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Mafeking Road

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About the Author

Herman Charles Bosman (1905-1951), a household name in South Africa, was born near Cape Town but lived most of his life in the Transvaal. He spent the first six months of 1926 as a teacher at a farm school in the Marico District of what was then the Western Transvaal. His term was cut short when, on a vacation back at his family home in Johannesburg, he shot and killed his step-brother. He spent four years on death row in Pretoria Central Prison before his sentence was commuted. Upon his release in 1930, he took up a career as a journalist and began his celebrated Oom Schalk stories, which culminated in the publication of Mafeking Road in 1947. His first novel, Jacaranda in the Night, appeared the same year while his prison memoir, Cold Stone Jug, was published two years later. Bosman died of heart failure in October 1951. He has come to be widely considered South Africa's greatest short story writer.


The pacing and perspective of Bosman's tales . . . are unlike anything else in English. The closest comparison may be Robert Frost poems or Bob Dylan songs. --Publishers Weekly

Herman Charles Bosman's prose is easy as breathing and light as breath itself, perfectly suited for capturing those small, precious, otherwise fleeting moments in which gathered hope, colliding with given fact, defines, in a series of small steps, how we come to look upon life. --Lee Stringer A subtle and simple treatment of deep reflections. . . . A classic set of stories, deserving of world attention to match the attention it already receives in Bosman's home country. --David Lahti Read these stories for the O. Henry-style socko punchlines, for their atmosphere, for the history, read them simply because they're wonderful, entertaining and humane stories where to weep is to laugh, read them because they make a mostly forgotten world live, but read them. These stories are beautiful fruit from a difficult, problematic, worn and wise, humorous and tragic landscape. --Catherine Bohne

The stories in Mafeking Road move between comedy and tragedy, often several times within the same story, and they detail loves lost, or lovers lost, or tragicomic encounters with the British, or family dramas, but each of the stories is masterfully executed and wonderfully written, and achieves its effects almost magically. --E.J. Van Lanen

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