You Will Be Safe Here (Hardback)Damian Barr (author)
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The author of the sharp and brilliant memoir, Maggie and Me, triumphs with a hard-hitting debut novel, juxtaposing two stories of incarceration and prejudice set over a century apart in South Africa. Barr is unflinching in his portrayal of British colonial brutality and its bitter legacy in apartheid and his descriptions are visceral, vivid and convincing. A powerful and deeply resonant read.
1901, the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp where, the English promise: they will be safe. Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog. Worried he's not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp. Here they 'make men out of boys'. Guaranteed.
You Will Be Safe Here is a deeply moving novel of connected parts. Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 486 g
Dimensions: 216 x 135 mm
'Completely gripping and profoundly moving - you care for every character. Each of the very different stories is deeply affecting and they're woven together in such unexpected and powerful ways. Barr handles the most difficult material with the lightest touch.' - Maggie O'Farrell
'A gripping, heartbreaking tale of uncomfortable histories and the resilience of love.' - Graham Norton
'Brutal, haunting, redemptive and with not an ounce of fat left on it. Beautiful.' - Jojo Moyes
'Epic... Immersive, moving, horrifying and beautiful. You will LOVE it.' - Marian Keyes
'This would be an achievement for a third or fourth novel; for a first, it's an astonishing one. Barr's handling of his bravely chosen material - the conjoined shames of British and Afrikaaner history - is deft and the results will haunt you.' - Patrick Gale
'Devastating and formally ingenious, it traces the paths by which historical grief engenders present violence ... A vitally brave and luminously compassionate book.' - Gareth Greenwell
'It's rare for a novel to go so deep that you come out of reading it a different person from when you went in. Damian Barr's investigation of a part of South Africa's history the British have been trying to forget for many many years is such a book. It was a very brave book to write, and parts of it call for some courage to read, but nothing more unusual and impressive has appeared for years.' - Diana Athill
'Damian Barr has written a novel concerned with single strain of human history, of how a people are made and unmade and how they go on to make and unmake others, of the stories they tell themselves to allow such things to pass. In so doing he has captured the threads of all of human history. You Will Be Safe Here is as unexpected as it is unsettling, both in the telling and in the way that telling works to reveal hidden trails through the points of light and darkness, such that the reader arrives at the end to stand before a view over one hundred years in the making and says, I see it now.' - Aminatta Forna
'You Will Be Safe Here is eviscerating in its rendering of violence and masculinity in South Africa [and] exquisite in its depiction of suffering and love. You will see the world differently after reading this - it speaks so eloquently and compassionately against a world defined by dominance and brute force and the blind repetition of history. It brought me to tears - the beauty of the language, Barr's tenderness with his characters, and the horror that is done in the name of power.' - Margie Orford
'[Barr] has achieved something remarkable - a powerfully moving tale that weaves dazzlingly between the Boer war and contemporary South Africa.' - Picks for 2019, Observer
'Few writers can wind you with a word. But Damian Barr doesn't just do that, he tickles and then floors you, delights only to devastate, within a single phrase.' - Patrick Strudwick
'Damian Barr splits open lost history, sunlit moments of love and all private grief with this novel, a chisel at one end and a telescope at the other. Insightful and compassionate, open-hearted and unblinking, Barr gives us three unforgettable stories in this powerful, groundbreaking book.' - Amy Bloom
'Wonderful. I finished the book in tears ... [Barr] writes beautifully, emotively and yet cleanly, without pressing any point so hard that it becomes polemic instead of truth.' - Jessica Fellowes
'Sweeping yet intimate, heart-breaking yet often very funny... This book confirms Barr as one of our most brilliant and big-hearted writers.' - Alex Preston
'Brave, compassionate and beautifully written.' - Fanny Blake
'Funny, tender, and heartbreaking ... A gifted storyteller.' - Indendent on Sunday
'Barr has a keen eye for wincingly evocative detail ... Lyrical.' - New Statesman
'Barr's writing has a lightness of touch and warm humour which makes it easy to root for him ... His life has become a triumph.' - Observer
'A devastating novel about the destruction of childhood which visits a little known part of South Africa's recent shameful history ... Damian writes beautifully and wears his research lightly, in this most affecting of novels.' - Kirsty Wark
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