Albie & Oliver Sachs, copyright Steve Gordon
Albie Sachs’ Soft Vengeance
Souvenir Press is releasing a revised, updated and expanded edition of Albie Sachs’ The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter, 20 years after his intimate autobiography won The Alan Paton Award in 1991.
Albie lost his right arm and an eye when South African security agents blew up his car in Mozambique in 1988. The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter is his moving attempt to write his way to recovery. Remarkably, by the end, Albie has come to terms with being part of the democracy of the disabled, to a place where he can write, “I think if somehow I could miraculously be offered my arm back, I would refuse.”
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu writes the forward, calling the book “so beautiful, almost poetic, in describing the sense of his body, his sheer physicality, the role women have played in helping him come in touch with his body, helping him to become whole… This book ought to be a bestseller.”
The Soft Vengeance of the Freedom Fighter is the story of a high-powered man coming to terms with new physical limitations, of how Albie is forced to step back from adrenaline-fueled struggle politics and re-learn to value the personal and the mundane.
In their review, Times Educational Supplement called it, “A highly personal and sensually explicit odyssey concerning his own damaged body at the same time as writing a book imbued with apparently undaunted idealism concerning his damaged mother-country South Africa.”
Albie went on to become a Justice of the Constitutional Court, so this is also an insider’s view of South Africa’s recent history, from Nelson Mandela’s election, to the creation of arguably the most progressive constitution in the world, to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Independent wrote, “(An) extraordinary man, a living testimony to the belief that the human spirit can overcome all adversity… That he survived not just to exist but make so fulsome a contribution to the life of a new, altogether better South Africa is a triumph.”
The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter has received glowing reviews all over the world. Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer wrote, “I’ve never read anything quite like this book; wild, loving, sad, with humour striking deep as emotion.”
The new edition, with a cover portrait by legendary South African photographer David Goldblatt, is available at all decent South African booksellers.
As Professor Njabulo S Ndebele writes in his introduction, The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter is “one of the most intensely reflective books in South African literature… another South African gift to the world.”