Suiderkruis (ePub) | General Fiction
Winner of the debut category of the Sanlam/Insig Groot Romanwedstryd (2007)
Three young people in a cramped Johannesburg flat. They are surrounded by high-rise buildings and mine dumps. The city is noisy. Factories spew fire. But the three remain untouched by the energy of money and power, by signboards that entice, by lights that wink. Why are they so bewildered? What is behind Dawid’s morbid silence, Hennie’s nightmares and Lydia’s desperate love?
In his novel, winner of the debut prize in Sanlam and Insig’s Big Novel Competition, Morné Malan follows the trail of these questions. Bit by bit he reveals that a Southern Cross windmill rises above the high-rise buildings, that a Free State plain, larger and more compelling than the city, stretches out in the hearts of these three young people.
The story of their urban malaise begins to unfold when their mother, Magriet, knocks on the door of the flat after nine years. Magriet has tracked down her children, and the story of their estrangement can at last be told. Speaking in turns, they tell their story: Magriet, Dawid, Hennie and Lydia.
It is an age-old story of inherited pain and guilt which is given a virtuoso new relevance by Malan. What happened to place an indelible groaning windmill in each one’s mind? What was the enigmatic Magriet fighting so hard that she drove her own children away from her? Why did Dawid and Hennie flee from the power of their mother who for years had propped them up against their father’s assaults? What is it that connects Lydia to Dawid while his entire being yearns back to a dark hole in his past?
Each of the involved parties has a turn to speak. Each tries to explain. Each tries to understand. And so the story of Magriet’s resistance to small-town prejudice and her violent husband emerges. Also the story of Dawid’s desperate resistance to his father. The story of their father’s violent death. The court case that followed. But the challenge to each one’s understanding, insight and humanity is why the resistance to patriarchy turned into a fight against the mother. And why the yearning back to a dark past has remained so acute.
Malan shows how the yearning back to mother earth and the earliest impulses remains a compelling reality even in the current era. And he shows how this yearning for a lost paradise is a desire for death. His characters are modern, the space reverberates with the sounds of a modern urban existence. But underlying everything there is an age-old sadness. The power of Malan’s prose lies in his ability to show convincingly how man’s newest pursuits still battle the earliest remnants of human evolution.