Yesterday I met Andrea Durbach, and heard the story of how she came to write her first book, known as "Upington" in Australia, the UK and South Africa, and "A Common Purpose" in the States. The book covers the legal trial of 25 people found guilty, under the common purpose doctrine, of the murder of one policeman:
In 1985, as protests in the black townships escalated, a crowd assembled one day to discuss grievances in the remote rural town of Upington and was attacked by the police. In retaliation, some marched to the home of a black policeman, dragged him outside, and set him on fire. In the first trial that ensued, 25 were found guilty of murder, which under the prevailing legal system automatically carried the death penalty. In 1988, Durbach was asked by charismatic attorney Anton Lubowski to help with the appeal.
Kirkus Review, via Amazon.com
Listening to people who have been a part of such large stories always makes me feel both inspired and empowered, and at the same time somehow a little bit smaller.