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Soon there must come a day when I can say for myself: This and that I shall do, this and that I shall not.
Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master. The year is 1832 and the Cape is rife with rumours about the liberation of the slaves. Philida decides to risk her whole life by lodging a complaint against Francois, who has reneged on his promise to set her free.
His father has ordered him to marry a white woman from a prominent Cape Town family, and Philida will be sold on to owners in the harsh country up north. Unwilling to accept this fate, Philida continues to test the limits of her freedom, and with the Muslim slave Labyn she sets off on a journey across the great wilderness on the banks of the Gariep River, to the far north of Cape Town. Philida is an unforgettable story of one woman’s determination to survive and be free.
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A moving story of one woman’s struggle against hierarchies of race and gender that seek her absolute subjugation, Philida vividly dramatises the courage required to lay claim to the protections of the law, to speak out for ones rights even in the moment in which the law is on the wrong side of history - Daily Telegraph
Playful...and extremely harrowing... But the light and shade that Brink has skilfully introduced into his augmented family history make for a compelling and memorable novel - Guardian
Rich and complete... Brink’s rich and complex novel, told in the voices of the four main characters and an extrernal narrator, is much more than a horror story. The deep love of the South African countryside shines through, woven together with creation myths and earthy folk tales. Some may find the two elements sit uneasily together, but Brink’s confident writing made it work for me - The Times
Brink tells this grand-guignol tale in harrowing style - Daily Express
A poignant tale of a slave woman's quest for liberation set in 19th century Cape Town - Glass Magazine
Mixing brutal historical fact with legend, the novel paints a fine picture of a disintegrating society - Mail on Sunday
Philida is a unique, illuminating and original book…utterly engaging - Herald
In the hands of Mr Brink, one of South Africa’s most famous novelists, the land breathes, it feels alive - The Economist
Philida is a very powerful novel - Daily Mail
Brink writes beautiful prose, peppered with evocative descriptions of historic and often tragic Cape life - Regional Press (syndicated review)
Brink writes beautiful prose peppered with evocative descriptions of historic and often tragic Cape life - Irish Examiner
Brink's act of literary ventriloquism in Philida - his summoning of the voice of an illiterate slave-girl from the 1830s, in all its demotic sophistication and expressiveness - is undeniably astounding - Sunday Business Post
An unforgettable story of one woman’s determination to survive and be free - GQ magazine
About the Author
Andre Brink (1935 - 2015) was one of South Africa's most prominent writers and is the author of several novels, including A Dry White Season, Imaginings of Sand, The Rights of Desire,The Other Side of Silence and Philida. He has won South Africa's most important literay prize, the CNA Award, three times and has thrice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.