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BOOK REVIEW Title The Innocence of Roast Chicken Author Joanne Richards Publisher Headline Place od Publication Pretoria South Africa Date of Publication 1996 Joanne Richards is a writer who lives and works in Johannesburg Her first novel The Innocence of Roast Chicken was published in the UK in November 1996 It became an instant bestseller in South Africa where it topped the bestseller lists for fifteen weeks The Innocence of Roast Chicken is a post-apartheid novel with a strong sense of place and time The story concerns an Afrikaans-English family in the Eastern Cape and their idyllic life on the grandparents farm seen through the eyes of a little girl and the subtle web of relationships which is shattered by a horrifying incident in the mid-Sixties Scenes from the childs blissful early life are juxtaposed with Johannesburg in 1989 when the exiles are returning and the narrator Kate now married to a human rights lawyer stands aside from the general euphoria which is gripping the nation Kate is a white South African with an attitude While her husband Joe is starry-eyed about the unfolding of the new South Africa she relentlessly mocks it In uncovering the mystery of why Kate is as she is the story shifts between two worlds the rural idyll of her grandparents chicken farm in 1966 and Johannesburg in 1989 this book has pace and tension - shot through with the terrible beauty of the South African landscape and the efforts of a child to stave off a gathering evil It is Kates despair both with her marriage and with the national situation which resolutely returns to a brutal incident one Christmas morning when the family were thrust out of their Eden
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