In the Eastern Cape, Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, a young Anglican priest, must journey to his mother’s rural home to inform her of his elder brother’s death. In this raw and compelling story, Marguerite Poland employs her considerable experience as a writer and specialist in South African languages to recreate the polarised, duplicitous world of Victorian colonialism and its betrayal of the very people it claimed to be enlightening.
A SIN OF OMISSION
by Marguerite Poland
Penguin South Africa, October 2019 | Envelope Books UK, May 2022
(via The Lennon-Ritchie Agency)
Torn from his parents as a small child in the 1870s, Stephen Mzamane is picked by the Anglican church to train at the Missionary College in Canterbury and then returned to southern Africa’s Cape Colony to be a preacher. He is a brilliant success, but troubles stalk him: his unresolved relationship with his family and people, the condescension of church leaders towards their own native pastors, and That Woman-seen once in a photograph and never forgotten. And now he has to find his mother and take her a message that will break her heart. Stephen’s journey to his mother’s home proves decisive in resolving the contradictions that tear at his heart.
Marguerite Poland is an award-winning South African writer of books for adults and children. Brought up in the Eastern Cape, she studied Social Anthropology and Xhosa, took a master’s in Zulu literature and folktales, and was awarded a doctorate for her study of the cattle of the Zulus. Two of her books – The Mantis and the Moon and Woodash Stars – won South Africa’s Percy FitzPatrick Award. The Train to Doringbult was short listed for the CNA Awards. Shades has been a matriculation set text for over a decade. And The Keeper received the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award in 2015 as the title South African book-sellers most enjoyed reading, selling and promoting the previous year. Translated into several languages, the author won South Africa’s highest civic award in 2016 for her contribution to the field of indigenous languages, literature and anthropology. In 2021 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cecil Rhodes University.