On March 13, the Libraries’ featured author Lisa Fugard in a talk about her courageous first novel, Skinner’s Drift, at the Libraries’ annual Literary Luncheon. The event was held at the lovely Corona del Mar home of Doreen Hamburger, who prepared a delicious meal for an engaged group of Library Partners and friends.
Skinner’s Drift is a remarkably accomplished first novel about a deeply troubled white family living on a remote farm along the increasingly dangerous South African border with Botswana at the end of the apartheid era. It is unsparing but empathetic in its portrayal of its characters, both blacks and whites, and in its sensitivity to the complicated loyalties that divide and unite South African society.
Author Lisa Fugard
Born in South Africa, Fugard is the daughter of the great South African playwright Athol Fugard. She came to the United States in 1980 and worked in the theater, performing in New York, London and South Africa, until she turned her attention to writing. Published in 2006, Skinner’s Drift was named a notable book of 2006 by the New York Times, a finalist for the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and the runner-up for the 2007 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
Fugard spoke about the veil of fiction and how easy it is for her to explore characters far removed from her own experience. “ I loved writing about the African family - Lefu, Nkele and her son Mpho,” she said. “It felt like a gift to step into their lives. Eva was far more challenging. She’s 28, a white woman with complex emotions about her country, a bit too much like me, and I often felt mute when it came to writing her chapters. Finally I tricked myself by changing Eva to Evan, making her a male character, because I felt otherwise I was writing about myself. That odd change gave me the sense of privacy I needed to reveal Eva’s shame and pain. The chapters spilled out and barely required revision.”
Fugard lives in Southern California and is working on her second novel.
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