Picks and Pans Review: The Textures of Silence

UPDATED 07/09/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/09/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Gordon Vorster

The wealthiest couple in a small South African village have a son born blind. Three weeks later a second tragic event leaves the infant deaf and spastic as well. The father builds a special room where the child cannot injure himself, and his mother plants fragrant herbs by his exercise "run" because she thinks he might have a sense of smell. A marvelous black nurse takes care of the child. Fifty years later, after both parents are dead, a series of medical miracles take place. This original, wonderfully moving novel is full of insights: about the African black, about the maimed, about the rich and proud and guilt-tormented, about the overpowering need for love. The plot is faintly Victorian melodrama, offset by the open, direct inclusion of sex. The story covers more than five decades, and unlike most that come out of South Africa, there is no explicit hint of anything political. The author is a white South African artist, film producer and director, actor, poet, photographer, critic and broadcaster. This, his first novel, is the work of a splendid storyteller—and not to be missed. (Morrow, $15.95)

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