Cracks by Sheila Kohler was one of the most unusual non-genre novels I’ve read, and the kind of book you never forget. It’s an intensely sensual story about desire, beauty, and jealousy set at a girls’ boarding school in rural South Africa. It has the quirk of a group narrator (one of the members actually has the same name as the author), and an unforgettably shocking climax. When I first read it in high school, I also thought it amazingly refreshing to find a South African novel that wasn’t about politics, racism or Apartheid. After re-reading it later I felt that it wasn’t one of the best books I’ve read, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable and poetic, reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides.
When I saw a new Sheila Kohler novel on NetGalley, I immediately requested it in the hope of a similarly evocative reading experience.
Marketing copy from NetGalley:
In 1978, Dawit, a young and beautiful Ethiopian refugee, roams the streets of Paris. By chance, he spots the famous French author M., who at sixty is at the height of her fame. Seduced by Dawit’s grace and his moving story, M. invites him to live with her. He makes himself indispensable, or so he thinks. When M. brings him to her Sardinian villa, beside the Bay of Foxes, Dawit finds love and temptation-and perfects the art of deception.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sheila Kohler was born in South Africa and earned degrees from the Sorbonne, the Institut Catholique, and Columbia University. She teaches at Princeton University and Bennington College and lives in New York City. She has won two O. Henry Prizes, an Open Fiction Award, a Willa Cather Prize, and a Smart Family Foundation Prize. Her books have been published in 10 countries and have sold more than 60,000 copies.
The Bay of Foxes will by published on 26 June by Penguin Books USA.