A veteran of the secret war in Angola and Namibia, Paul Sweetbread reflects on how his life was affected by turbulence and apartheid, from his mother's removal from a Chekhov play and his education in the government's version of history to his forced appearance before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A first novel. 20,000 first printing.
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Tony Eprile is the author of Temporary Sojourner & Other South African Stories, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He grew up in South Africa and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He lives in Bennington, Vermont.From Publishers Weekly:
A South African man with an inconvenient near-photographic memory is the protagonist of this gently satirical novel chronicling the injustices of the secret 1980s wars in Namibia and Angola. As a boy, Paul Sweetbread is fat and sensitive, the Jewish son of an exterminator father and temperamental mother. After doing poorly at his local university, Paul enlists in the army. Although he has all manner of comrades, from the scholarly and cynical Roelof to his cocky and demanding semimentor Captain Lyddie, Paul's corpulence often makes him the butt of jokes. He eventually becomes part of an army filming crew, capturing several scandalously violent battle episodes on film. Paul's version of the events he witnesses—most notably the unnecessary massacre of a group of homeward-bound soldiers after a cease-fire has been decreed—is called into question at a trial before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where a psychiatrist from Paul's childhood cartoonishly appears to pronounce his old patient unstable, and Captain Lyddie, too, stands against him. But Paul is a survivor, and he bobs up again, finally embarking on a civilian life that promises to be more placid. Eprile sometimes gets carried away on the tide of his acrobatic, erudite prose, but this is a clever, bitingly human bildungsroman.
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