When Michiel Steyn returns to the family farmstead in South Africa for his mother's funeral, he has spent close to half his lifetime abroad.
But even after fifteen years' absence, neither Michiel nor those he left behind have truly come to terms with his terrible flight from the farm they called Paradise. As Michiel submits himself to the rituals of mourning and remembrance in the small town and on the land where he became a man, all that has lain undisturbed for years is brought to light.
A father's implacable fury and a brother's violent death, the loss of a child, the betrayal of love and the ugly memory of the dying days of apartheid all come between the prodigal and forgiveness.
Michiel finds that he must confront not only his grief for his mother's passing but the painful truth of his own transgressions.
Elegiac and chilling, poignant and profoundly thoughtful, Kings of the Water is at once a lament both personal and political, and a meditation on the potency of reconciliation.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 30/10/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780349113708
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Review by presto
Now thirty five, Michiel Steyn returns to his home and farm in South Africa after an absence of fifteen years, the occasion his mother's funeral. His sudden departure while still a conscript was surrounded in mystery and disgrace, and all but rejection by his father. Now he must face his father for the first time since then, his brother and those he loved, and those who perhaps failed him him when as a young man he sought their help.The account spans just the two days in September 2001, but as the events of those tow days unfold we slowly learn about Michiel, the male lover Kamil he lives with in California, the girl he was involved with before is ignominious departure from South Africa and the circumstances and cause of his leaving, the older brother whom he idolised and who died and the secrets surrounding his death, the horrors of apartheid and its lingering effects even now that so disgust him, and the difficult attempts at reconciliation with his father and others he deserted.Kings of the Water is an intriguing, gripping and moving story that reveals much of the Afrikaners' attitude and gives an insight to life in South Africa during and since apartheid. It is beautifully written and constantly swings seamlessly from present to past, from South Africa to California, creating a unique mood of melancholy, and along the way delves deep into the minds and thinking of the diverse characters. King of the waters is a worthy successor to Behrs' previous fine novels, and worth the delayed wait.