Local folkloor had it that only people with troubled pasts ended up in his forlorn harbour but Captain Sylvester Nunes also brought a terrible future. Arriving at an unnamed South African port, Nunes, a customs official, is determined to uncover the dark, criminal secret he is certain lies at its heart. This consuming obsession drives him to enforce a repressive regime - and his untiring interrogations uncover a miscellany of bizarre and bewildering stories.
Also available in French from Editions du Seuil
‘The Powers That Be comes as a considerable and enjoyable shock… The authorial voice is powerful and original. The world of the village, with its claustrophobia and flashes of magical revelation, is realised with impressive intensity. Magical realism has come to South Africa’ – Bryan Appleyard, The Times
‘Mr Nicol spins a parable about the perils of commodity fetishism that is at least as compelling as the more pointed allegory about the apartheid state… A fiercely lyrical first novel… with a sure moral centre’ William Finnegan, The New York Times Book Review