When Hilton Ellis leaves South Africa to escape his cloying middle-class life, as well as military service in the apartheid army, he has no idea of the challenges that await him in exile.
Dumped at the ‘bottom of the social shitpile’, as he says, and starting life again from scratch, he succeeds in becoming a celebrated storyteller, B-movie actor and newspaper food columnist. But on the way he must negotiate the traps and pitfalls of his encounters with a range of larger-than-life characters in underground Amsterdam and beyond.
Among them are squatter slumlord Janos, Alex the gentle junkie, Joburg crime boss John Boggs and his crew at the TranSky Cafe, bank robber and raconteur Garry Groovy, the mysterious Mr Mavros, wandering Jamie the ‘Beautyful Boy’, the Third Earl, former South African spy Barry Bravo, future A-list actress Isabella Salazar, and his sharp-tongued editor at the City Eye, Laura Tracciata. And will he ever hear how his best friend, Sparks Mchunu, former ANC guerrilla, climbed the Berlin Wall to freedom?
The Incident on Heron Island is both a sidelong account of Hilton’s uprooted world and a celebration of his love of storytelling, and how its subtle lies and deceptions shape our lives.
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Also by Richard Jurgens: One Summer Poems
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