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Other Press, 2006 - Fiction - 347 pages
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A fiercely poetic literary debut re-creating the life of an 19th-century slave woman in South Africa.

Slavery as it existed in Africa has seldom been portrayed—and never with such texture, detail, and authentic emotion. Inspired by actual 19th-century court records,Unconfessedis a breathtaking literary tour de force. They called her Sila van den Kaap, slave woman of Jacobus Stephanus Van der Wat of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. A woman moved from master to master, farm to farm, and—driven by the horrors of slavery to commit an unspeakable crime—from prison to prison. A woman fit for hanging . . . condemned to death on April 30, 1823, but whose sentence the English, having recently wrested authority from the Dutch settlers, saw fit to commute to a lengthy term on the notorious Robben Island.

Sila spends her days in the prison quarry, breaking stones for Cape Town's streets and walls. She remembers the day her childhood ended, when slave catchers came — whipping the air and the ground and we were like deer whipped into the smaller and smaller circle of our fear. Sila remembers her masters, especially Oumiesies ("old Missus"), who in her will granted Sila her freedom, but Theron, Oumiesies' vicious and mercenary son, destroys the will and with it Sila's life. Sila remembers her children, with joy and with pain, and imagines herself a great bird that could sweep them up in her wings and set them safely on a branch above all harm.Unconfessedis an epic novel that connects the reader to the unimaginable through the force of poetry and a far-reaching imagination.

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User Review  - sharron47 - Overstock.com

This book was a disappointment. It rehashed and rehashed the same things over and over. I mean I got it the first couple of times but lets move onto something new. The small historical value was good ... Read full review


User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Sila van den Kaap doesn't recall much about her childhood, but one thing is clear: as a young girl, she was taken from her family in Mozambique and sold to Dutch settlers in the Cape Colony of South ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Yvette Christianse

Yvette Christianse was born in South Africa under apartheid and emigrated with her family via Swaziland to Australia at the age of eighteen. She is the author of the 1999 poetry collection Castaway. She teaches English and postcolonial studies at Fordham University and lives in New York City. Unconfessed, her first novel, was honored as a 2006 PEN/Hemingway Award finalist.

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