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A Fork In The Road by Andre Brink

A Fork In The RoadAndre Brink unearths memories of his childhood, young adult years and the shock awakening about the levels of deep rooted divisions based on race during the apartheid era of South Africa. Brink, who is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed authors, leaves no stones unturned in this personal memoir, which serves as a lens into the personal conflict and struggles of his life. We even see him questioning God and religion as he tries to understand how the same people who go to church can turn and carry out heinous crimes against others.

What is also intriguing is Brink’s awkward relationship with his country of birth, a shift that occurred the day he saw his father, a magistrate, turn away a black man who came to seek his help after being badly beaten. From that day, the young Brink would decide the course of his own life despite being initiated into the Broederbond, a secret Afrikaner society, whose aim was to raise future leaders and maintain the iron grip on South Africa.

Brinks narrative contains so much pain, from the Sharpeville Massacre to the Soweto Uprisings among other pivotal political moments of South Africa’s turbulent apartheid existence; including the release of Nelson Mandela. Your mind rolls back the years to try and visualise the type of hardship, which leaps at you from the pages of this intense memoir of personal loss, love and Brinks commitment to fighting for the humanity of others. A commitment that would result in him being censored and monitored for years. Yet, he found a way to speak his own truths.

We also see a man who is not afraid to open his heart to the world as he recalls his relationship with Ingrid Jonker, a South African poet with her personal demons. A relationship that was beleaguered from the onset but in her, Brink would also learn about fearlessness. A woman he would come to show a great deal of respect as he tells the world about her. A Fork In The Road, is deeply moving and thought-provoking personal journey to remind us of errors that should make us keep our promise of never again.

A Fork In The Road is published by Vintage Books

Note: This review first appeared in the New African magazine, July 2010 edition.


One Response to “A Fork In The Road by Andre Brink”

  1. […] work /or/ that of other published writers.  Rather, I’d like to take my lead from the memoirs of Andre Brink, A Fork in the Road, which we will hear from this evening. Brink reconfigures this suspicious ‘either/or’ into an […]

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