English, Yiddish to Africans who speak Xhosa or unnamed tribal languages. All these people communicate by gesture, all fail to communicate, sometimes deliberately. Whatever their language or background, everyone exploits people of color and they exploit each other. So this story about a single ignorant emigrant is also the story of the Jew, himself a victim in South Africa, and his active and passive complicity in racist brutality, the story of all exiles, of all culture shock, of the process of human violence. But Sher's mythic characters, rather than living happily ever after, lay the foundation for today's South Africa. A bestseller in England, this brilliant and woeful book should do as well on these shores.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In this picaresque novel of South Africa, set at the turn of the century, Jewish peddler Smous has fled the pogroms of his native Lithuania. After losing his name (Immerman), his gear, and much of his ethnic identity, and armed with only a scroll written in English saying that he is seeking his uncle in Calvina, this Yiddish-speaking adventurer sallies forth to encounter the most eccentric group of people on his travels--all of whom speak a variety of languages, none of them Yiddish. Boers and Britons and bushpeople, and a Shakespearean-speaking Xhosa, are some of the cast. Basing his tale on his grandfather's life, Sher--formerly of South Africa and now an actor in London's Royal Shakespeare Company--offers a rich profusion of language, excellent dialogue, wild adventure, and a vision of the history and people of South Africa.
- Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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