The Day My Grandfather Was a Hero by Paulus Hochgatterer translated by Jamie Bulloch
The story unfolds more from a series of impressions than plot and, although I found it an easy read, I probably had less idea than Nelli what was going on. There were dead sons and purloined paintings; I assumed the latter stolen from Jewish collections, but I might have been wrong. Okay, but not my kind of book. Thanks to publishers MacLehose Press for my review copy.
Finding Soutbek by Karen Jennings
Pieter, the mayor, has grown up among these destitute people, but now keeps his distance. Like many who have overcome inherent disadvantage, he disdains them as much as the white people (among whom he now lives) do. His ambitions for the town are primarily to improve the prospects of his family; alas, he cannot see that his gentrified son looks down on him, while his wife (whom he rescued from extreme poverty while abandoning her parents and siblings) would rather have love and friendship than yet more rooms added to the house.
So when a girl arrives from elsewhere, Anna, hitherto a misfit, finds a soulmate. Together they begin to read a recently published book, co-authored by Pieter and a retired white historian who built an academic platform on justifying apartheid. Purportedly based on the diaries of a 17th-century Dutch explorer, its aim is not to educate, but to bring kudos – and tourists – to the town. As another character comes to understand, history was not about dates and people. It was about mastery: the mastery of others and the mastery of land (p139).