Blessings on the Sheep Dog (Hardcover)


By Gerda Saunders

Southern Methodist University Press, 9780870744686, 256pp.

Publication Date: April 30, 2002



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," 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.