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Book review: You Will Be Safe Here

Words by Tara Smith

An impressive novel debut.

You Will Be Safe Here is the impressive novel debut from Damian Barr, the author of well-received memoir Maggie & Me.

The new work of fiction chronicles two harrowing stories 100 years apart – one set in South Africa in 1901 (during the height of the second Boer War) and the other in Johannesburg in 2010. Despite this gap, both stories are tied by their dark tales of violence, abuse and humanity’s capacity for cruelty.

The stories follow protagonists Sarah and Willem (one forced into a concentration camp, the other, an oppressive ‘training camp for boys’) who are both promised ‘safety’ in their new homes. Inspired by real events, the stories explore a history of South Africa I knew little about, but have become engrossed in since embarking on this read.

You Will Be Safe Here is a hard novel to put down, and shows that no matter how disturbing, history will always repeat itself.

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 189. You can read it here.

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