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News > Publications by ODs > A debut novel by David Maughan Brown (W, 1961)

A debut novel by David Maughan Brown (W, 1961)

A state of emergency has been declared in South Africa. Part fiction, part real, the story plots the journey of an activist academic in the dark days of apartheid

David Maughan Brown and the cover of his new book
David Maughan Brown and the cover of his new book
David, until his retirement five years ago, enjoyed a successful career as an academic, first in South Africa and latterly at York St John in York. Then, with time on his hands, he wrote Despite the Darkness, which deals, as a work of fiction based on fact, with his experiences as a "targeted" liberal academic in the darkest days of apartheid. The book was released on 28th August.

To order David's book (£9.99+£3.40 UK postage), click HERE (back to the top)

A bit about the story:


In this compelling fiction debut, David Maughan Brown shines a light on the dark days of Apartheid in South Africa he himself lived through.

It is 1985, South Africa is rapidly becoming ungovernable and a State of Emergency has been declared. This is the world that David Maughan Brown has based his novel on and its dark overtones cast the perfect shadow for the plot to thrive in, made authentic by the author’s own experiences. “I wrote Despite the Darkness partly so that something creative could come out of the experience of having lived through much of the Special Branch harassment that the main characters in the novel are subjected to,” explains David. “Things such as having my telephone tapped; post intercepted; car followed; being repeatedly woken in the dead of night by telephoned death threats. For many years, even before my university colleague was murdered by the security police after receiving very similar death threats, I felt the need to make sure I didn’t ever turn the light on in a dark room without first making sure the curtains were closed.” He continues: “As an academic in South Africa who strongly supported the sanctions and boycott campaign as a major contribution towards ending apartheid, I found myself in the paradoxical position of supporting the boycott of myself. That paradox seemed to me to be worth exploring in fiction, particularly in a context in which white people who remained in South Africa during the apartheid years were very often assumed to be supporters of apartheid, irrespective of the difficulties their opposition to apartheid might have caused them.” Despite the Darkness confronts a History lecturer, Cameron Beaumont, who is under constant surveillance by the security police and subject to regular death threats, with a crisis. How should he respond – torn as he is between his desire to play his part in the struggle and his need to protect his wife, Jules, and the children he adores? And the death threats turn out to be just the beginning...

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