I ask about JM Coetzee, whose decision to leave South Africa for Australia is said to have caused resentment in some quarters. Brink worked with him for years at the University of Cape Town, "and learned a hell of a lot from him. I always admire writers who can pare everything down to the essential; it's totally the opposite of what I do, and we were so different that I could very deeply respect what he was doing without feeling that I had to compete with him. Anybody can understand why somebody might reach a point when they just want to move out. And after he published Disgrace, there was such a violent reaction against him, especially from within the ANC, that I can't blame him for deciding that he'd bloody well had enough. Although, on a very personal level," he adds with a look of exaggerated innocence, "I can't understand why anybody would want to go to Australia."
- Read the interview here.
And in today's Sunday Times UK, a revealing excerpt from a new book about Nelson Mandela details the warring within his family, and the toll of the struggle on all their lives. I read some lines there squirming a little, thinking: why would this offspring tell the world that the Madiba's no longer altogether there?
Once Zindzi accepted that her parents could not be reconciled, it became easier for her to welcome Mandela’s third life partner, Mama Graca — Graca Machel — into their family.
Graca made it clear to Zindzi the first time they met that she would never occupy Winnie’s place in her father’s heart. That was something everyone is agreed on, even now — that Winnie was the great love of his life. But the new relationship at least provided some members of the family with a stable emotional base. Graca was warm and affectionate, Zindzi said, while her father, though loving, was physically undemonstrative.