Sunday 19 April 2020

#BlogTour You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr, and it's also the last day of the tour.

About the Author
Damian Barr is an award-winning writer and columnist. Maggie & Me, his memoir about coming of age and coming out in Thatcher's Britain, was a BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’, Sunday Times ‘Memoir of the Year’ and won the Paddy Power Political Books 'Satire' Award and Stonewall Writer of the Year Award. Damian writes columns for the Big Issue and High Life and often appears on BBC Radio 4. He is creator and host of his own Literary Salon that premieres work from established and emerging writers. You Will Be Safe Here is his debut novel. Damian Barr lives in Brighton.

Follow @damian_barr on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit damianbarr.comBuy You Will Be Safe Here

About the book
A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers - a century apart - must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.

Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.
 Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he’s turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they ‘make men out of boys.’ Guaranteed.

The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.

The common thread between the two stories are mothers and what they are willing to do to help their sons survive. Sometimes those decisions are wrong and sometimes you have do the last thing you expected to save them. And as a child you believe your mother is making the right choice for you. From a mother trying to save her starving child in a war torn South Africa or a mother wanting to make 'a man' out of her son.

Did British colonisation lay the groundwork for apartheid in South Africa? A question often posed, especially whilst discussing the history and repercussions of white men on that particular continent. It's easy to forget that the Cape Colony was under the rule of the Dutch before falling to the British Crown - then Dutch and then British again, which should explain a lot of the conflict between the Boers and the British Crown.

The systemic racism already existed between the white South Africans and the indigenous Africans. The Dutch took their land, established a servant master system, which was powered by eugenic beliefs and religious sanctimony.

It's easier to understand why many of the downtrodden chose to help the British during the Boer war and why the Boers consider any hands-upper a traitor. Simultaneously there is a lack of documentation or photographic evidence to show the atrocities and number of victims when it comes to black concentration camps the British set up. Conveniently the atrocities against the white Boers is documented well enough to teach further generations the same systemic racism and hatred, instead of teaching them not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

It's a fascinating combination of historical and political fiction based on facts.

Barr takes an often forgotten period in history and uses it as a tool to inform and entertain. It's an engrossing read, which brings many questions to the surface. The tidal wave of destruction left in the wake of oppression, war and disastrous war tactics.

Willem's story is actually worthy of a book by itself and so is the Boer refugee or containment camp story. Together the two give an overall glimpse of a destructive and neglectful family pattern passed on from generation to generation.

Buy You Will Be Safe Here at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; pub date 4 April 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

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