Review of 'Out of Shadows'

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace

out_of_shadows.jpg It is 1983, Zimbabwe and Robert Jacklin is attending a boarding school having moved there from England. Immediately Robert is immersed into the politics of the school initially befriending the unassuming Nelson, a native Zimbabwean but increasingly spends time with the clever and charismatic though brutal Ivan, son of a white farming family that soon finds itself faced with the white-farmer removal policies of a newly elected Robert Mugabe. In the 1980s Mugabe is still seen to provide a promising future for both black and white Zimbabweans, before his brutal policies would eventually dramatically effect both. This story focuses on the black and white racism endemic in the society of the time with a dramatic, though possibly predictable, conclusion.

An interesting, if quite troubling, read of a promising period of modern Zimbabwe that we all now know would lead to disaster for the country. This story explores various aspects of the society that readers may not be aware of that really sheds a light on what really was going on at the time. There is extreme brutality that is exposed here, both literal and psychological causing Robert to question everything about his life and lifestyle. Despite being told from the perspective of Robert, I am not entirely sure any of the characters are entirely sympathetic though, if anything, it is the life of the ordinary Zimbabweans, such as those working for the main characters, that are the true innocents.

Though “Out of Shadows” does tend to drag slowly along the action, when it comes, is quick, swift and brutal. The prose flows well and is quite easy to read. A tragic story of modern Zimbabwe that often makes for a difficult read.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-12-18

Genre: African

Publisher: Vintage Books

Publication Date: 2010

ISBN: 9780099575269