Blessings on the Sheep Dog: Stories

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9780870744686: Blessings on the Sheep Dog: Stories

From the violent world of apartheid South Africa to the supposed immigrant haven of the United States, the people in Saunders’s debut story collection brave life’s big questions about connection, displacement, death, love, race, and justice. Grappling with feelings too disturbing to articulate, they turn to anthropology or math, music or cosmology, to make sense of the dissonance around them. More often than not, the only truth they find is that life is a complicated dance, and doing the right thing a moment by moment decision.

In "We’ll Get to Now Later" Stan, a guilt-stricken white South African immigrant confronts his apartheid past when he meets a Zulu dancer traveling with a circus in the United States; in "Pig Day" Jared, an American teenager, accidentally kills his best friend Nick, the son of a Romanian immigrant, and is co-opted by the bereaved father to build a coffin; and in "A Sudden New City" Heila, a mentally frail and physically faltering white South African grandmother, drives a tractor into a black crowd as revenge for her husband Jacob’s infidelity across the color line.

The voices we hear in Saunders’s stories are male, female, young, old, American, South African, Romanian. In richly textured prose, they attest to moments as sublime as the music of the spheres or depict images of earth bound brutality bloody as a goat’s severed head on a pike. In the tradition of Nadine Goridmer and Norman Rush, but with its own sense of comedy and metaphor, Blessings on the Sheep Dog is a wizardly act of ventriloquism to listen to, relish, remember.

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From the Author:

…My book…tells stories of transplantation: like Bahrati Mukherjee in short stories such as "The Management of Grief" or "A Wife’s Story," I explore what happens to characters’ notions of identity and culture when they are displaced from a familiar environment to a new and different one. Several of my stories tackle the politically complex topic of apartheid from the perspective of characters who were raised to accept the system’s evil and heartbreak as normal and who then emigrate otherwise reach a point of understanding from where they re-evaluate their former convictions. No matter how far they travel or how much they learn, these characters never quite manage to escape their past. Instead, their new environments make them face the darkest truth about themselves: they are implicated in South Africa’s awful past and carry its ugliness with them into their new worlds. Even those who consciously distance themselves from their former prejudices, find themselves slipping into racism and violence when caught off guard.

What ties my stories together, regardless of how the characters became displaced, is the way people struggle with feelings too deep to articulate. By pondering what they know of astronomy, botany, anthropology, math, or music, the characters (and, I hope, the readers) reach moments of insight – if not comfort – about the alienating environments they find themselves in.

From the Inside Flap:

"Blessings on the Sheep Dog is a series of disturbing glimpses into a world inhabited by people who have been schooled in knowledge, efficiency, survival, loyalty to one’s own kind, but not love exactly—a rigorous curriculum that keeps them safe, just barely. And love’s absence persists like a ghost, a memory of a lost, better time."—Debra Monroe, author of The Source of Trouble and A Wild Cold State

"What I admire in Gerda Saunders’s fine first collection is its depth and versatility. Like an accomplished actress, she takes on the voices of men and women of different ages and nationalities with a pitch-perfect ear for the nuances of dialogue and thought. Saunders is a crafty storyteller, and her South African tales are captivating."—Enid Shomer, author of Imaginary Men

In "We’ll Get to Now Later," a guilt-stricken white South African immigrant confronts his apartheid past when he meets a Zulu dancer traveling with a circus in the United States. In "Pig Day," an American teenager accidentally kills his best friend Nick, the son of a Romanian immigrant, and is co-opted by the bereaved father to build Nick’s coffin. In "A Sudden New City," Heila, a frail and mentally faltering white South African grandmother, drives a tractor into a black crowd as revenge for her husband’s infidelity across the color line.

In the tradition of Nadine Gordimer and Norman Rush, but with its own sense of comedy and metaphor, Blessings on the Sheep Dog is a first work by a master storyteller.

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Saunders, Gerda
Published by Southern Methodist Univ Pr, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. (2002)
ISBN 10: 0870744682 ISBN 13: 9780870744686
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Book Description Southern Methodist Univ Pr, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A., 2002. Hard Back. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Printing. 200 Pages. This collection of stories moves from the violent world of apartheid South Africa to the supposed immigrant haven of the United States. It's characters tackle questions about connection, displacement, death, love, race and justice. writing about life in South Africa. The characters in the stories live through the struggles of a racially divided South Africa, the riots and release of Nelson Mandala. Some of the stories tell of characters who have left South Africa and are living in America, of South Africans who are on the verge of leaving, and of those who will never leave, no matter the consequence. Author's first story collection. Saunders emigrated to the United States from South Africa and she returned to school to complete a Ph.D. in English. Size: 6" x 9". Bookseller Inventory # 9304

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Saunders, Gerda
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Book Description Southern Methodist Univ Pr. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0870744682 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0459004

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Saunders, Gerda
Published by Southern Methodist Univ Pr (2002)
ISBN 10: 0870744682 ISBN 13: 9780870744686
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Book Description Southern Methodist Univ Pr, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110870744682

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