The Master's Ruse


The Master’s Ruse is cast as a masterclass in the creation of fiction, and as a memoir of authorship and conscience.

It is set in a future, speculative country during an apocalyptic time when the oceans have died and the earth’s fragile infrastructure is threatening to break.

The country is controlled by a military junta which has banned freedom of speech and literature.

The novel laments the desecration the natural world while at the same time considering the power of literature as a tool for peace.

The narrative voice belongs to an aging, banned author. She lives a solitary life on her farm, with just her servants, some miles from a capital city modelled on Budapest. Her only close friend is the professor under whom she studied years before the repression.

Despite the prohibitions, both she and the professor continue to write, albeit clandestinely, and meet regularly to discuss their works-in-progress and literature in general.

Notwithstanding the risk, she leads the reader through her home and into the intimate milieu from where she creates all her fictions.

The narrator and the professor discuss the concept of messianic energy, in relation to environmental degradation, and in relation to the lack of freedom in their lives.

An uninvited guest arrives to ripple the stillness of their worlds.

The denouement attempts to depict the power that an author wields when creating fiction. Instead it exposes the power that the fiction itself holds.




ISBN 978-1-874915-16-4
Published by African Sun Press
158 pages

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Afrikaans: Die Meester se Verdigsel

Translated by Willemien van der Walt
ISBN 978-0-620-63704-6
Published by African Sun Press
191 pages

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Swedish: Mästarens list

Translated by Aslög Pontara
ISBN 97 89186307 301
Published by Bokförlaget Tranan


“The Master’s Ruse has the texture and cadence of ancient fables.”
~ Deidre Donnelly, Oprah Magazine

“Schonstein confronts rock-hard issues with this dreamily allegorical, surreal, apocalyptic tale. Her writing is poetically appealing, clear and clever. She is fast becoming one of South Africa’s top writers.

Patricia Schonstein praat oor steenharde sake, soos die mens se verantwoordelikheid tot verset teen die vernietiging van die aarde en teen politieke diktatorskap. Die ¬apokaliptiese verhaal is droom¬agtig allegories, iewers in 'n ¬surrealistiese toekoms geplaas.”

~ Annemarié van Niekerk, Die Burger

“Even though Patricia does not shrink from exposing the dark and often terrifying realities of our society with utmost honesty, a thread of redemption, peace, hope and light weaves through her narrative.

Hoewel Patricia Schonstein nie huiwer om die donker en dikwels angswekkende realiteite van ons samelewing tot op die been oop te vlek nie, is dit terselfdertyd in haar boeke 'n realiteit wat konstant omflans en deurlig word deur die moontlikheid van redding, heling, vrede, uitsig, lig – in kort: die magiese towerkrag van verrassende nuwe moontlikhede, wendinge en ander onbekende en dikwels onverkende uitweë. Haar werke word daarom tereg ook as magiese realisme gekarakteriseer.”

~ Carel Anthonissen, Die Burger
“The Master’s Ruse, with its mystical aura and apocalyptic vision, is mesmerizing, poetic and beautifully written.”
~ Ute Ben Yosef, Librarian: Jacob Gitlin Library, Cape Town
“The Master’s Ruse is an intriguing, decoratively furnished novel.”
~ Gorry Bowes-Taylor, Fine Music Radio Book Choice, Cape Town
“The Master’s Ruse uses pared-down language to boldly tackle the big issues of environmental destruction and political dictatorship.”
~ Gillian Warren Brown BooksLive 27 October 2008
“A literary feast – colourful, lyrical, filmic, beautifully woven and beautifully visual.”
~ Nancy Richards, SABC
“The Master’s Ruse has a strong aura of timelessness and universality. Its probing of the novelist’s creative process is deeply illuminating. The author plays along the divide between fact and imagined truths in a complex, sometimes bewildering fashion, with narratives within narratives. Echoes of JM Coetzee abound.”
~ David Pike, The Sunday Times
“The Master’s Ruse is a unique addition to South African literature and as such should be widely read.”
~ Alex Smith, Books SA
“A challenging, surrealist narrative.”
~ Bronwen Dyke, The Big Issue
“Strong, elegant, original, intriguing, vivid and precise. The writing is textured and intense. I like the way it flirts with allegory.”
~ Roy Robins, Editor, New Contrast 2006
“Like an unspoilt African night sky, this futuristic and surrealistic novel is deep darkness studded with brilliant moments of light.”
~ Kate Dennil, The Citizen, 18 November 2009
“A sensational, stunning and gripping novel. A great piece of writing.”
~ David Friedland, Poet
“I salute you for The Master’s Ruse, for its rich language, for its inner and outer perspectives, for its courageous examination of the fault lines in the dynamic of our time.”
~ Lewis Watling, poet