Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933. He was educated at Michaelhouse and Rhodes University. He became a full-time writer in 1964 after the successful publication of When The Lion Feeds, and has since written nearly 30 novels, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. His books are now translated into 26 languages.
In this latest epic, popular novelist Smith (The Leopard Hunts in Darkness) takes on a difficult challenge, telling of post-World War II South Africa. What he has created is a hybrid. His narrative seriously addresses the conflicts of whites and blacks, the differences between British and Afrikaners, and the tribes and personalities vying for control of the African National Congress. But it's also a soap opera, one of those conventional generational sagas with a contrived forbidden love affair between a white and a black, adultery and the rivalry between two men who do not realize they are half-brothers. The combination is simultaneously thrilling and embarrassing. Shasa Courtney is a wealthy United Party minister to the South African Parliament. A moderate of English heritage, he is often opposed to the Nationalist Party's Manfred De La Rey, an Afrikaner. Their mother, the matriarchal Centaine Courtney-Malcomess, is able to mediate their conflicts but not to control Shasa's wife, Tara, who sympathizes with the black cause. It is Tara who falls in love with the black Moses Gama, an advocate of violent opposition to apartheid. All their stories intermingle with the history of South Africa in the '50s and '60s. Smith's account of some of the worst racial riots is terrifying and his storytelling powers are strong, but readers of Rage will likely come away wondering whether turgid sub-plots really enhance a novel about one of the world's most troubled countries. (October 7)
Smith continues the family saga set in South Africa which he began in The Burning Shore and The Power of the Sword. This new novel focuses on the half brothers, Shasa Courtney and Manfred De La Rey, now high officials in the Nationalist government. During the mounting protest and violence brought on by apartheid in the 1950s and early 1960s, these former enemies find themselves working together to save the land they both love. Other family members are involved too. Michael, one of Shasa's sons, becomes a reporter who opposes apartheid, while Lothar, Manfred's son, is a policeman who enforces it. The interlocking stories of these and many others, set against the authentic African historical and cultural background that Smith so effectively provides, produces both a compelling tale and some real insights into South Africa. Recommended. Judith Nixon, Purdue Univ. Lib., W. Lafayette, Ind.