251pp., paperback, Johannesburg, 2020
British foreign correspondent Andrew Harding's account of the murder of two black farm workers in Parys in the Free State iin 2016, and the trial that followed.
"My aim, from the start, was not to write a current affairs book, or a treatise on race, or land, or poverty or politics. You will find no statistics, or broader analysis of the state of the nation here, and no reportage describing my own experiences and conclusions. Rather, I wanted to write a piece of narrative non-fiction, constructed entirely from the raw material I’ve gathered, enabling all those involved in a painful, tortuous tale to tell it from their own perspectives." Andrew Harding, from his website
“Every so often a book comes very close to defining a nation. In this extraordinary, fast-paced and exquisitely written true story South Africa’s brutal and divided past, its complex present and contested future collide in an explosive narrative of murder, race, class and human cruelty. This is In Cold Blood meets Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. Believe me, Andrew Harding has given us an instant classic. If you want to understand the true, chilling heart of South Africa today then go out and buy this utterly gripping book. You will thank me later. Not since former New York Times editor Joe Lelyveld’s 1980s classic Move Your Shadow has a foreign correspondent written such a searing account of South Africa and its tragedies and hopes. It should be read not just by South Africans but far and wide by those who wish to understand truth and reconciliation, fear and redemption. And those who love a masterful story.” Justice Malala, South African columnist, broadcaster and author of We Have Now Begun Our Descent
“These Are Not Gentle People is a South African tragedy. Page after page, reveals the painful truth, that the sun has set on Mandela’s Rainbown Nation. Dreams and hopes of a better future have been silenced by fear, racial tension and a disengaged political system. The lives of the characters, from the landless and poor blacks, to the white landowners caught in a vortex of fear and oblivion, are a true reflection of South Africa’s unfinished business – building a country that belongs to all. For the people of Parys, that dream is elusive and the contestation for a place under the sun, is fierce, brutal and deadly. A gripping and painful read, told with empathy and nuance, These Are Not Gentle People, is an uncomfortable reminder that the past is not over.” Redi Thlabi, South African broadcaster.
“This is a book of profound importance. Through its pages there runs a deep and sympathetic understanding of a troubled country. A masterpiece.” Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. I Ladies' Detective Agency series
Andrew Harding is a foreign correspondent for BBC News and the author of The Mayor of Mogadishu. He currently lives in Johannesburg.