My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience

My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience

by Rian Malan


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My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience by Rian Malan

A classic of literary nonfiction, My Traitor's Heart has been acclaimed as a masterpiece by readers around the world. Rian Malan is an Afrikaner, scion of a centuries-old clan and relative of the architect of apartheid, who fled South Africa after coming face-to-face with the atrocities and terrors of an undeclared civil war between the races. This book is the searing account of his return after eight years of uneasy exile. Armed with new insight and clarity, Malan explores apartheid's legacy of hatred and suffering, bearing witness to the extensive physical and emotional damage it has caused to generations of South Africans on both sides of the color line. Plumbing the darkest recesses of the white and black South African psyches, Malan ultimately finds his way toward the light of redemption and healing. My Traitor's Heart is an astonishing book — beautiful, horrifying, profound, and impossible to put down.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802136848
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/28/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 374,553
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

"It all leads back, in the end, to Dawid Malan and a law formulated on the far bank of the Great Fish River two hundred years ago: You have to put the black man down, plant your foot on his neck, and keep him that way forever, lest he spring up and slit your throat. What would you have me say? That I think apartheid is stupid and vicious? I do. That I'm sorry? I am, I am. That I'm not like the rest of them? If you'd met me a few years ago, in a bar in London or New York, I would have told you that. I would have told you that only I, of all my blind clan and tribe, had eyes that could truly see, and that what I saw appalled me. I would have passed myself off as a political exile, an enlightened sort who took black women into his bed and fled his country rather than carry a gun for the abominable doctrine of white supremacy. You would probably have believed me. I almost believed myself, you see, but in truth I was always one of them. I am a white man born in Africa, and all else flows from there."

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My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 5 days ago
I would like to know if the ascension of mandala made a difference. I was recently in South Africa and black South Africans told me that Blacks are still treated unjustly and the government is corrupt again. When will it ever end!?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing short of a masterpiece. I felt like I was there with the author in this memoir. Unusual take on the two faced monster that is the country of South Africa during apartied. Moving and personal, this book opened my mind to the beauty that is told in truth. Emotionally draining. Thank you, Rian Malan, for your courage as I find your words meaningful and inspirational.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
6 Stars. When I read this I'd heard nothing of this book, or author, so maybe we're starting from the same place, hey? But reading this was the most startling, soul searching, eye-opening, profound, beautiful, completely shattering experience. I will never love a book like this one. I won't say more, just read it. The last pages of this book are the most beautiful I have ever read. There's something startling about this man's honesty and clarity of perception.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book makes racial tensions in the American South seem quite mild. Malan's accounts of South Africa made my stomach turn, but this book was so interesting that I could barely put it down. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to broaden their view of the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Malan delves honestly into the horror and beauty of South Africa by way of his own heart. He does not leave one centimeter of his own intentions, history, or self unsearched. As an American living in Africa, I felt so connected to this book, and it caused me to look at my own deamons. Thank you, Mr. Malan This book is not easy to read, in fact is disturbing at times. But in it's honesty is grace, and in deed, a beginning of an answer to the fear we all have.