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The Third Reel


Twenty-two-year-old Etienne is studying film in London, having fled conscription in his native South Africa. It is 1986, the time of Thatcher, anti-apartheid campaigns and Aids, but also of postmodern art, post-punk rock, and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

When Etienne finds the first of three reels of a German film from the 1930s, he begins searching for the missing reels, a project that turns into an obsession when his lover disappears in Berlin. It is while navigating the city divided by the Wall that Etienne gradually pieces together the history of a small group of Jewish filmmakers in Nazi Germany.

Ambitious and cosmopolitan, the material of S. J. Naudé’s The Third Reel is as disparate as the cities in which the book is set. Cinematography, sex, illness, loss and love all collide in this exquisitely wrought, deeply affecting novel.

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