Sunday, April 24, 2016

SACRIFICES by Roger Smith

Sacrifices follows two South African families of opposite social classes: the rich, white, and privileged Lanes and the less-privileged family of their black maid, Denise Solomons. We witness the disintegration of these families after Michael Lane and his wife witness their son commit a brutal crime in their home.

It's a grim, violent, and riveting piece of work where author Roger Smith uses his tale to not only comment on the prevalent crime in Cape Town but also the racial and socioeconomic conflicts that still cripple the area. I was really impressed with Smith's writing this time around too, the prose in this book (his 7th I believe) even more propulsive and assertive than in his first novel Mixed Blood. It's a real surprise that Smith isn't more popular in the mainstream; one could easily compare his writing to the likes of Lehane and Pelecanos.

There's a review that called Smith "the crime genre's greatest tragedian." Among the three books I've read by him so far, this one supports that claim the most, showing the fall of these desperate individuals and their families with a scope that is fully Shakespearean. And it's gripping to witness the characters, even though each is the cause of the other's destruction, gravitate to one another because they have nowhere else to go. That makes it even more tragic.


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