Published October 2011
"Violence rendered things visible”, writes Denis Hirson in this beautifully crafted, musical story, which is as much about seeing how people lived at that time as it is about desire, loneliness and the desperate, blind need for revenge.
Lemon Street runs down-slope through a leafy, peaceful suburb of Johannesburg. It is early 1960. One resident of the street, a young widow, believes she has finally met the new man of her life. In a narrow room at the back of the garden, her maid impatiently awaits the arrival of her lover. Across the street, while his parents engage in yet another heated argument, a schoolboy dreams of a girl. And down past the willow trees at the bottom of the street this girl’s mother prepares a party to celebrate her twentieth wedding anniversary, which will hardly turn out as she expected.
Meanwhile, tremors run through South Africa. Hundreds of men die in the great Clydesdale mine disaster. There is an assassination attempt upon the Prime Minister, Dr Verwoerd. There is the Sharpeville Massacre, which will radically shape the political climate of the country, and permanently alter the lives of certain people on Lemon Street.