Imprisoned for life in the
Robben Island prison colony, Sila talks in her mind with her dead son, Baro,
and later with a whole host of spirits from her past. She remembers her
love and desperate grief for Baro, and for her other children mostly lost to
her: Carolina, Camies, Pieter, another boy "who came and went too quietly for a
name", Meisie, Catherina and Debora - all the result of rape either by her
former owner or by prison guards, but intensely loved nonetheless.
Through her lyrical, rambling voice that reveals her mental state to be closer
to madness than sanity we slowly learn of her life, from when she was stolen as
a small child by slavers in Mozambique, through her ownership by a variety of
masters, to the ultimate irony of her present life as a freed slave (slavery
having been abolished) condemned to life imprisonment.
Beyond the Book
was born in South Africa under apartheid and emigrated
with her family via Swaziland to Australia at the age of eighteen. She now
teaches African American literature and post colonial studies at Fordham
is her first novel, following a collection of
, published in 1999.
Modern Day Slavery - did you know?
According to the
US State Department, slavery is now the third largest type of illegal trade
in the world (after drugs and weapons); every year between 600,000 and 800,000
people are trafficked across national borders with about 17,500 entering the
USA. Many advocacy sources put the figures much higher, for example some say that about 1 million children in...