Winner of the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
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.
Dipuo grew up on the south side of a mine dump that segregated Johannesburg’s black townships from the white-only city. Some nights, she hiked to the top. To a South African teenager in the 1980s—even an anti-apartheid activist like Dipuo—the divide that separated her from the glittering lights on the other side appeared eternal. But in 1994, the world’s last explicit racial segregationist regime collapsed to make way for something unprecedented.
With penetrating psychological insight, intimate reporting, and bewitching prose, The Inheritors tells the story of a country in the throes of a great reckoning. Through the lives of Dipuo, her daughter Malaika, and Christo—one of the last white South Africans drafted to fight for the apartheid regime—award-winning journalist Eve Fairbanks probes what happens when people once locked into certain kinds of power relations find their status shifting. Observing subtle truths about race and power that extend well beyond national borders, she 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 recognize?