Schoeman's expert characterisation provides a human conduit to a wider consideration of South African history. Following the lives of several members of four generations of the same family, this is a story partly of suffering and partly of reflection and, accordingly, reconciliation. Prose is elegiac and hyptic, drawing the reader into a narrative that at first glance appears concerned only with the quotidian but which gradually lures the reader into grappling with the major themes of post-apartheid South African life.
Karel Schoeman, one of South Africa's most celebrated writers, is the author of eighteen novels and numerous historical works. In 1961 he joined the order of the Franciscans in Ireland, but was released from his vows and turned to library science. Schoeman has worked as a librarian in Amsterdam and South Africa, and has translated several world literary classics into Afrikaans. In 1999 he was one of only two living South African writers to be honored with a State President's Award by Nelson Mandela. His has received many literary awards including: the Hertzog Prize in 1970, 1986 and 1995; the SAUK Prize for African TV dramas 1990; the Stals Prize for Cultural History 1997; and the Louis Hiemstra Prize for non fiction 2002. Elsa Silke is a translator, editor and lecturer. In 2006, she was awarded the SATI/Via Afrika Prize for her translation of Karel Schoeman's This Life. She lives in the Strand, South Africa.