Asylum story

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

asylum story is a short literary novel set in South Africa in the year 2019. The protagonist is infected with a deadly new respiratory disease and being held in a quarantine facility near a fictional town in the Karoo. The novel spans a six-month period during which the protagonist becomes involved in an ultimately failed attempt to escape. The novel is partly inspired by the Department of Health's decision in 2007 to place patients with drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis into quarantine. Many patients died in this enforced captivity. Conditions in some facilities were reportedly very poor and in 2008 there was a high-profile escape from the Jose Pearson quarantine facility. Though the disease in the novel is not drug-resistant tuberculosis, it is something similar, and the response to the fictional disease is comparable in some ways to the real-life medical response to the TB scare. The novel is set in a universe that is similar but different to our own, allowing the exploration of universal themes without the constraint of a rigid representation of current reality.

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