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LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2012. An unforgettable story of a woman determined to find her freedom - set in South Africa in 1830s, as slavery was about to be abolished.

The year is 1832 and the Cape is rife with rumours about the liberation of slaves. Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master.
Francois has reneged on his promise to set her free and his father has ordered him to marry a white woman from a prominent family, selling Philida on to owners in the harsh country in the north. Unwilling to accept this fate, Philida tests the limits of her freedom by setting off on a journey. She travels across the great wilderness to the far north of Cape Town - determined to survive and be free.



A compelling and memorable novel

Alex Clark, Guardian

Rich and complex

Paul Dunn, The Times

In the hands of Mr Brink, one of South Africa’s most famous novelists, the land breathes, it feels alive

The Economist

Philida is a very powerful novel

Michael Arditti, Daily Mail

A moving story of one woman’s struggle against hierarchies of race and gender that seek her absolute subjugation, Philida vividly dramatises the courage required to lay claim to the protections of the law, to speak out for ones rights even in the moment in which the law is on the wrong side of history

Patrick Flannery, Daily Telegraph

Brink tells this grand-guignol tale in harrowing style

Christopher Bray, Daily Express

A poignant tale of a slave woman's quest for liberation set in 19th century Cape Town

Glass Magazine

Mixing brutal historical fact with legend, the novel paints a fine picture of a disintegrating society

Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday

Philida is a unique, illuminating and original book…utterly engaging

Chris Dolan, Herald

Brink writes beautiful prose, peppered with evocative descriptions of historic and often tragic Cape life

Regional Press (syndicated review)

Brink writes beautiful prose peppered with evocative descriptions of historic and often tragic Cape life

Zahra Saeed, Irish Examiner

Brink's act of literary ventriloquism in Philida - his summoning of the voice of an illiterate slave-girl from the 1830s, in all its demotic sophistication and expressiveness - is undeniably astounding

Kevin Power, Sunday Business Post

An unforgettable story of one woman’s determination to survive and be free

GQ magazine

The light and shade that Brink has skillfully introduced into his augmented family history make for a compelling and memorable novel

Alex Clark, Guardian


The Lady

[A] rich and unforgettable story

Lancashire Evening Post

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 1, 2013


    320 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 31, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    320 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by André Brink

A Fork in the Road
The Blue Door
Praying Mantis
Before I Forget
The Other Side Of Silence
The Rights Of Desire
The Wall Of The Plague
Devil's Valley
The First Life of Adamastor
Imaginings Of Sand
Chain Of Voices
On The Contrary
Rumours Of Rain
An Act Of Terror
Looking On Darkness
Dry White Season
Instant In The Wind


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
Echo Burning
A Gentleman in Moscow
Best Laid Plans
Fool Me Once
The Golden House
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Swing Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Girls
Cold Blood
Fifty Shades Darker
The Trip of a Lifetime
The Light Between Oceans
Ready Player One