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Jennifer Crocker Interviews Mark Behr on Kings of the Water

Kings of the WaterMark BehrJennifer Crocker learns that Mark Behr’s ambition was to write a “plaasroman [farm novel] for the 21st century” with Kings of the Water – and that it’s a book that works in profound ways with Behr’s sense of South African self:

Behr lives in the US but is intimately linked to South Africa. He says he lives openly as a gay man, so there is the temptation to assume Michiel Steyn [his main character] is Behr.

Michiel is a gay man. He has fled Paradys (Paradise) after an incident during his military service which “disgraced” him, and ends up living in the US. In the act of being himself he has betrayed the Afrikaner image of what a man is and so is cast out, ostensibly by his father but also, it seems, by himself.

Behr says: “At heart it is a book about the fluidity of life and the inevitability of change – personal, political, psychological, environmental, discursive – and the foolishness (and danger) of all kinds of certitude and of trying to control what cannot be controlled.

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