Sindiwe Magona writes this novel when she discovers that Stanford student and Fulbright Scholar, Amy Biehl, who was killed in South Africa leading up to the nation's first democratic election, died just a few yards away from her own home in Cape Town.
Magona learned that one of the boys held responsible for Amy Biehl's murder was in fact her neighbor's son and began to imagine how easily it might have been her own son caught up in the wave of violence that day.
The book is based on this real-life incident, and takes the form of an epistle to Amy Biehl's mother with Magona writing in the voice of the murder's mother, Mandisa.
"My son killed your daughter. People look at me as though I did it. The generous ones as though I made him do it."
Mandisa writes about her life, the life of her child, and the colonized society that not only allowed, but perpetuated violence against women and impoverished black South Africans under the reign of apartheid. The result is not an apology for the murder, but a beautifully written exploration of the society that bred the violence that led to the events of Biehl's murder.