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Salt and Honey - Book of the Month

by Candi Miller

When Mannie goes hunting on his Uncle Etienne’s land with his father, Deon, his uncle and his cousin, Andre, he has no idea that the prey they seek is not of the four-legged variety. A gemsbok (antelope) had been found butchered on the farm, its womb ripped out and the calf foetus missing – the work of poachers. Etienne, big, blonde, broad – an Afrikaner success story, has no doubt that “some focken witch doctor’s responsible.” The only possible answer is revenge.

A man-hunt ensues and in the resultant carnage a female Khoisan child, Koba, is captured and taken back to the farm. What to do with her?

Mannie’s mother, Marta, is a liberal who abhors the Apartheid regime. (When Mannie refers to the tribal people as “kaffirs” and “bushmen” she chides him, “Remember it’s Khoisan now”). Marta decides that, for her safety, the child must go back with them to their farm a thousand miles away. But rather than live with them (as a servant) as Deon suggests, she makes the appalling decision to take Koba to a cave in the hills so that she can continue to live, Marta believes, according to her culture. Koba is confused and frightened but, comforted and driven by the voice of Zuma, her grandmother, she learns to adapt and survive.

Koba’s beauty and resourcefulness fascinates Mannie and the two soon become friends. As time goes by their friendship deepens to love - with heart-rending consequences.

SALT AND HONEY is a heartfelt novel that is beautifully written and deals sensitively with big themes. The author researched the novel for ten years, including an expedition to live with one of the Kalahari tribes. Candi Miller revealed that it was shocking news which drove her to take on the Bushmen’s cause: "While doing research I came across a rumour, widely held to be based on fact, that in the previous century it had been possible to buy a license to shoot Bushmen in what was then South West Africa, much as one could buy a licence to shoot buck. I knew then here was a tale that had to be told."

Legend Press’s publicity points out how it has also gained attention as being the first Western mainstream novel to feature the famous ‘click’ language of the San tribes and comes complete with a short guide at the back so readers can try out the pronunciations.

Read our interview with Candi Miller.

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