Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog
Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa

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Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country--one of spectacular beauty and promise--come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors?

To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha's extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey.

Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission's work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog's powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog's profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Antjie Krog

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Antjie Krog was born in 1952 in the Free State Province in South Africa. In 1993 she became editor of a progressive Afrikaans language monthly in Cape Town and later worked as a radio journalist covering the Truth and Reconciliation Commision hearings in the late '90s, all the while writing extensively for newspapers and journals. She and her radio colleagues received the SABC Pringle Award for excellence in journalism for their coverage of the commission hearings. She has won major awards in almost all the genres and media in which she has worked: poetry, journalism, fiction, and translation. Krog's first volume of poetry was published when she was seventeen years old and she has since released thirteen volumes of poetry, receiving nearly every literary award available for works in Afrikaans. She is married to architect John Samuel, and is the mother of four children.

Author Hometown: Kroonstad, South Africa
Published December 18, 2007 by Broadway Books. 423 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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However, she is so focused on the particularities and intricacies of the South African experience that many general readers will find substantial chunks of this book somewhat inaccessible, despite a concluding glossary of South African terms and brief bios.

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The New York Times

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hey rise up like the dead at the day of reckoning, voice after voice, story after story, the troubled history of a shameful past," muses Anna Malan (Juliette Binoche), an anguished South African poet and journalist attending public hearings conducted in the late 1990's by South Africa's Truth and...

Mar 11 2005 | Read Full Review of Country of My Skull: Guilt, S...

Publishers Weekly

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This wrenching book tells the vital story of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the body charged with exploring human rights violations in the apartheid past and with recommending amnesty and reparations.

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Chicago Tribune

Jackson Anna Malan - Juliette Binoche De Jager - Brendan Gleeson Dumi Mkhalipi - Menzi "Ngubs" Ngubane Anderson - Sam Ngakane Elsa - Aletta Bezuidenhout Edward Morgan - Lionel Newton Boetie - Langley Kirkwood

Mar 30 2005 | Read Full Review of Country of My Skull: Guilt, S...


The combo of cultural cringe and a schematic, didactic screenplay strangles the human emotion in "Country of My Skull," an unquestionably sincere but dramatically stillborn outing by veteran John Boorman set during South Africa's mid-1990s reckoning with its apartheid past.

Feb 08 2004 | Read Full Review of Country of My Skull: Guilt, S...

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