The protaganist, James Kronk, returns from exile to his homeland of South Africa where his mother lies slowly dying. This is the trigger which stimulates James to examine his past life, both as a child growing up in South Africa and as a young man in exile in Great Britain, where he has worked as a failed film director, working on soft pornography and political films for the National Party.
However, James finally begins to feel as if he has a place in this small town, especially when he gains a windfall of a substantial amount of money left to him by his father, who left for America many years earlier to live with his mistress. He uses the cash to buy himself a farm whereby he can make honey and set up a small cafe. He also inherits a baboon, with which he forms a firm friendship, and attempts to come to the aid of a family of Xhosa living in a wooden shack close to the beach. The young son , it is found, is carrying HIV.
Just as life finally seems to be reaching a level point for James, who has made friends in the town, taken up golf and begun an intense relationship with a local woman, Valerie, one problem after another plagues him. Valerie becomes obsessive and wants more commitment, which he is unwilling to give. She is, in any case, having an affair with his best friend, the lawyer Pennington. The Xhosa family are not accepted by the other black residents on the farm, who do not understand the young boy's illness. To punish James, they destroy his beehives and then lock the boy (Zwalekhe) in the cage with the baboon, Piet, who savagely attacks him. Following Zwalekhe's death, James is forced to murder Piet, as he is not accepted by other wild baboons and so cannot live in the mountains.
Finally, Kronk must give up the farm he loves, after valuable resources are discovered there. He returns to London, alone.
The book charts the problems faced by an individual upon return to his own homeland, the struggle to find a new position for himself, and the ultimate rejection he faces, whereby all his good intentions amount to nothing. He is exiled, an outsider, a stranger on the fringes of society wherever he might go.
This report prepared by James Leigh