No Tigers in Africa - A book review

The novel "No Tigers in Africa" written by Norman Silver was published by Faber and Faber (Klett) in 2003.

It deals with a South African family who has escaped from Johannesburg to Bristol in order to leave the guilt behind. The protagonist is the fifteen - year - old Selwyn Lewis who has big problems to make friends at school because of his "apartheid attitude". Although his family tries to begin a new life Selly is incapable of forgetting his life in Johannesburg. On account of that he always contrasts his experiences. Both Selly`s guilt and loneliness combined with the new problems in the family based on phoniness make him try to commit suicide. But he survives and is taken to hospital which is called "the Villa". There he gets to know people who can understand his accent and his problems; thus his silence goes away. Consequently Selly learns to talk about his problems and he also realizes a bit that his racial attitude could be wrong. But the reader is not yet informed what Selly`s guilt is about. That time Selwyn falls in love with Rosalie and at the end he tells her what terrible thing has happened in South Africa: he made his father shoot a black boy in his warehouse only because of Selly`s cry.

The message of the book is that the people shall talk about their problems otherwise they will be cut off society.

In my opinion this book is recommendable but I also think that it is a little bit too exaggerated which you can see at the end. I would not have expected that there would be such a happy ending, that is not realistic. But all in all "No Tigers in Africa" is a good book.

Jennifer Bittner

Download the book review here.