Photograph: Ana Brígida
Photograph: Ana Brígida

Elleke Boehmer is the author of the novels Screens against the Sky (shortlisted David Higham Prize, 1990), Bloodlines (shortlisted SANLAM prize, 2000), Nile Baby (2008) and The Shouting in the Dark (2015; co-winner Olive Schreiner prize, 2015–18), as well as the short-story collection Sharmilla and Other Portraits (2010). To the Volcano, her second short story collection, appeared in 2019. The story ‘Supermarket Love’ was commended for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize. Her fiction probes the delicate interface between our private and public selves in haunting and unforgettable ways.

She is also Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford, and a founding figure in the field of postcolonial literature. Her edition of Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys was a 2004 summer bestseller, and her acclaimed biography of Nelson Mandela (2008) has been translated into Arabic, Malaysian, Thai, Kurdish, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. She has published several other books including Stories of Women (2005), the anthology Empire Writing (1998), Indian Arrivals: Networks of British Empire (2015), and Postcolonial Poetics (2018).

Visit her University of Oxford English Faculty page »

The Shouting in the Dark

The Shouting in the Dark

Op de verandaUWAP The Shouting in the DarkPublished by Sandstone Press (UK), Cossee (Netherlands), Jacana (South Africa), 2015; UWA Press (Australia), 2019

Co-winner: triennial Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose, 2018

Longlisted: Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, 2016

Late at night Ella watches her elderly father on the verandah, raging at the African sky. Caught between her mother’s mysterious grief and her father’s shattering wartime experiences, between the Holland of their past and apartheid South Africa, Ella fights hard to make it through her childhood in one piece. Her one enchantment is her forbidden love for the teenage gardener, Phineas. Years later, seeking political refuge in the Netherlands, Ella discovers her father never registered her birth. Now she must confront her father’s ghosts, and create a new future for herself.

The story, as disturbing as it is enthralling, of a girl’s struggle to emerge from under the dead weight of her father’s oppression while at the same time searching for a secure footing in the moral chaos of South Africa of the apartheid era. 

—J. M. Coetzee


A secret duel to the death between a father and a daughter.  Distilled with an intimate sense of history, and very moving,The Shouting in the Dark is a powerful novel of memory, family politics and awakening.

—Ben Okri


Boehmer’s The Shouting in the Dark … mirrors and mines the affective charge of a South African cultural and public life now avowedly post-TRC and shaped by new orders of private and public feeling, force and anger.

—Sarah Nuttall, Books Live


The Shouting in the Dark is a text that seems to be written through the mists of memory. Boehmer’s language is feathery – barely touching the surface of her stories, pregnant with things left unsaid.

—Zoe Norridge, Wasafiri 85 (Spring 2016)

Read more about the novel