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Ariëlla Kornmehl

The Butterfly Month

Betrayed by her parents, her lover, and her own body, Joni, a young doctor, leaves her home in the Netherlands for a rural hospital in post-apartheid South Africa. There she lives a life of self-imposed exile, dominated and deadened by the daily stream of medical emergencies confronting her, the inadequacies of the system she works in, and the loneliness of her empty domestic existence. Apart from a few brief erotic encounters, she is able to keep the world at a distance.

Gradually, though, the lives of Joni’s Zulu housemaid, Zanele, and Zanele’s two children begin to intrude on her isolation. As they forge a personal link with her, so the spirits of Africa penetrate Joni’s life and begin to erode its sense of controlled precision. And as Joni finally realises that she, too, has unwittingly become emotionally involved with her African friends, the vulnerability of her fragile routine becomes all too clear. In a mesmerising denouement, Joni finds herself at the mercy of ‘the God of Africa’ and exposed to chaotic, brutal forces that she cannot control.

The Butterfly Month is an edgy, haunting novel that derives immense power from its disarmingly gentle tone.The Butterfly Month