Synopses & Reviews
Nicholas van der Swart has always known he is different. Unable to live up to the expectations his family, his heritage and his culture have of him, he grows increasingly diffident and introverted. When, at the age of 19, he is conscripted into the South African army, he enters a world that is utterly at odds with his every sensibility. Here, he will face the scorn and violence of his tormenters, but will also find the strength to survive.
Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa has gone a long way toward exposing and exorcising some of the atrocities committed in the name of Apartheid, very little has been revealed about the adversities faced by gays under the regime. Set in "Ward 22" during the Angola Bush War that raged from 1966 to 1989 in South-west Africa, Moffie transports the reader into the world of a young gay conscript with evocative realism.
At turns heart wrenching and humorous, told with great sensitivity and infused with hope, Moffie is a long overdue account of a vital subject, place and time.
"Set during the Angola Bush War (1966 1989), this powerful debut exposes the violence of life in the South African army from the viewpoint of a young gay man. Growing up under the strict rule of his Afrikaans father, Nicholas van der Swart always felt out of place, especially after the tragic death of his older brother, Frankie, when the boys were children. Nick's father always insisted he wouldn't tolerate a 'moffie,' a derogatory Afrikaans term for homosexual, and one that was often bandied about in Nick's presence. It's expected that the mandatory conscription into the South African Defense Force when Nick turns 19 will toughen him up. The story shifts easily between Nick's childhood the few happy years with Frankie overshadowed by bullying at home and at school and his infantry initiation. Some of the push-until-they-break army grunt scenes lack original spark, but van der Merwe compensates with polished prose, atmospheric scenes, and rich character relationships, particularly those between Nick and three young men he meets at different stages of his grueling training. Ethan is the ethereal first love who satisfactorily doesn't disappear from the narrative; Malcolm becomes the reliable best friend who comes through in a pinch; and Dylan is the one who needs saving but might be beyond reach. Nick's homosexuality is never a cheap plot device; van der Merwe effectively uses the hatred and fear surrounding homosexuality to explore prejudice and what it takes to overcome it. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
André Carl van der Merwe was born in Harrismith in the Free State, South Africa. When his family moved to Cape Town, after two years of national service, he started studying fine art in Cape Town and later founded a clothing company, which he owned and ran for the next fifteen years. Today he concentrates on architectural and interior design and writing.