As a small child in a wintry Bremen Hanna starts dreaming about the other side of silence, the place where the wind comes from and palm trees wave in the sun. She sees her chance to escape from years of abuse in the orphanage and in service by joining one of the shiploads of young women transported in the early years of the twentieth century to ...
As a small child in a wintry Bremen Hanna starts dreaming about the other side of silence, the place where the wind comes from and palm trees wave in the sun. She sees her chance to escape from years of abuse in the orphanage and in service by joining one of the shiploads of young women transported in the early years of the twentieth century to the colony of German South-West Africa to assuage the needs of the male settlers. Atrocious punishment for daring to resist the advances of an army officer lands her in a fantasmagoric refuge in the African desert - 'prison, nunnery, brothel, shithouse, Frauenstein'. When the drunken excesses of a visiting army detachment threaten the young girl Katja who has become her only companion, Hanna revolts. Mounting a ragtag army of female and native victims of colonial brutality, she sets out on an epic march through the desert to take on the might of the German Reich. This apocalyptic journey through the darker regions of the soul will also reveal to her the hidden meanings of suffering, revenge, companionship, love, and compassion.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-04-07 Acclaimed South African novelist Brink (The Rights of Desire; Devil's Valley; etc.) paints a harrowing picture of German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) in his latest novel, focusing on a German initiative to import hundreds of women to Africa for the colonists at the turn of the last century. Hanna X is an orphan who spends her early years in Germany trying to catch on as a domestic with a number of families, only to have the sexual advances of various libidinous husbands ruin her efforts to find a stable situation. Hanna thinks she has escaped the world of male domination when she receives permission to emigrate to South Africa, but her escape backfires. Raped and mutilated by brutal German officer Hauptmann Buhlke, she is taken to a horrific outpost known as the Frauenstein, where the abuse continues. The book's surreal, fragmentary first half, in which the events of Hanna's childhood are interspersed with the harrowing details of her arrival in Africa, is followed by a riveting second half, in which Hanna escapes the Frauenstein and tracks down Buhlke with the help of another abused woman, Katja, and a Herero tribesman, Kahapa, whom the two women rescue from a savage German farmer. The trio quickly become a small vigilante posse as they journey to Windhoek to find Buhlke, and their efforts to turn the tables on the Germans succeed when they murder a small troop of soldiers and then wipe out a larger group at a garrison. The relentless violence occasionally turns Hanna into a one-dimensional character, but the imagery from this haunting novel will stay with readers, as will the frightening allure of all-consuming hatred: "So beautiful. So singular. So utterly pure. So abundantly full of life." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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