The Beneficiaries

“The memory comes from the private space – the most private – secluded behind the scars of concealment, the not-speaking of it. She has never spoken about it to anyone.”

It is 1998. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is trying to make sense of over 30 years of human rights violations. In London, Lally, a white South African émigré, goes to dinner with Pim, a long-forgotten childhood friend, and his English family.

For Lally, adult existence has remained transient, uprooted: a life of little consequence estranged from its own origins. But it is becoming clear that history will reach out, even to the inconsequential, and for Lally to seek out the truths of the child she must breach the hermetic safety of adult refuge.

Exploring the relationship between memory, forgetting and denial, South African author Sarah Penny explores the many versions of the truth that can ultimately lead to healing.


'Very atmospheric' - The Herald

'A work of grace and elegance' - Sunday Times


Shortlisted for The Sunday Times Fiction Award



Publication Date

September 2019


The Beneficiaries on the Valley Press website