I stopped writing the truth


I stopped writing the truth

EBEN VENTER leaves the facts to nonfiction writers these days. He tells us about his latest novel, which will be launched soon.

I INCLUDED a risky scene in my debut novel, Foxtrot van die Vleiseters. A white farm boy, Peter, takes one of the black farmworkers' daughter, Buziwe, to the hot springs in Aliwal North. It's 1986, the year of the state of emergency, and the Apartheid State intervenes for the last time, trying to stem its rapid decline.

Arriving at the springs, I, or rather, Peter, and Buziwe crawl through a secret hole under the boundary wire, probably dug by the last aardvark  in the northeastern Cape. We're inside. We get rid of our clothes behind oleander shrubs and get into our swimsuits. And then, like twin dolphins from the same school, the white and the black body frolic in the sulphur water: “We sprint back to the warmer round bath again and I show her how to stand wide-legged so I can swim deftly between her thighs. She laughs out loud and spits a mouthful of sulphur water into my face."

What is going on here? The baths and grounds with its manicured lawns and red and yellow canna flowers are for Whites Only. Swimming and frolicking by white and black together are prohibited, a kind of apostasy that will be visited to your descendants well into the third and fourth generations...

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