It is 1998. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is trying to make sense of over thirty years of human rights violations. In London, Lally, a white South African emigre, goes to dinner with Pim - a long-forgotten childhood friend - and his latterday English family. For Lally, adult existence has by choice remained transient, uprooted; a life of little consequence estranged from its own origins. But it is becoming clear that history will reach out, even to the inconsequential, and for Lally to seek out the truths of the child she must breach the hermetic safety of adult refuge. Moving between contemporary London and the rural South Africa of twenty years earlier, The Beneficiaries traces both the young woman's search for knowledge and self in a society that disallows individuality and the older woman's journey beyond apathy and disillusionment towards the renewal of vitality and hope. Exploring the shifting relations between memory, forgetting and denial, when the truth comes in many versions, and the inexorability of memory as the most merciless personal truth, The Beneficiaries is ultimately about the possibility of healing, in a nation and a human soul.
- Electronic book text
- 01 Oct 2012
- Penguin Books (SA) (Pty) Ltd
- The Penguin Group (SA) (Pty) Ltd
- South Africa
About Sarah Penny
Sarah Penny was born in Cape Town in 1970 and educated at the University of Cape Town and Rhodes before completing an MLitt in Creative Writing at St Andrews University, Scotland. She lives in London and is creative writing tutor at Brunel University as well as working part-time for the Open University. Her travelogue and first book, The Whiteness of Bones, was published in 1997 and her first novel, The Beneficiaries, was published in 2002 (shortlisted for the Sunday Times fiction prize 2003). She also writes short stories and contributes to a variety of publications, including The Guardian Unlimited and The Journal of Post-Colonial Writing. Her latest work of fiction, The Lies We Shared will be published in 2011.