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by Pierre van Rooyen (Jacana, R150)
“Saturdays are Gold” was nominated for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize last year, and it has some undoubted strengths.
It is an excellent evocation of white working class life in Johannesburg in the 1940s and an endearing portrayal of the relationship between a psychic seven-year-old girl and her protective nine-year-old brother.
In spite of this, I found the book disappointing as the strong story line is attenuated by tedious sections that contribute little to plot or characterisation. Examples are the mariner’s excursus on rounding Cape Horn and the excessively detailed description of initiation in the school hostel.
In my opinion, it is also true of the minor characters that tighter control would have produced a better book. – John Boje