When done well, historical fiction not only transports readers to a different time and place, it also serves to inform and educate in a captivating way. By such a measure, Philida
is done very
well indeed. Part historical truth, part creative fiction, Philida
was deservedly longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. With nuanced prose, the prolific South African author André Brink, brings to life a shameful time in our world's history, the history of slavery in South Africa. The impetus for this novel came from Brink's own family's connection to slavery and to the real Philida. Careful and detailed research resulted in this occasionally horrific, yet ultimately, hopeful, story of slavery set in the Cape region of South Africa in the early 1830s.
The story starts boldly: "Here come shit." As the book opens, Philida, a slave woman, has made a long...
Beyond the Book
Afrikaans words or expressions are peppered throughout André Brink's novel, Philida
. Brink started his career writing in Afrikaans, his native language, but switched to writing in English interspersed with Afrikaans which he uses to help maintain the authenticity of his characters. Many of the words can be puzzled out from the context of their use but some are a bit more of a challenge.
Afrikaans originated in the 17th century as Dutch settlers moved into South Africa. The language is rooted in...