You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr


A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers - a century apart - must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.

Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he's turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they 'make men out of boys.' Guaranteed.

The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.




An Observer, Guardian, Financial Times, Sunday Times South Africa, Irish Times,Irish Independent, Big Issue and Strong Words Pick of the Year


“A gripping, heartbreaking tale of uncomfortable histories and the resilience of love” –  GRAHAM NORTON, 


“Funny, tender, and heartbreaking ... A gifted storyteller” –  INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY


“Skilfully interweaves interlocking stories from the Boer War and contemporary South Africa as it unflinchingly brings the horrors of hidden colonial history into the light of day and shows how hurt seeps down the generations” –  Anita Sethi, Scotland on Sunday


“Devastating and formally ingenious, it traces the paths by which historical grief engenders present violence … A vitally brave and luminously compassionate book” –  GARTH GREENWELL, 


  • Details

    Imprint: Bloomsbury

    Publication Date: April 2020

    ISBN: 9781408886052

    Pages: 352

    Type: Paperback

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