The Texture of Shadows
It is 1989, a high point of hope in South Africa’s political history. The nation is abuzz with rumours of Nelson Mandela’s imminent release, the dismantling of guerrilla camps and the possibility of peace.
A band of exiled People’s Army soldiers returns to South Africa. After years in Angola they think the change they have been fighting for is finally about to become a reality. They have been ordered to carry and deliver a sealed trunk to an unspecified destination. It is a mission that makes them a target as different parties set out to separate the men from the trunk and its mysterious contents, setting the stage for several fierce conflicts.
The Texture of Shadows explores a world of hardened guerrilla fighters, corrupt police officers, ex-political prisoners and the victims of abuse of a system of bannings and beatings. But there are also cracks in this steel-edged world that hope, love and beauty can fill as the reader is swept up in the story of Chaplain Nerissa Rodrigues and her fellow soldiers.
“The Texture of Shadows is an astonishingly brave book. It strips the South African freedom struggle of the usual sentimental pieties and pares it down to bare essentials: love, lies and lost illusions.” – Christopher Hope, author of Shooting Angels, Kruger’s Alp and White Boy Running.
The Lost Colours of the Chameleon is set on the fictitious island of Bangula in the Indian Ocean – an island populated by an indigenous community that coexists uneasily with Creoles, mainly descendants of ancient Portuguese colonizers. The half-a-million inhabitants live under the twin shadows of an impending cyclone and an outbreak of the blood plague.
The novel follows the story of the Colonel Gondo, a patriarch who is the father of the newly reformed nation of Bangula, and the biological father of three sons (one legitimate and two illegitimate). Following their father’s death, the Colonel’s three sons become embroiled in a bitter succession struggle. Abioseh succeeds the Colonel, but has to contend with the Colonel’s love-child, a boy called Zebulon. Zebulon grows up embittered and poverty-stricken, with an aim of avenging his mother, Madu, who died of official neglect.
Zebulon, Abioseh’s half-brother, is popular among the people for the simple reason that he has made it his life’s mission to comfort the bereaved, even strangers. Abioseh also has to contend with the Colonel’s third son, Hieronymus Jerome, his childhood friend, who rises in the police ranks and becomes his head of security. However, Hieronymus also has ambitions of power – not so much to wield it conspicuously as to control the wielders of power, an eminence grise – who liaises with an undertaker to topple Abioseh and install Zebulon as leader of the island.
This struggle for power is fuelled by the varying and personal motives of the Colonel’s three sons, and reveals the fundamental divisions tearing apart the fragile nation.