Somewhere in South Africa, a farm comes under heavy attack. No shooters in sight. Only one thing is certain: The attackers are savagely resolute. A diverse group of people barricade themselves inside the farmhouse: black and white; women, men, and children; bosses and workers; a police officer; random visitors. Who is the target of the attack? What has motivated it? Politics? Revenge? Greed? Drugs? Weapons? But do the people outside know more than those indoors? The snipers who are trying to operate in the dark of night? Who will die, who will survive? Who is pulling the strings? Who will be the winners, who will be the losers? And how long can eight hours actually be?
Eight hours, minute by minute. Constant changes in perspective, piercing precision. An explosive mixture of psychological thriller and Neo-western with a political subtext.
A story that is set in South Africa revolving around a situation that realistically could take place anywhere. Max Annas has written a short novel dealing with a series of events that could very well be the depiction of a battle in a war. The plot involves a raid on a farm in South Africa and without immediately indicating the reason for the attack goes over the characters involved. These include the attackers and also the people at the farm that have to defend themselves from the onslaught. As in any military engagement there is no collective thinking about reasons, or questioning of why it occurred at that location and at the time it did.
Action begins as the owner of the farm is talking to a salesman that has been calling on him for a long time. Suddenly there is a shot from outside the perimeter of the farm killing the salesman. People living there and some visiting quickly gather together to adopt defensive positions and give out the guns that they have stored in case ever necessary. Mr. Annas has done an excellent job in telling his story at the same time that he describes the confusion that runs rampant. Those in the house which is where the defenders have gathered as well as the attackers outside wanting to break in.
The leader of the attackers knows why they are there and what they want, but none of his gang are privy to this and only are aware of the money they are promised at a successful conclusion for them. The defenders, including his family question the farm’s owner and he professes that there is really no hidden reason. There is an amount of cash, some jewelry and a few valuable items but nothing that could warrant an attack by the group that came against them.
Due to the area the farm is located in there is only sporadic cell phone service and main lines have been cut by the attackers. The police cannot be called and people living in the same area are too distant to hear the gunshots and become aware of the attack. The people inside the house come up with plans to sneak outside and creeping up on the marauders shoot them. The reactions of the raiders and those coming out after them are described and results and any knowledge of the results becomes problematic since the raid takes place in the dead of night with no lighting present.
The novel is a short one, and while in the definite category of an all nighter is finished in one very satisfying read. The novel is currently in process of being developed for filming in South Africa and should quite a draw on that basis as well.
10/2020 Paul Lane
THE FARM by Max Annas. Catalyst Press (September 15, 2020). ISBN: 978-1946395221. 184 pages.