About the Book
Shadow Play is a powerful novel of subterfuge, betrayal, risk and deep bonds of friendship formed during a time of struggle and pain while a new nation, determined to rise, faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles. When confronted with his call-up papers for the apartheid army, with his fellow student activists either scattered or in jail, Matthew chooses exile in Europe. In Amsterdam, he reconnects with his friend Oliver, who is studying music there. As he falls into a different rhythm of life, as contented as he is in a loving relationship and a job in a music store, the pull of his homeland never leaves him. When he receives an unexpected call from a former activist comrade, he makes a decision that will put at risk everything he has built in his new life. And when he meets Mandla for the first time, he knows there will be no going back.
In the deceptive ease and heady freedom of a cosmopolitan city, where liberal attitudes of Amsterdammers towards politics and sexuality are accepted as the norm, Matthew considers possibilities open to him that would have been impossible even to envision in his home country. But the reality of living as a refugee and an immigrant in Europe begins to intrude and with it a new and sometimes disquieting understanding of protest politics and the liberal ideal.
For Mandla, directions to a liberated country that were once clear to him and untainted by self-interest and the seduction of power, become blurred at times and increasingly uncomfortable. Both men have to search deep in their hearts when they are asked to make choices that challenge them morally, personally and politically.
About the Author
Gerald Kraak, until his death in 2014, was the head of the South African office of Atlantic Philanthropies. After studying at the University of Cape Town, during which time he was a student activist in the anti-apartheid movement, he left the country to avoid conscription, taking up residence in Amsterdam. He published two books on South African politics and directed a documentary film on gay conscripts in the apartheid army.
His first novel, the acclaimed Ice in the Lungs, which began the story of Matthew and Oliver, and which is continued in Shadow Play, was joint winner in 2005 of the European Union Literary Award. Shadow Play, while technically a sequel to Ice in the Lungs, is a stand-alone novel. Kraak was in the process of writing it when he died, leaving an unfinished draft in the care of his literary executor.