A Drop of Light on Brian Rostrum’s Black Petals
This new novel by Bryan Rostrum, Black Petals, weaves a story of suspense around its main character, an archivist named Macaulay Vogel.
The unassuming Vogel examines a recently discovered cache of old police archives, when, all of a sudden, he comes upon a surveillance file about himself. It’s a terrible shock: he doesn’t recognise the person in the file at all.
Who is the youthful Macaulay Vogel in these reports? As Vogel sets out to discover who he once was – and now is – a series of dramatic events is ignited. Vogel soon discovers why no one wants the past raked up anymore. He seeks out old friends: a lover; former comrades; the struggle lawyer turned corporate lawyer; even his nemesis, Boschard, the eerie former security policeman.
Vogel’s search for the truth is paralleled by the excavation of a mysterious accumulation of bones in the centre of Cape Town. Is this a secret slave burial pit? The site becomes an impassioned battle ground and the rising social and racial tensions threaten to spill over into violence. Unwillingly, Vogel is sucked into mediating between two former comrades, now bitter rivals.
This is a story about South Africa, today: of lapsed hopes … and lost love.
“See what happens when you dig up skeletons and try to make sense of them today,” Boschard warns. “The files, you see, are like the bones. Best left to rest.”
About the Author
Bryan Rostron’s previous novel, My Shadow, was commended for the Commonwealth Writers prize. He is the author of Till Babylon Falls, a non-fiction account of Robert McBride and the 1986 Magoo Bar Bombing, which Anthony Sampson described as, “of political and historic importance.”
Rostron has written for, among others – the New York Times, the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Spectator and The New Statesman, and Private Eye.
“My Shadow is a complex, cryptic, intriguing work [...]. Rostron brilliantly creates a bizarre yet familiar world in which yesterday’s dissident is today’s hero and tomorrow’s head of state.”
- Michiel Heyns