‘Brave … ambitious … [a story of] admirable people, brave in the face of unbearable poverty and determined to rise out of it … [Fairbanks’s characters] are also capable of savage introspection and, at times, willing to laugh about themselves.’ – Rian Malan, Compact Magazine
A dozen years in the making, The Inheritors weaves together the stories of three ordinary South Africans over five tumultuous decades in a sweeping and exquisite look at what really happens when a country resolves to end white supremacy: political activist Dipuo, who fought to take down history’s strictest segregationist system; Dipuo’s daughter Malaika, who excels brilliantly after segregation’s collapse but wrestles with her relationship to her mother and her duty to her country; and Christo, one of the last White South Africans drafted to fight for apartheid as it crumbled around him.
All three and many other had to remake their own lives while facing huge questions: What do we owe to history? And what will people who care about being good do when the meaning of right action changes nearly overnight?
Observing subtle truths about race and power that extend well beyond national borders, Fairbanks explores questions that preoccupy so many of us today: How can we let go of our pasts, as individuals and as countries? How should historical debts be paid? And how can a person live an honorable life in a society that – for better or worse – they no longer recognise?
EVE FAIRBANKS is a former political writer for The New Republic. Her work focuses on change: in cities, countries, landscapes, morals, values, and our ideas of ourselves. She has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Guardian, among other outlets. Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Virginia, she’s lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, for thirteen years. The Inheritors is her first book.