Sins of the British Empire
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Published in: September-October 2019 issue.


You Will Be Safe Here
by Damian Barr
Bloomsbury Publishing. 352 pages, $27.


HOW DOES THE PAST ripple through to the present? In what ways do the actions of those who’ve lived long ago affect everyone alive today? You Will Be Safe Here is an examination of these themes. Taking place during the Boer War era of South Africa in 1901 and in modern Johannesburg circa 2010, the novel tracks multiple story lines that only converge and begin to make sense about halfway through the book.

         Beginning with the diary entries of Sarah van der Watt, a member of a Boer (Afrikaans for “farmer”) family taken by force from their farm and sent by the British to a concentration camp, Sarah writes of her struggles as 250,000 British imperial forces are deployed to the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, whose forces numbered just 17,000 men.

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