As a small child in a wintry Bremen, Hanna dreams about the other side of silence, the place where the wind comes from and palm trees wave in the sun. Seeing her chance to escape from years of abuse in an orphanage and in service, Hanna joins one of the shiploads of young women transported in the early years of the twentieth century to the colony of German South-West Africa to assuage the needs of the male settlers. Following atrocious punishment for daring to resist the advances of an army officer, she arrives in a phantasmagoric refuge in the African desert - 'prison, nunnery, brothel, shithouse, Frauenstein'. When the drunken excesses of a visiting army detachment threaten her only companion, Hanna revolts.
Mounting a ragtag army of female and native victims of colonial brutality, she sets out on an epic march through the desert to take on the might of the German Reich. This apocalyptic journey through the darker regions of the soul will also reveal to her the hidden meanings of suffering, revenge, companionship, love and compassion.
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André Brink is the author of several novels in English, including A Dry White Season, Imaginings of Sand, The Rights of Desire and The Other Side of Silence. He has won South Africa's most important literary prize, the CNA Award, three times and has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.