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Three Citizen Quickie Carrots

Thin BluePlaying the EnemyTrenchermanThree shortie reviews from The Citizen‘s reviewers bring in three carrots – bam, bam, bam, just like that – for three of the year’s more notable books.

Gaynore Noyce describes award-winning writer Jonny Steinberg’s fifth book, Thin Blue, as “a compelling read” that explores the shaky relationship between law enforcers and those who essentially refuse to be policed. Steinberg is going to need a large wagon for his donkey to cart off all the carrots he has been receiving for this book:

Having spent over 350 hours embedded in the back of police vans, Steinberg delves way below the surface to narrate a drama which plays out in South Africa on a daily basis.

His argument is the public will only be policed as long as it allows it. He likens this relationship to theatre in his analysis, while his observant keen storytelling ability is honed to back it up.

David Jenkin’s carrot goes to John Carlin’s Playing the Enemy, which he describes as, “A thought-provoking and enjoyable read”:

The culmination of his efforts was with the rugby World Cup of 1995, and how he used SA’s victory to find himself a place in the hearts of white South Africans, as he had done with black South Africans.

This takes up most of the book’s focus as it gets to grips with just how significant this event was.

It explains the reasons for his success through amusing anecdotes and includes interviews from people in politics, and those who knew a more personal side of the man, such as his bodyguards.

The last carrot in this threesome is from Bruce Dennill for Trencherman by Eben Venter.

His view is that the book blurb that compares this book to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness doesn’t do it proper justice. “It’s clearly an intentional parallel,” writes Dennill, “and one that adds power to an already rather arresting storyline, which now carries the pathos of two such journeys”:

Venter’s vision of a SA gone way off the rails is believable, especially given that the author, like his main character, has been a resident of Australia for some years.

The pacing is uneven, though, with Marlouw’s journey from Down Under to his old family farm being dealt with in short order before the arduous period he must endure before getting to see Koert and state his case.

It’s thought-provoking stuff, though – source material for some intense introspection if any aspects of Marlouw’s or Koert’s characters mirror yours.

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