Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wessel Ebersohn's "The October Killings" & "Those Who Love Night"

Wessel Ebersohn is an internationally published author who was born and lives in South Africa.

Here he dreamcasts adaptations of his recent novels, The October Killings and Those Who Love Night:
These two thrillers have the same central characters, Yudel Gordon and Abigail Bukula, but the settings are very different. The October Killings takes place in South Africa, a country where utilities work and much of the population lives by the standards of developed countries. The future is still uncertain but, for now, things function and human rights are observed.

Those Who Love Night, on the other hand, takes place in Zimbabwe, a dictatorship where the electric power comes and goes without warning, where traffic lights only work intermittently and where only the well-heeled shop in supermarkets. For the impoverished majority life is a continual struggle for survival.

Of the two central characters, Yudel Gordon, has been around longer than Abigail, having appeared in three earlier books without Abigail. He is ageing, Jewish, very intelligent and intuitive. His strengths are balanced by surprising vulnerability. He sometimes lacks confidence, but makes up for this, by great tenacity.

If I could choose an actor to play him Al Pacino would be my choice. Pacino possesses the subtlety and sensitivity, underlain by strength, that would be needed to do justice to Yudel. He is also about the right age and build. His obvious intelligence means that he would not have to pretend it. His many great performances speak for themselves.

Thandie Newton is my Abigail. Like Abigail she is very good looking, but she is more than that. The real sophistication that she projects would be perfect for Abigail. It would also not hurt that she was born African, in fact a Zimbabwean. And of course she is a great actress. Especially her portrayal of Jefferson’s Sally sticks in the mind.

It seems to me that playing the villain must be at least as hard as playing a hero. The villain in The October Killings is not seen very often, but the part is vital. Someone is needed who can convey his torments without over-acting. I think Edward Norton would be wonderful in the part.

Jonas Chunga, Abigail’s Nemesis in Those Who Love Night, is really a creature of circumstance. He has become a powerful figure in the security apparatus of the dictatorship. The part requires an intelligent actor with a naturally strong presence. I would choose Lawrence Fishburne. He has the look and the ability for this demanding part.

If I could choose the director I would have to ask for Clint Eastwood. His transformation from just another action hero to arguably the greatest director in films today is simply astonishing. I think particularly of Mystic River and Changeling as reflecting the sense that my stories would need. I think the man is a genius of his medium.

If I could not get Eastwood, I would look for Alan Parker. I admire all his work, but his style in The Life of David Gale would also be perfect for my books. He too is a truly great exponent of his art.
Learn more about the books and author at Wessel Ebersohn's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The October Killings.

--Marshal Zeringue