Catalogue


Other lives : a novel in three parts /
André Brink.
imprint
Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks Landmark, c2008.
description
316 p. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
1402213913, 9781402213915
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks Landmark, c2008.
isbn
1402213913
9781402213915
contents note
The blue door -- Mirror -- Appassionata.
catalogue key
6668373
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Excerpt from The Blue Door 1 THERE WAS, FIRST, THE DREAM.WHICH SHOULD have alerted me, except that I'm not normally into dreams. But this one I found strangely disquieting, and carried it with me, like a persistent tune in my head, throughout that long day. Until the shocking moment in the early dusk. The kind of moment that once turned the life of Kafka's Gregor Samsa upside down. But this was not fiction. It happened. And to me. Not that the dream had any direct bearing on what happened in the evening. But in some subliminal way, and with hindsight, there did seem to be a connection which I have not been able to figure out. Nor, I must confess, have I tried. I believe that dreams belong to the night in which they're dreamt and should preferably not be allowed to spill into the day. This time it was different. In the dream I am embarking on a long journey with my family, moving house. My wife Lydia is there, but also three children, three little girls, very blonde, with very blue eyes. This is perturbing. We do not have children, and after nine years of marriage it still hurts, although both of us have become skilled at pretending it doesn't matter; not anymore. Lydia gets into the front of the truck with the driver. The girls are already in the back, perched high up on the mountain of furniture like little monkeys. I join them and we drive off very slowly, the load swaying precariously. It is a sweltering day and the children are perspiring profusely, strands of their blonde hair clinging to their cheeks and foreheads. They seem to have difficulty breathing. Before we have reached the first corner, I realize that we will never make it like this. We need water for the journey for the children to survive. I start hammering with my hands on the cabin of the truck. The driver stops and peers up at me, a surly expression on his thick face which is turning an ominous purple. "I've got to get water for the kids," I explain. "I left three bottles on the kitchen sink." "We don't have time," growls the driver. "I won't be long," I insist. "And they won't survive without water in this heat." He mutters a reply, mercifully inaudible, and I jump off. "Just drive on slowly," I try to placate him. "I'll soon catch up with you." The girls begin to cry, but I give them a reassuring wave as I trot off into the simmering and searing white day. Only when I arrive at the kitchen door do I realize that I have no keys with me. Glancing round to give another wave to the children, I hurriedly begin to jog around the house to find a means of entry. Only after three exhausting rounds do I spot a half-open window. In the distance, the truck is beginning to disappear in a cloud of dust. I manage to climb into the house and collect the bottles of water. They are ice cold against my chest. But now the window through which I have entered is barred, and I lose precious time rushing this way and that through the house. Everything seems locked and bolted. I become aware of rising panic inside me. Then at last, somehow, in the inexplicable manner of dreams, I am outside again, still clutching the water bottles to my chest. By now the truck is nowhere to be seen. Only a small cloud of dust, the size of a man's hand, hangs in the distance. I start running. In the heat my legs turn to lead. But I persevere. I have to, otherwise my family will be lost: they do not know where we are heading for, I am the only one who knows the address. On and on I run. From time to time I catch a glimpse of the diminishing truck. On, on, on. I have to. I just have to. In the distance I can hear the thin voices of the children wailing, more and more faintly. Once I believe I can
First Chapter
<br>Excerpt from The Blue Door<br><br>1<br>THERE WAS, FIRST, THE DREAM.WHICH SHOULD have alerted me, except that I'm not normally into dreams. But this one I found strangely disquieting, and carried it with me, like a persistent tune in my head, throughout that long day. Until the shocking moment in the early dusk. The kind of moment that once turned the life of Kafka's Gregor Samsa upside down. But this was not fiction. It happened. And to me. <br><br>Not that the dream had any direct bearing on what happened in the evening. But in some subliminal way, and with hindsight, there did seem to be a connection which I have not been able to figure out. Nor, I must confess, have I tried. I believe that dreams belong to the night in which they're dreamt and should preferably not be allowed to spill into the day. This time it was different.<br><br>In the dream I am embarking on a long journey with my family, moving house. My wife Lydia is there, but also three children, three little girls, very blonde, with very blue eyes. This is perturbing. We do not have children, and after nine years of marriage it still hurts, although both of us have become skilled at pretending it doesn't matter; not anymore. Lydia gets into the front of the truck with the driver. The girls are already in the back, perched high up on the mountain of furniture like little monkeys. I join them and we drive off very slowly, the load swaying precariously. It is a sweltering day and the children are perspiring profusely, strands of their blonde hair clinging to their cheeks and foreheads. <br><br>They seem to have difficulty breathing. Before we have reached the first corner, I realize that we will never make it like this. We need water for the journey for the children to survive. I start hammering with my hands on the cabin of the truck. The driver stops and peers up at me, a surly expression on his thick face which is turning an ominous purple.<br><br>"I've got to get water for the kids," I explain. "I left three bottles on the kitchen sink."<br>"We don't have time," growls the driver.<br>"I won't be long," I insist. "And they won't survive without water in this heat."<br><br>He mutters a reply, mercifully inaudible, and I jump off.<br><br>"Just drive on slowly," I try to placate him. "I'll soon catch up with you."<br>The girls begin to cry, but I give them a reassuring wave as I trot off into the simmering and searing white day.<br><br>Only when I arrive at the kitchen door do I realize that I have no keys with me. Glancing round to give another wave to the children, I hurriedly begin to jog around the house to find a means of entry. Only after three exhausting rounds do I spot a half-open window. In the distance, the truck is beginning to disappear in a cloud of dust.<br><br>I manage to climb into the house and collect the bottles of water. They are ice cold against my chest. But now the window through which I have entered is barred, and I lose precious time rushing this way and that through the house. Everything seems locked and bolted. I become aware of rising panic inside me.<br><br>Then at last, somehow, in the inexplicable manner of dreams, I am outside again, still clutching the water bottles to my chest. By now the truck is nowhere to be seen. Only a small cloud of dust, the size of a man's hand, hangs in the distance.<br><br>I start running. In the heat my legs turn to lead. But I persevere. I have to, otherwise my family will be lost: they do not know where we are heading for, I am the only one who knows the address. On and on I run. From time to time I catch a glimpse of the diminishing truck. On, on, on. I have to. I just have to. <br><br>In the distance I can hear the thin voices of the children wailing, more and more faintly. Once I believe I can hear Lydia calling:<br><br>"David! David, hurry!"<br><br>Then that, too, dies away. In the ferocious glare of the day I redouble my efforts. But in the end I am forced to admit that it is useless. I shall never catch up with the truck. I shall never see Lydia and the children again. <br><br>That was where the dream ended.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-08-01:
Stylistically precise and emotionally evocative, this latest novel from prolific and much-lauded South African novelist, dramatist, and educator Brink provides a window on life in contemporary Cape Town. Only this window keeps shifting as one reads. Long known as a vocal opponent of apartheid, Brink is here less overtly political than in earlier novels like Act of Terror. The narrative offers three intertwining stories that probe familiar themes of racial tension and postcolonial identity. Characters, relationships, and events overlap in intriguing ways, with "Mirror" providing background information about characters appearing in the other two stories as well as an alternative version of the events in "Appassionata." While the female characters all seem somewhat alike, as if they were different versions of the same person, they are nevertheless strong and sexy. Though the sameness is probably unintentional, it adds to the surreal quality of the interwoven stories. Recommended for literary fiction collections and libraries with an interest in South African literature.--Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
Rooted in the post-apartheid reality, the haunting connections raise elemental issues, disquieting and passionate. Do we always want to get home?
"Rooted in the post-apartheid reality, the haunting connections raise elemental issues, disquieting and passionate. Do we always want to get home? " - Booklist
A realistic book with surrealistic twists that allows the author to explore themes of race in contemporary South Africa. Brink (Before I Forget, 2007, etc.) presents his narrative in three discrete but related parts. The first, "The Blue Door," begins with an allusion to Kafka's The Metamorphosis, a story that supplies an appropriate metaphor for the world Brink's characters inhabit. David and Lydia are preparing for a dinner party with their friends Steve and Carla. As David, an artist who has recently experienced some commercial success, steps through the blue door that leads to his house, he's greeted by cries of "Daddy!"-strange, because in their nine years of marriage he and Lydia have had no children. An even bigger shock occurs when he's also greeted by his "wife," Sarah, a black woman of great beauty and sex appeal. Just as Gregor Samsa tries to make sense of his situation, Steve also is bewildered but ultimately accepting of this strange new world. "Mirror" involves a similar tale of transformation. This story focuses on Steve and Carla, but here Steve looks into the elaborate art nouveau mirror Carla has bought and discovers he is in fact black. Other characters take this dream reality at face value (no pun intended)-for them Steve has always been black-but Steve needs to accommodate himself to a new self-image, one that he doesn't comfortably inhabit. Toward the end of this section he and Carla are having a quiet dinner at a local restaurant when they're interrupted by five masked thugs. Carla startles Steve by urging him to engage these quasi-terrorists in a dialogue because "'You're one of them.'" The final episode follows the relationship between Derek Hugo, a pianist who teaches the two talented daughters of Steve and Carla, and Nina Rousseau, a talented but reclusive soprano, who wind up being caught in the same terrifying restaurant experience. While at times a bit facile and almost overly clever, an ultimately fascinating commentary on race and identity.
""Brink's portrait of a contemporary South Africa mobbed by unappeased ghosts has a disquieting resonance as a meditation on how the past continues to infiltrate the present." " - The New York Times Book Review
"Brink's portrait of a contemporary South Africa mobbed by unappeased ghosts has a disquieting resonance as a meditation on how the past continues to infiltrate the present."
White architect David looks in the bathroom mirror one morning in Cape Town and discovers he is black. Unsettling as this revelation is, David, always the opportunist, sees that his new skin color could be an advantage in the new South Africa. Afrikaner artist Steve cannot get home to his sweet wife, but he finds he has a beautiful Xhosa wife and two lovely kids. Is this a guilty throwback to a mixed-race woman he once deserted? Then there's frustrated white musician Derek, forced to work as an accompanist and teacher, who has sex with a gorgeous pianist and, nearly, with David's wife. The three stories come together in a violent restaurant holdup, as eminent South African writer Brink fuses the racist past with contemporary upheaval, evoking Magritte-type scenarios of dreams, wishes, and unrealizable desires. Rooted in the post-apartheid reality, the haunting connections raise elemental issues, disquieting and passionate. Do we always want to get home? - Hazel Rochman
A realistic book with surrealistic twists that allows the author to explore themes of race in contemporary South Africa. Brink (Before I Forget, 2007, etc.) presents his narrative in three discrete but related parts. The first, "The Blue Door," begins with an allusion to Kafka's The Metamorphosis, a story that supplies an appropriate metaphor for the world Brink's characters inhabit. David and Lydia are preparing for a dinner party with their friends Steve and Carla. As David, an artist who has recently experienced some commercial success, steps through the blue door that leads to his house, he's greeted by cries of "Daddy!"-strange, because in their nine years of marriage he and Lydia have had no children. An even bigger shock occurs when he's also greeted by his "wife," Sarah, a black woman of great beauty and sex appeal. Just as Gregor Samsa tries to make sense of his situation, Steve also is bewildered but ultimately accepting of this strange new world. "Mirror" involves a similar tale of transformation. This story focuses on Steve and Carla, but here Steve looks into the elaborate art nouveau mirror Carla has bought and discovers he is in fact black. Other characters take this dream reality at face value (no pun intended)-for them Steve has always been black-but Steve needs to accommodate himself to a new self-image, one that he doesn't comfortably inhabit. Toward the end of this section he and Carla are having a quiet dinner at a local restaurant when they're interrupted by five masked thugs. Carla startles Steve by urging him to engage these quasi-terrorists in a dialogue because "'You're one of them.' " The final episode follows the relationship between Derek Hugo, a pianist who teaches the two talented daughters of Steve and Carla, and Nina Rousseau, a talented but reclusive soprano, who wind up being caught in the same terrifying restaurant experience. While at times a bit facile and almost overly clever, an ultimately fascinating commentary on race and identity.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly,
Booklist, August 2008
Library Journal, August 2008
New York Times Book Review, September 2008
New York Times Full Text Review, October 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In just one morning, he forgot who he was...Three provocative and interconnected stories from one of the world's greatest living writers:A white painter in Africa comes to his studio in the afternoon. On his doorstep, he sees a woman with curly hair and a dark complexion. He has never seen her before, but she embraces him. As he steps past her, two strange children rush to his feet yelling "Daddy!" This family welcomes him home, but he knows none of them.On the other side of Cape Town, a white man pulls himself out of bed and toward his mirror, where he is confronted by his suddenly black face.A concert pianist falls passionately in love with the celebrated singer he works beside, but cannot bring himself to touch her, until one night they sit down to eat dinner, and look up to see themselves surrounded by armed men.In this new novel, Andre Brink is at his best, exploring the fractured yet globalized world where we find ourselves and our lives transformed.PRAISE FOR ANDRE BRINK"South African novelist Brink is a master stylist." Publishers Weekly"Brink describes calamities and absurdities of the apartheid system with a cold lucidity that in no way interferes with high emotion and daring flights of the imagination." Mario Vargas Llosa, New York Times Book Review"One of the most important and prolific voices from South Africa." Library Journal"If you want to get the feeling of South Africa, as strongly as Camus gives you the feeling of Algiers, you will turn to Andreacute; Brink." Tribune"Brink writes feelingly of South Africa-the land, the black, the white, the terrible beauty and tragedy that lies therein." Publishers Weekly"Brink is a hard-eyed storyteller." Philadelphia Inquirer
Main Description
In just one morning, he forgot who he was... Three provocative and interconnected stories from one of the world's greatest living writers: A white painter in Africa comes to his studio in the afternoon. On his doorstep, he sees a woman with curly hair and a dark complexion. He has never seen her before, but she embraces him. As he steps past her, two strange children rush to his feet yelling "Daddy!" This family welcomes him home, but he knows none of them. On the other side of Cape Town, a white man pulls himself out of bed and toward his mirror, where he is confronted by his suddenly black face. A concert pianist falls passionately in love with the celebrated singer he works beside, but cannot bring himself to touch her, until one night they sit down to eat dinner, and look up to see themselves surrounded by armed men. In this new novel, Andre Brink is at his best, exploring the fractured yet globalized world where we find ourselves and our lives transformed. PRAISE FOR ANDRE BRINK "South African novelist Brink is a master stylist." Publishers Weekly "Brink describes calamities and absurdities of the apartheid system with a cold lucidity that in no way interferes with high emotion and daring flights of the imagination." Mario Vargas Llosa, New York Times Book Review "One of the most important and prolific voices from South Africa." Library Journal "If you want to get the feeling of South Africa, as strongly as Camus gives you the feeling of Algiers, you will turn to Andre Brink." Tribune "Brink writes feelingly of South Africathe land, the black, the white, the terrible beauty and tragedy that lies therein." Publishers Weekly "Brink is a hard-eyed storyteller." Philadelphia Inquirer
Main Description
Three provocative and interconnected stories from one of the world's greatest living writers: A white painter in Africa comes to his studio in the afternoon. On his doorstep, he sees a woman with curly hair and a dark complexion. He has never seen her before, but she embraces him. As he steps past her, two strange children rush to his feet yelling "Daddy!" This family welcomes him home, but he knows none of them. On the other side of Cape Town, a white man pulls himself out of bed and toward his mirror, where he is confronted by his suddenly black face. A concert pianist falls passionately in love with the celebrated singer he works beside, but cannot bring himself to touch her, until one night they sit down to eat dinner, and look up to see themselves surrounded by armed men. This stunning new novel is Brink at his best. "One of the most important and prolific voices from South Africa over several decades." -Library Journal "South African novelist Brink is a master stylist." -Publishers Weekly "If you want to get the feeling of South Africa, as strongly as Camus gives you the feeling of Algiers, you will turn to André Brink." -Tribune "Brink describes calamities and absurdities of the apartheid system with a cold lucidity that in no way interferes with high emotion and daring flights of the imagination." -Mario Vargas Llosa, New York Times Book Review

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