HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the… (1998)

by Antjie Krog

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
465743,815 (4.26)37
Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country--one of spectacular beauty and promise--come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors? To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha's extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey. Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission's work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog's powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog's profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 37 mentions

English (5)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 5 of 5
2.5 stars

Shortly after Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee was formed to listen to victims and perpetrators of apartheid. If perpetrators applied for and came clean, they would be given amnesty.

I didn't like the writing style. The author is putting a lot of herself into it, and I'm not interested in her. The stories are very short and it wasn't enough to keep me interested most of the time. There is also a lot more about the Truth and Reconciliation Committee itself and how the hearings are proceeding, how it works, etc – more than I'm interested in. I ended up reading it quite quickly because I skimmed so much of it, because it wasn't holding my interest. Some stories did hold my interest, but not nearly as many as I'd hoped. I did find it interesting that Nelson Mandela's ex-wife had a group of bodyguards (young boys) who terrorized and tortured people. Overall, though it's a topic that should be more interesting (and apparently it is to other people, just not to me, based on other reviews). ( )
  LibraryCin | Nov 17, 2013 |
Country of My Skull is an astonishing book. Krog's attempt to embrace, explicate, and bear witness to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is complicated, creative, flawed, distressing, inspiring. A supremely human book that doesn't resile from its truths, emotional and otherwise.

Krog is a radio journalist assigned to cover the 'make-or-break' Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the larval, apartheid-free South African state. But she is also a poet, an Afrikaner, a left-wing journalist, a woman, and more. As a microcosm of South African society passes through the commission, which lens will she view them with? How can one do justice to these people? - a question no less pressing for Krog than the Commission itself.

The answer to both questions varies a lot. Some parts of Country of My Skull are simply transcripts of the testimonies, followed by Krog's analysis or reaction. Others are hypothetical conversations with different facets of the South Africans she engages with about the Commission. Others still are internal monologues or prose poems. The tone overall is troubled, vulnerable, and also afraid of what the failure of the Commission might mean.

I really admired Krog's willingness to think about her own emotions, reactions and ultimately culpability as a white South African. This is not a book that shies away from much, and I feel like it really captures the confusion, incomprehension, and in some ways insanity, that apartheid engendered and has gifted the country with.

It doesn't have any easy answers - the answers it provides are woefully inadequate for everyone. There's no real arc or narrative, and it's hard to say whether the book ends on a high note or not - there's an inescapable sense of fragility throughout that undermines any idea of closure. Country of My Skull is a big book, and it's demanding, emotionally and mentally.

But this is perhaps the best way - the only way? - to write about the enormity of Apartheid, what it wrought and what that means in the "new" South Africa. Highly recommended. ( )
2 vote patrickgarson | Nov 21, 2012 |
"...This is an astounding work of nonfiction. Antjie is one of South Africa’s most important Afrikaans poets. This was her first full book-length work of English prose. She worked as a journalist for the South African Broadcasting Corporation at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and she went around the country listening to testimony of victims of apartheid and families of people who had been killed by the apartheid security police. And this book is critical for an understanding of South Africa.



She takes you into the raw emotion that exists in South African to this day. And in terms of the emotional aspect, in terms of the feelings, the blood, the open wounds, the heartache and hope and hopelessness she expresses, she does it better than anyone else. She does pepper the book with her own reasons for staying committed to South Africa..." (reviewed by Kevin Bloom in FiveBooks).


The full interview is available here: http://fivebooks.com/interviews/kevin-bloom-on-post-apartheid-identity
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  FiveBooks | Jun 7, 2010 |
  HealeyLibrary | Oct 4, 2007 |
A must read for anyone who wants to grasp the true depth of the complexity of the relationships that exist between peoples of South Africa in the aftermath of Apartheid. ( )
  valkyrieh116 | Jul 27, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Antjie Krogprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dis, Adriaan vanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman, RobbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eeden, Ed vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For every victim who had an Afrikaner surname on her lips
First words
Sunk low on their springs, three weathered white Sierras roar past the wrought-iron gates of Parliament.
Quotations
To seize the surge of language by its soft, bare skull. Beloved, do not die. Do not dare die! I, the survivor, wrap you in words so that the future inherits you. I snatch you from the death of forgetfulness.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country--one of spectacular beauty and promise--come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors? To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha's extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey. Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission's work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog's powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog's profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.26)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 5
2.5 2
3 2
3.5 2
4 18
4.5 2
5 36

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 171,945,587 books! | Top bar: Always visible