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The Castaways

I must confess that I bought this short novel primarily out of curiosity to read something by the wife of Athol Fugard, South Africa’s best-known playwright. The Castaways is more than able to stand on its own merit, however.

The story revolves around a shipwreck on the South-East coast of South Africa in the eighteenth century, and the trials and tribulations of the survivors as they attempt to make their way back to “civilisation”, that is to say the Cape Colony.

The true value of the book, however, lies in its narrator. The tale is told, in fits and bursts, through the introspection of a mentally-troubled youth who has, inexplicably, found himself burdened with the memories of the castaways.

The narrator’s voice is truly fascinating, and provides the reader a perspective into a disturbed mind that is, nevertheless, very rational and intelligent within its specific limitations.

This must be one of the most unusual books I have ever read, and is well worth the experience.

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