A Mouthful of Glass

by Henk van Woerden

Worth persevering with. I didn't find the central character, Tsafendas, sympathetic but the sadness of his isolation and need to belong worked their way inside me.


He must have felt particularly hopeless during the winter of 1966. Again he went from rented room to rented room, in that flat stretch of the city that lies just below Devil's Peak. He applied for one menial job after another, never with any success. Now and then he went back to the Population Registration Office, to record his change of address, so that he could be informed if his application to change his racial status had been granted. The papers, he was told, had been sent to the Ministry of the Interior in Pretoria, where they were being carefully studied. Continuous headaches and dizziness led him to seek help from a neurologist, but nothing emerged from the examination he went through.
Translated by Dan Jacobsen


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