OWL Magazine Korea

“Beverley Naidoo’s Story of South Africa”

“South Africa” is a space unfamiliar to us, known only by name. It’s a lesser-known territory to us, and encountering the works of a writer from such a country is not easy.

“Out Of Bounds,” written by Beverley Naidoo, is a novel based on the author’s actual experiences, albeit presented in a fictional narrative.

If we were to compare it, it might evoke a similar feeling to James Joyce’s “Dubliners” or Korea’s “Scenery of the Thousands of Rivers and Mountains.”

“Apartheid: The Scars of Segregation in South African History”

Just as Korea is divided into North and South, South Africa also experienced the pain of segregation through the policy of apartheid, an Afrikaans word meaning “separation.”

It was a policy of legal discrimination enacted by the minority white population against the majority black and colored (mixed-race) population of South Africa.

It’s a painful legacy of the imperialist era. While we may have encountered the term “apartheid” in news or history, it’s impressive to find a novel that reveals such content, prompting me to read a book titled “Out Of Bounds” about South Africa. The original English title of this book is “Out Of Bounds.”

“A Novel Composed of 7 Short Stories”

The book vividly portrays the socio-political discrimination brought about by the apartheid policy. It depicts the discrimination between whites, indigenous Africans, and colored individuals, the construction of a society for whites, and the gradual progress toward equality in a society built for whites.

Though it’s structured as a novel, the historical events depicted in the book are factual, so one might consider it a novel based on the real history of South Africa.

The book consists of a total of seven small stories. Each story features different characters and settings, and there’s an approximately ten-year gap between each story.


The first story, set in the backdrop of 1948, portrays how Dutch settlers in South Africa established their status and treated indigenous inhabitants through the eyes of a young girl named Veronica.


The second story, set in 1955, depicts how apartheid policies discriminate against blacks, coloreds, Asians, and whites through the eyes of a young boy. The main narrative focuses on the story of a colored family forced to relocate due to whites encroaching on their livelihood.

“The whites surrounded us, corralled us in.”

“I waited under the ‘Non-European’ sign at the bus stop for ages. … We watched as several empty buses clattered past us, stopping a little way down at the White’s Only bus stop. Just to pick up a few people… When I was younger, I’d be allowed to sit on the back seat upstairs on the white buses, when I was following Mum on her rounds. But that was all over now.”

This story revolves around the experiences of a mixed-race child caught between whites and blacks. It deals with the procedures and criteria for distinguishing between coloreds and blacks. It depicts the privileges enjoyed when classified as white, some privileges retained when classified as colored, and the complete loss of privileges when classified as black.

“Lilly, Lilly Someday…”

In the third story, “Lilly, Lilly Someday…,” distortion of truth by adults and the portrayal of blacks as criminals are depicted through the eyes of a white child named Lilly.

Additionally, the story indirectly suggests that Lilly’s parents are supporting an effort to restore the rights of blacks. It’s a story of people resisting white supremacy and those attempting change and reform.

“Typewriter, Gun”

The fourth and fifth stories, “Typewriter” and “Gun,” set in 1976 and 1985, respectively, depict how blacks actively confront discrimination. The white ruling class fires upon black demonstrators and violently opposes blacks seeking equality and peaceful protests. In “Gun,” the narrative shifts to depict blacks gradually resorting to violent struggle, moving away from peaceful demonstrations.

This reminded me of Japan’s colonial rule era in Korea. The transition from peaceful protests to violent ones, the establishment of independence fighters, and the use of force against Japan bear a resemblance in context.

“School Playground”

The sixth story, “School Playground,” set in 1995, portrays the gradual improvement in conditions as laws discriminating against black education are repealed. It shows how blacks are eventually able to attend schools previously reserved for whites.

Rosie and her mother, two black characters in the story, decide to send Rosie, the black girl, to a white school for the first time. Despite instances of harassment by white children towards Rosie, a white friend from her childhood intervenes and saves her from danger, concluding the story.

“Over the Wall”

In the final story, “Over the Wall,” the story of a white boy and a girl living in a slum is depicted. While their parents exhibit suspicion toward each other, the children’s perspectives seem different.

When a black boy named Solani from the slums comes to ask for water in a hurry, Rohan, a wealthy white boy, is hesitant to let him in, as instructed by his parents. However, he eventually opens the door and allows Solani to fetch water. Furthermore, Rohan helps Solani carry the water jug. Following Solani into the black residential area, Rohan experiences internal conflict in an unfamiliar environment, but there’s a sense of something being felt when he sees the black residential area up close.

Solani, who received help from Rohan, returns Rohan safely home, and the story ends as Rohan discovers a “Mercedes Benz with a wire fence” that Solani likely left behind the next morning.

“A History of Pain Unraveled Through the Eyes of Children, Not Adults”

What’s unique about the book is that, although each chapter diverges with various historical events as backgrounds, it doesn’t revolve around adults but rather portrays these scenes through the eyes of children.

Through the innocent eyes of children, it presents scenes without bias, offering a more vivid portrayal of events, and the presentation style shines even more. Through the eyes of children, it directly shows segregation, conflict, and bleak situations.

“Nelson Mandela, Advocate for Peace and Reconciliation”

One cannot speak of South Africa’s history without mentioning Nelson Mandela. In 1993, Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid.

He spent 27 years in prison for resisting past African racial discrimination. However, upon his release, he advocated not for bloodshed but for “reconciliation.” Thanks to his call, a new government was established, avoiding excessive turmoil and founding a government based on forgiveness and reconciliation.

While we may have encountered the apartheid policy and past news and history, reading a novel brings a more vivid experience of the scene. Ultimately, these points underscore the importance of literary works.

“Out of Bounds: A Story of South Africa”

  • Author: Beverley Naidoo
  • Publication Date: July 10, 2007
  • ISBN13: 9788992263023
  • Publisher: Munsang Publishing
  • Yes24: http://app.ac/6bM2PAl43