The novel Who Killed Piet Barol? is a revelation in many senses. Not only is it enlightening in terms of SA history, but it is beguiling in a way that pays tribute to the storytelling finesse of its award-winning author, Richard Mason. This work, his latest in a collection of interrelated stories, inspires me to make more time to read for my own pleasure. But this is not a book review. It’s an account of an interview I had with the author that, after a solid hour, yielded exactly two words in my notebook: Oscar Wilde. Neither Mason nor I can recall the reference, and it was written down before I switched on my voice recorder. If you watch Mason recount the background to the book on YouTube you might understand something of his magic. Despite being a natural storyteller, he says he was surprised that anyone even read his first novel, The Drowning People. Written at the age of 21, it propelled him into the spotlight, a position he doesn’t like much and tries to limit to every five yea...

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