The Other Side of Silence

Written by Andre Brink
Review by Alycia Harris

When she hears of the opportunity to serve German men in Africa, Hanna goes – leaving a past of heartache and sorrow. But when Hanna runs afoul of a German officer, she ends up at Frauenstien, a pathetic German outpost. When another officer threatens her friend, Hanna reacts, and she and her friend set out on a journey of discovery and revenge. It isn’t long before they are joined by others – women and natives – who, for many reasons, want to fight back.

Set soon after the turn of the last century, the whole book is a vivid picture of German society both home and abroad in Africa. Furthermore, the author has researched and included colorful stories and descriptions of native Africans of that time. While the story is essentially fiction, the author includes notes at the conclusion that indicate extensive research into the period and people.

The book is basically in two parts – understanding Hanna’s past and the journey of revenge. The first part of the book is very jumpy and difficult to read. It is also very hard to get into. But perseverance pays off: the second part is very suspenseful and psychologically taut.