It's a black Karoo night and a young woman, covered in blood, is
running along a deserted dirt track. A terrible thing has happened
and the woman, Siena, has to reach Seekoegat Primary School at the
end of the track, the only place she knows that is safe. It's a
long way to run, a three-day ride on a donkey cart.
This is the
story of Siena, Boetie and Kriekie, whose lives intersect as
children and who meet again as adults: Boetie is a boy running
wild. Deprived and neglected he is always up to mischief but his
friendship with Siena gives him self-worth. Kriekie is a basket
case. As the child of a prostitute working the truck-stops along
the n1 he has no home. When his mother, Dolly, doesn't come back, a
small act of kindness by a woman running a shop at the truck-stop
sees him end up at Seekoegat Primary. Plodding steadily through
each chapter is the spectre of the ancient Karoo tortoise. Siena's
father, Pa, a karretjiemens, reveres the tortoise as a creature
that holds within it the wisdom of the ancient landscape and that
cries only one tear when it dies. The Tortoise Cried Its Only Tear
is award-winning author Carol Campbell's third book on the Karoo.
Like her previous work this story is a piece of social realism but,
for the first time, Campbell introduces hints of magical realism -
which is very much in keeping with the world view of the people she
Is the information for this product incomplete, wrong or inappropriate?
Let us know about it.
Does this product have an incorrect or missing image?
Send us a new image.
Is this product missing categories?
Add more categories.
Review This Product
Sat, 27 Jul 2019 | Review by: Breakaway R
A poignant tale of Karretjiemense in The Karoo, SouthAfrica
It’s a dark night in the Karoo, and a bloodied young woman is running along a deserted dust road. Siena is determined to reach Seekoegat Primary School, her only safe haven. It’s a three-day ride on a donkey cart, and she only has her legs to carry her now.
Siena's people are dispossessed karretjiemense, travelling by donkey cart and searching for small jobs to survive another day. Her wild childhood is shared with the even more neglected Boetie, and they become inseparable until a dramatic incident enrages the farmer’s wife and their lives are changed forever. Siena is packed off to Seekoegat Primary school as a boarder. There, she befriends children of a similar background and takes to her lessons like a true scholar.
Kriekie, the boy with deformed hands and the son of a sex worker, becomes besotted with the kind new girl, Siena, who takes him under her wing. Sometimes, Siena even dares to dream of a future, which would open up a new world…
The two boys and Siena, meet up again as adults and their shared history results in an unexpected twist.
Once again, Carol Campbell has created a highly sensitive story of marginalised people. She takes us right into their lives and offers us insight into a world we are mostly unaware of. In doing so, Campbell affords the karretjiemense dignity and respect.
The tortoise, an animal that embodies ancient wisdom and which cries only one tear when it dies, is central to this poignant story and an icon in the stark landscape that Siena’s people embrace as their home.
Author of Under the African Sun
Did you find this review helpful? Yes (0) | No (0)