In the Fog of Seasons’ End – Alex La Guma

Hey guys, welcome back! Well… assuming this isn’t the first of my posts your reading. Anyway, new reader old reader, you’re in for an interesting challenge. Reading through my first ever book review FROM TOP – TO BOTTOM. Awesome right!

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Yes. You absolutely do.

Before I get into it, what the heck is a book review? More than just a first for the blog, it’s pretty much a first in life. I’ve always been a solitary reader. I find a book, I read it, I put it away. If it’s good, I might come back to it. I don’t feel the need to go out onto the nearest street and declare the sacrosanct or downright awful nature of any book. In fact, the last time someone asked me to tell them about a book was in 6th Grade. Everyone had to write a reading log and trust me, even those I didn’t do well – if I gave them in. But I have to admit, sometimes a book is just too good to keep to yourself.

This book review may be a first, but I want to do it well. So I took a quick tour around the internet to see what other blogger-book reviewers do. And I’m glad to say I found some interesting ideas in a couple of interesting blogs. But to spare you the details, here’s a quick run-down with the links:

  • books I done read: this one gives a shallow look at the books read, but definitely a blogger with my kind of humor.
  • Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?: here you can get nice mix of a clear overview of the book’s story line and the blogger’s personal opinion. The blogger also gives a lot of detail about the book itself – author (duh), publisher, genre, all that.
  • Whimpulsive: a lot like Hey Lady, but with less detail. It has an interesting touch of adding the book’s blurb and a simple rating system.

I think I’d like my book reviews to have a good blend of what I’ve found. Just one thing, these really helped but, I need to be honest here… There’s this nagging fact that they all seem to be written by women (awkward….).

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On the real though, was I on the wrong side of the internet?

Title: In the Fog of the Seasons’ End
Author: Alex La Guma
Genre: Literature, Fiction, Historical, Cultural Africa
Pages: 181

The Publisher:
Inside South Africa’s police regime… ‘From the front of the Police Station, from the turret of the armored car, the shiny brass cylinders of spent ammunition leaped and cascaded…’
‘In the open field, the dusty alleyways where they had tried to flee, the dead and dying now lay…’
From behind the news headlines about South Africa, from behind the colorful advertisements of the tour operators comes this story of those people who risk their lives daily in the underground movement against apartheid. This novel is purposely low-key. This is what happens every day. This is the grind of political organisation. This is the day by day work of dedicated people. Only at moments of crisis are their dying bodies flashed up on the television screens. But they are always risking tortured death out of sight at the hands of the Security Police. In the Fog of the Seasons’ End is the story of Beukes-lonely, hunted, determined-working for an illegal organisation and of Elias Tekwane, captured by the South African police and tortured to death in the cells.

My Take:
First off, they are not kidding when they say that this book is ‘low-key’. DAMN it started slow. Like I seriously though about putting it down after the first two chapters. But I gave it a shot for one reason, I like classics, and I like African classics even more. The book is part of the African Writers Series where ALL the good stuff is. I’m talking Chinua Achebe, Okot P’Bitek AND all they friends! Even Jomo Kenyatta made the cut, 254 represent! And no surprise, Nelson Mandela‘s No Easy Walk to Freedom.

Dragging on further into the book I started to understand exactly why it was low-key. Like the blurb says, this is THE GRIND. The underground movement in the Apartheid era was like a cold civil-war. The book focuses on a point in history where the Apartheid government suppressed all public demonstrations by anyone… not white. Everything that mattered happened underground. The rebels, the messengers, the informants (damn snitches) and the Security Police tortures.

The main characters, Beukes and Elias Tekwane are two regular pawns in the underground movement and live a life of “mysterious rides, messages left in obscure places, veiled telephone conversations”, your basic underground revolution stuff. At the same time though, life underground is pretty mundane.

SPOILERS! -> The characters only are interestingly contrasted throughout the book but even though they only meet once towards the end. Beukes has a wife and child who he is, obviously, constantly worried about in his mess of a life. Elias Tekwane is a bachelor, which I guess is easier with a life on the run. But they also have some similarities – fathers lost at a young age thanks to the cruel system. It was also curious that we only get Elias Tekwane’s full back story and full name. But Elias dies in end, with a vision of his ancestor’s ghosts waiting for him on some far horizon, so I guess from his perspective, the whole story is some kind of obituary. <- END.

In the end the book only reinforced my love for African classics. The book like most African classics, draws from the injustices of the system imposed on African countries in the colonial era. Only when I reached the end did all the pieces come together and I understood the depth of the book.

My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.6/5


The scale:
0/5 – No good. Didn’t even finish it.
1/5 – I got through it, barely.
2/5 – Okay. Nothing more, nothing less.
3/5 – Great read! But I doubt I’ll go it again.
4/5 – Definitely a favourite! You’ll love it.
5/5 – This book is ON POINT. Go get it. Right now.

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