Where have all the flowers gone?


Where have all the flowers gone?

DEBORAH STEINMAIR has read Johan Vlok Louw's new novel about the absurd brutality of war.

I have often referred here to the Umuzi Trailblazer series which impresses me beyond measure. I know Fourie Botha has left Penguin Random House, and I hope this imprint won't disappear with him. These are exactly the kind of books I like: local, intrusive, awkward, and poetic.

Johan Vlok Louw's short, powerful novel Gap in the Hedge haunted me for a long time.

When I opened his new novel, Sons of Mud, I was immediately discouraged by the subject matter. So much has already been written about the South African Border War. I know it will never be enough; people should continue to write about such outrage, about so much senseless destruction of human lives. And I'm talking specifically about the survivors, like my brothers. The first narrator is an English surfer dude from Durban who believes he has sussed everything out, that he can instantly sum up situations and classify people into types. It soon becomes clear that he's right, the surfer dude named Andrew Howard-Smythe. And that he's probably gay...

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