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Middleburg is a “coming of age” memoir recollecting the author’s childhood experiences of growing up in a small town in apartheid South Africa. M. J. Poynter provides a scathing attack of the apartheid regime as seen from the perspective of an English immigrant who finds himself growing up in a culture of conflicting values. The novel breaks new ground in terms of providing an examination of oppression from the perspective of a white minority. Here the instruments of apartheid are viewed from the experiences of someone who is not segregated in terms of race but who is excluded by nationality and culture. Told through a series of amusing anecdotes the novel documents many of the events taking place in South Africa during the 1980’s and provides an insightful observation of the popular culture relating to that period. His recollection of events captures a sense of morbid nostalgia in which themes of horror are contrasted with images of the comic and the bizarre. Set against a backdrop of brutal oppression this “rights of passage” demonstrates how the human spirit can at least find the resolve to laugh in the face of adversity!

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