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THE SHADOW FOLLOWS (article first published : 2006-07-3)

Author / critic Darryl Accone says : ďA subtle allegory that illuminates South Africa past and present, and discloses profound secrets of human nature and the human heart. Lovingly rooted in the South African particular, David Medalieís refulgent novel blossoms into universality though his tapestry or intricate personal and national narratives.Ē

The setting is the highveld. It is August: a time of dust, wind and melancholy. Distracted only for a moment by the unremarkable person in the cinema noisily excavating his popcorn, Deannaís real concern is that she might be HIV positive, having stabbed herself in the thumb after giving an injection to a patient. She hasnít heard from her brother in days and doesnít seem to have a clue that heís busy fighting off a silent obsession with her estranged husband, Richard. Richard, meanwhile, has much on his mind too. He has enlisted the services of a company called Relative Success in an attempt to track down his biological mother who disappeared shortly after giving birth to him in the early evening of Boxing Day in 1964.

In this darkly comic novel, David Medalie has assembled an operatic cast of characters, most of them living in contemporary Johannesburg, whose lives criss-cross as they struggle to find solace and meaning. A bungled kidnapping, a prime ministerís daughter who is mired in depression, an astute businesswoman who has adopted her domestic workerís great-nephew, an opinionated aunt, a farm girl who joins a travelling troupe of actors, a mysterious meeting in a whites-only town, a hominid called Oom Toeka and a radio presenter who is conning her listeners.

Published by Picador, The Shadow Follows is a meticulously observed, deftly woven tale of uncovered origins and secret motivations.




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