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We Are Not Such Things

Best Seller
We Are Not Such Things by Justine van der Leun
Ebook
Jun 28, 2016 | ISBN 9780812994513

Available from:

  • Jun 28, 2016 | ISBN 9780812994513

    Available from:

Product Details

Praise

We Are Not Such Things overturns the conventional narrative of [Amy] Biehl’s murder by trying to establish what actually happened, and by examining its effects, over two decades, on the people involved. In this way, its publication could not be more timely, given how many young black South Africans are now expressing anger at—and betrayal by—the Mandela project. . . . Where [Justine van der Leun’s] book is gripping, explosive even, is in the kind of obsessive forensic investigation—of the clues, and into the soul of society—that is the legacy of highbrow sleuths from Truman Capote to Janet Malcolm. . . . [Van der Leun] can write superbly, and . . . she crafts a close sense of place that rivals the work of Katherine Boo. . . . She is deeply compelling as a sleuth and social observer: The book becomes a page turner. . . . The reader leaves it, as one does any well-wrought mystery, with precisely the author’s own sense that truth resides in the failure to find it.”The New York Times Book Review

“Extraordinary . . . Justine van der Leun’s account of a South African murder is destined to be a classic. . . . Van der Leun stays with the story, all of it, and crafts a narrative both fuller and more intimate than the one the world was told. She takes nothing away from Amy, whose murder was horrific. But she impresses upon the reader that no one life or death is worth more than another. For this, and for writing a masterpiece of reported nonfiction, she deserves our plaudits and our awe.”Newsday

“Engaging . . . part whodunnit and part travelogue . . . a deeply researched and thought-provoking book . . . with some penetrating insights.”The Economist

“[Van der] Leun probes the characterization of [Amy] Biehl as a martyr to the cause of black South African liberation, and examines the murder, the trials, and the afterlives of witnesses, detectives, and the accused. She displays exquisite insights into the inner lives of those involved, the erasure of shameful histories, and the stresses of absolution without accountability.”The New Yorker

“A 1993 killing sheds light on the complexities of modern South Africa.”The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“Unforgettable . . . a gripping narrative that examines the messiness of truth, the illusory nature of reconciliation, [and] the all too often false promise of justice.”The Boston Globe

“Compelling . . . [van der Leun] has a resident’s wry familiarity with the jangling contradictions of a country in which shopping malls sit side by side with shantytowns, while retaining an outsider’s unsentimental perspective on its ongoing racial tensions, and a bracing scepticism about the rhetoric of liberation. [Her] hard-nosed reconstruction of an alternative narrative . . . raises troubling, and still pertinent, questions about the deals that sometimes have to be struck by former enemies when faced with the exigencies of nation-building.”The Guardian 

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