The Folly

Grimly humorous and playfully serious, the novel "The Folly" is a comic and philosophical masterpiece.
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Title: The Folly
Author: Ivan Vladislavic
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Random House Struik
Imprint: Umuzi
Cape Town, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781415205525 / ISBN 978-1-4152-0552-5
Softcover, 15 x 22 cm, 160 pages


Nieuwenhuizen stood on the verge, in the darkness, looking down the street. In one hand he held a brown imitation-leather portmanteau; in the other some small, cold coins given to him by a taxi-driver moments before. The tail-lights of the taxi flared up at the end of the street, and vanished. Nieuwenhuizen turned to the plot. It was smaller than he'd been led to believe, no more than an acre, and overgrown with tall grass and weeds. The land was bounded on two sides by an unruly hedge, breaking against the night sky, and on a third by a prefabricated cement wall with panels in the shape of wagon-wheels. The fourth side, where he found himself, had once been fenced off from the street: the remains of this frontier crumpled scrolls of barbed wire, a gate, some club-footed wooden posts in concrete boots - lay all around. He tightened his grip on his change with one hand and on the sponge-swaddled handle of his portmanteau with the other, high-stepped over a tangle of wire, and pushed through the grass, onwards. Sour dust burst from the brittle stems he felled and crushed with his boots. Breathing the dust down, salivating, swallowing, he fixed his eyes on the horizon and forged ahead. After a while he stumbled over an anthill. It seemed a pity to waste this discovery, so he stood on top of the hill and turned his face ceremoniously to the four corners of his inheritance. It was a big face, with a crack of a mouth and a stump of a nose, with unfathomable sockets, craggy brows and a bulging forehead dented in the middle, altogether suited to the play of moonlight and shade. His survey revealed a single tree in the elbow of the hedge, and he chose that spot for his camp. Nieuwenhuizen hung his scarf on a thorn. Then he sat on his portmanteau under the tree and looked expectantly at the bloodshot windows of the house behind the wagon wheel wall. [...]

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