le 24 août 2004
Laurence Waters is working in a rundown hospital in the capital of what used to be one of the homelands of South Africa. These areas of land are impoverished and underdeveloped, set aside by the apartheid government for the self determination of its various black nations. As Frank Eloff joins the staff of five for a one year training, he soon discovers that there is virtually no activity at the hospital. Most of the people living in the abandoned town - built once by what Laurence terms as "a puppet dictator" - aren't even aware of the presence of the facility! The equipment is so flimsy that most cases have to be referred to a hospital in a town an hour away.
Nevertheless, Mr Galgut masterfully describes the relationships between the staff members, at times showing harmony, at times tension and discord. Laurence's thoughts are busy with his failed marriage, with his father resenting him for being what one may call a loser - he ironically talks about "such wonderful work you do up there amongst the rural blacks" - or with his memories of the two years he spent in the army.
An altogether impressive read, atmospheric with the heavy heat of South Africa, its political and racial issues and the permanent threat of violence which many authors associate with their country in their novels - J.M. Coetzee, André Brink, Nadine Gordimer or Doris Lessing to name but a few.