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Poignant tale of personal and political responsibility, and the narratives that bind families and nationalities

09 December 2019 - 11:28 By umuzi
'The Weight of Skin' by Alastair Bruce.
'The Weight of Skin' by Alastair Bruce.
Image: Umuzi

“You would not think it to look at you, but your voice, when you use it: akin to a god’s. You must be careful what you do with it.”

Exiled Jacob Kitara takes in injured compatriots and nurses them in a boarded-up building. Social unrest has emptied the streets of London, movement into and out of the country has been suspended, and those who remain are in hiding.

When a young man makes his appearance, insisting he is Jacob’s son — a man presumed dead, torn from Jacob’s life by war and guilt over the fate of the boy’s mother — Jacob is driven to anger.

But can this stranger offer Jacob a chance to reach back to a different continent, to the foot of Africa from where he has been banished, to atone for the past?

The Weight of Skin is a poignant tale of personal and political responsibility, and of the intricate narratives of family and nationality that bind us.

Alastair Bruce is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Wall of Days and Boy on the Wire. He was born in Port Elizabeth, spending a large part of his childhood on a smallholding outside the city. He now lives in Buckinghamshire, UK, with his wife and two young children.