by Ivan Vladislavic (Random House Struik)
In middle class suburbia, a vacant plot of land becomes occupied by a strange squatter – in fact he owns the property and his presence upsets the conservative neighbours who are not sure why this eccentric property owner would set up camp on a bare patch of ground.
This book was first released in the early 1990s. The author is an acclaimed editor and writer who writes on subjects uniquely South African. He has also received many prizes for his writing. This first novel – though slightly outdated – is still a relevant comment of South Africa’s past.
The book tells the tale of the developing relationship between the eccentric home builder Mr Nieuwenhuizen and the conservative Mr and Mrs Malgas who live next door. The way these people become entangled in the building of the house – the folly – is intriguing.
Vladislavic has the knack of revealing people’s personalities and idiosyncrasies in an understated manner. Mrs Malgas a person of conservative principles is disturbed at the neighbour’s unannounced arrival and watches as he sets up camp – peeping through the curtains. Folly ensues.