This novel is a sequel to Chameleon Mountain. Two generations later, Falk Baartman is born in Die Hel. He attends school in Oudtshoorn and represents SWD in the first ever Craven Week. Later he starts a business in Prince Albert for artists and writers.
There, a jealous rival objects to his race classification and writes to the Population Registration Office in Cape Town. Falk receives a letter in a buff envelope that changes his life: it informs him that he has been reclassified Cape Coloured.
This is his story, a common story for millions of South Africans denied full citizenship in the land of their birth, but Falk is not an ordinary man, and his fight for his birthright is both dramatic and heartrending.
It seems appropriate that this book makes its entry into the literary world at a time when South Africans are celebrating 20 years of democracy.
Peter Cleary’s latest offering is as much a documentary on the apartheid era as it is a block-buster novel.
Full of intrigue, passion and indeed the entire range of human emotions, the fictional characters are couched in a context that exposes the reality of the era when racism ruled and laws were made to protect the privileged few and hurt the vast majority.
Cleary’s writing style has become predictable – not in the sense of ‘boring’ or ‘repetitive’, but in terms of a familiar, solid and pleasant consistency, yet always with new dimensions.
Like sunrises and sunsets, always there but never the same special effects.
We know he has done his homework and has taken great pains to be accurate in those sections where fiction intersects with fact.
Cleary is a past-master at giving the reader the feeling that he or she knows the characters, because we know the physical and contextual setting of the narrative.
As someone who grew up in the Eastern Cape, for instance, I was transported back in time at his mention of Port Elizabeth’s scenic Happy Valley and the iconic Red Windmill roadhouse, where we ate many a fine hamburger.
His understanding and vivid description of the unique make-up and hardships of the Cape coloured community are also outstanding
A fair bit of history and a whole lot of sheer, unabridged, roller-coaster action: that’s ‘No Country to Call Their Own’.
Peter Cleary, we salute you. Only a true South African could have written this book.
Dave Savides – Zululand Observer