Review: VIVIEN HORLER
Bare Ground, by Peter Harris (Picador Africa)
Peter Harris seems to have an instinctive ability to tell a good story.
The lawyer turned writer has produced three books: two non-fiction titles – In a Different Time, and Birth – which read like thrillers, and the new novel, Bare Ground, which reads like a documentary. It’s made up, and yet the tale he tells is so plausible in the current South African context that it feels true, just one you haven’t read in the newspaper yet.
Bare Ground was launched at the Book Lounge recently, and Harris told proprietor Mervyn Sloman he felt this was a novel that needed to be published now, given the pace at which things move in South Africa.
“Some stuff lies beyond fiction, quite frankly. I wanted it to come out during the Zuma presidency – it’s important to tell this story now in our history.”
The story is of a mining company that needs to set up a consortium to give effect to a BEE deal. The boss is wealthy, urbane Max Sinclair, and his right-hand man is one Sifiso Lesibe, a geologist now working in head office.
The way the deal is structured is critical, Max realises. Do they go internally and give it to senior black employees in the company, with some going to black staff, or do they go to an outside consortium. Or should it be a mixture of both? Continue reading