Marlene van Niekerk is a respected writer from South Africa, who writes in the Afrikaner language, one of the official languages in this country. I was very impressed by her novel Agaat, a story of two women, bound together from different backgrounds and different positions in life.
“Die vrou wat haar verkyker vergeet het” (“The woman who forgot her binoculars”) is one of the short stories in this collection. This story is about a womane who stays for a holidays in the house of friends. She looks forward to have a peace of mind to write and watch birds. When she arrives in the house and unpacks her luggage she discovers she has forgotten her binoculars to watch birds in the garden, near and far. She devises a way to attract birds close to the veranda where she sits and enjoys her time. For how long will this joy last?
Another story is about a lecturer at a university who will be forced very soon to leave her job. She has one student, a female student, left to teach. This student Margarethe has special needs, she hardly talks, she tapes everything to rehear all the lectures. The lecturer uses her time and her lectures to seduce the young woman, step by step she weaves a web in which the student get entangled.
In another story we travel to the small village of Spekfontein that prepares it self for its 150 years in existence. An old couple is pushed into volunteering to take part in the celebrations. They involve their male servant in their plans with deadly results.
Marlene has written six stories (collected in this volume) with precision. She writes about people with troubled minds and she delves into the depths of their minds, all the time keeping her precision. She does not rely on sentimental words and evocations. The choice of words is sober and at the same time impressive.
Marlene van Niekerk
Die vrou wat haar verkyker vergeet het