Mark Winkler’s third novel, The Safest Place You Know, is set in the 1980s in South Africa. Much of the action takes place on a wine farm in the Cape – a vast estate owned by a wealthy heiress.
Today South Africa’s wine industry enjoys international recognition and is a significant player on the world stage; back then, things were very different. The author discusses the state of the wine industry in South Africa in the 1980s, and considers how things have changed over the past thirty years:
In the 1980s, the South African wine industry focused on selling its product on price rather than quality. International sanctions had begun to have a severe effect on the South African economy, and the result was a surplus of mediocre and unsalable product, referred to as a “wine lake”. Millions of litres were dumped into rivers and dams in the attempt to reduce supply and to push up demand. Only the most visionary of grape farmers, like the fictitious Oliver Maidenstone Basset, had begun to concern themselves with quality. They introduced new technology and innovative, if controversial, techniques, such as the green harvest practised on the Basset estate. Though not immediately profitable at the time, such initiatives would become the norm, raising the international reputation of South African wines.
- Also read: The man behind the character: True-life inspiration in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know
The Safest Place You Know follows a young man who, after his father’s violent death, leaves the family farm in the drought-stricken Free State with no plan, and with no way of knowing that his life will soon be changed for ever by two strangers he encounters on his journey south: a mute 12-year-old girl who bears a striking resemblance to his late niece, and a troubled lawyer who detests the Cape wine estate she’s inherited from her cruel and arrogant father. As they become entwined in each other’s lives and secrets, it becomes clear that the enigmatic little girl will play more of a role in their redemption than anyone suspects.
About the author
Mark Winkler is the author of the critically acclaimed novels An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything) and Wasted, which was longlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. His short story “When I Came Home” was shortlisted for the 2016 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and “Ink” was awarded third place in the 2016 Short Story Africa competition.
- The Safest Place You Know by Mark Winkler
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
» read article