16. December 2008 · Comments Off on Other Lives by Andre Brink · Categories: Book Reviews, Goldfish Award Books, South African Literature · Tags: ,

Take an accomplished South African writer nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature three times, add a surprising Hitchcock-like plot with a message and stir.  What comes out will be a book you will never, ever forget.  Andre Brink’s Other Lives is one of the most creative novels I’ve read in a long time.  

Three separate stories merge, crisscross, and get you tangled as they weave through the pages.  Imagine a white South African man who, upon entering his studio, suddenly discovers it’s been transformed into a house.  In it are a black woman who calls him her husband and two little children thrilled to see their daddy.  He’s never seen these people before in his life. Or a white man who wakes up, looks in the mirror, and finds he’s no longer white.  Or a famous pianist who is in love with a singer who won’t allow him to get close to her.  Even after tragedy strikes.  You’ll be hanging onto the edge of your seat throughout the novel, pondering, rethinking what you thought you knew about bigotry and racism, no matter what your color.  

Other Lives is a fantastic novel on so many levels.  Don’t let your book club miss this one – it’s ripe with discussion material.  Once you read it, it will be kept on your “favorites” shelf waiting for the time you’ll pick it up and read it again – and you will.  This is a book that would make excellent study material for psychology, sociology, and South African culture courses.  The message refuses to get lost in the story line as Brink has a way of putting you in the characters’ heads. What would you do if you discovered you aren’t at all who you thought you were?  Want to find out?  Read Other Lives.  You won’t be able to end the book without discovering the answer to that question.

No surprises here – this book gets the carp(e) libris reviews Goldfish Award.  Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

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