‘It’s rare for a novel to go so deep that you come out of reading it a different person from when you went in. Damian Barr’s investigation of a part of South Africa’s history the British have been trying to forget for many, many years is such a book … Nothing more unusual and impressive has appeared for years’ – Diana Athill
After the success of his award-winning and widely acclaimed memoir, Maggie & Me, Damian Barr’s debut novel is an absolute triumph.
In South Africa, at the dawn of the 20th Century, Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp. 100 years later in Johannesburg, sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog; worried he’s not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp.
Inspired by real events, You Will Be Safe Here uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness.
‘A gripping, heart-breaking tale of uncomfortable histories and the resilience of love’ – Graham Norton
‘Devastating and formally ingenious, it traces the paths by which historical grief engenders present violence … A vitally brave and luminously compassionate book’ – Garth Greenwell
‘This would be an achievement for a third or fourth novel; for a first, it’s an astonishing one. Barr’s handling of his bravely chosen material – the conjoined shames of British and Afrikaaner history – is deft and the results will haunt you’ – Patrick Gale
Barr is an award-winning writer and columnist. Maggie & Me, his memoir about coming of age and coming out in Thatcher’s Britain, was a BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’, Sunday Times ‘Memoir of the Year’ and won the Paddy Power Political Books ‘Satire’ Award and Stonewall Writer of the Year Award. Damian writes columns for the Big Issue and High Life and often appears on BBC Radio 4.