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`Buckingham Palace', District six


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By all accounts, District Six was a filthy slum at the foot of Table Mountain, which overlooks Cape Town, South Africa. But to the ``coloured'' people who lived there, it was an oasis of community spirit and boisterous fun until it was declared a ``white area'' in 1966 under provisions of the Group Acts Law and bull-dozed to the ground. In this vivacious novel centering on five moldy cottages affectionately called Buckingham Palace, Rive, an eminent South African writer, captures the soul of District Six and the tenacious grit of its bizarre inhabitants. The story flies through three decades in the lives of Zoot, Pretty-Boy, Mary of the Casbah, Mr. Knight-Before-Last, the Jungle Boys and their Jewish landlord Katzen. Rive brilliantly intensifies their tragedy by homing in on their humorous humanity rather than on their eventual dispersal at the hands of an arrogant government. (July)

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