Shades of Exodus

Shades of Exodus, a novel by Barry Levy, Interactive Press, an imprint of IP (Interactive Publications)

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Shades of Exodus revolves around the true story of a South African family who flee the violence of South Africa only to fall victim to a vicious and bloody crime in Australia.

Once an outspoken critic of apartheid, David Levinrad now longs to return to the transformed ‘rainbow nation.’ His yearnings, heightened through life-changing events, takes us on a journey that tears at the soul and exposes our common humanity.

Is paradise always what it seems? And is there ever a way back?

Barry Levy

Barry Levy is a former South African journalist who moved with his Australian wife and two children to Australia in 1984 because of their abhorrence of apartheid. In 2004 Levy had his first fiction novel published – Burning Bright, a story of young love, hate and child abuse, which is also available in Italian. Levy has been a winner of the Australian Human Rights Award for Journalism—for a multiple series of stories on child sex abuse, domestic violence and homelessness; a winner of the Anning Barton Memorial Award for Outstanding Journalism (Central Queensland)—for a series of stories on child sex abuse (incest-rape), and a Walkley Awards Queensland State finalist—for his series on homelessness.


In the cold wind there is no choice but for Gordon and me to spend a night with the kids out here, in the stroking but uncaring breeze, while Mick and Mum cool off, sort through another lost Saturday night. Everything so dark and groggy.

We seek them out, our homies, our bros, under the bridge, by the river in the Ipswich dark, and then as if of one large mind, like a single huge brain cell, hungry and in search of things to do we go seeking through the suburbs looking to fill our bellies and have some good, honest to God fun. Scouring the neighbourhood for targets.

And now we are here, all of us kids, in the blackness of someone else’s home, afraid to switch on the lights, but warm and comfortable in a way we can’t be in our own artificially lit homes. Seeing for the thousandth time that we have eyes that can see in the dark. Yes, it is true. It is the way we grew up. We did not need chandeliers or bed lights or even torches. We were brought up as marsupials. Our lives were the night. We bathed in it, drank in it, shat in it, ate in it. And it gives us a paradoxical kind of freedom. A kind of control. Superiority over our superiors. They say that you need light to dispel darkness. But the reality, we have found, is the other way around. Freedom lies in darkness, under covers, far from the seeing eye, from the light of day. Darkness dispels reality, the imprisonment that day imposes, that keeps you scattered, skulking, out of shit, out of the way. Darkness, as me and Gordon and the rest have found and see now, gives you a bond, like a huge connecting shadow, like right now in this house, in this rich, middle class home, no this palace, this palace filled with security and fermented spirits and chandeliers and books—books that we will never read, books that we can tear out of their shelves and covers and throw to the ground, books that we can rip into shreds without giving it a second thought, books that we can destroy to teach our teachers, our parents, city aldermen, state authorities, government handlers, supervisors, yes, all the supervisors of the world, imposed on us, who think we are just hoons, scum, dirty gravel of the earth.

Yes, we are all of those things: dirty, brown, thick gravel; we have been told so many times, even in the mess of our own grey-brown homes, and yet it is like a song, a requiem, a top of the pops blockbuster, a hip-hop street poem that fires our blood, that lights our minds with neon dreams, this drinking rich people’s grog, slinging their books and plates and vases across shiny lounge floors, ripping with pen-knives and bread knives into soft, tempting couches that you want to sleep on, so desperately want to rest your head and sleep on, that you want to spend your entire life on, that you want to die on. Yes, it is like a heavy metal, twisted steel guitar that sings inside you, that makes you feel kind of full, alive. Worth something at last. That makes you dance an Irish fling with Gordon, your brother, who has saved you yet again.

And I am singing, I think even with him hearing me, ‘Thank you, buddy. Thank you, bro.’

And he is swinging me round him, like when we were kids, except our own lounge was never quite big enough, right in the thick of this lusciousness, this impromptu Saturday night party that began with the promise of a family night of pizza and videos, and ends with this—me letting him pour a drink of something that cuts like razors down my shaking throat, seeing the curtains in front of me coming down, falling, tumbling on our heads. Ripped loose like falling screws from the walls, eight-foot high, at least, feeling that pure soft satin finish flouncing round my head, the kids in this new covered warmth embracing me in laughter, soft then loud, bowel biting, angry. But close, comforting.

Me, Gordon, Jamie, Kelly, clutching onto one another, hugging like children in movies of Christmas morning, a family, a happy family beneath these drapes. We, a family sheltering in that light that only darkness can bring, that special uninhibited intimacy, the dark glue that casts us together. Brings joy to the world. Lights up trees. And streets. And other people’s rooms.

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Ebook, PB


ePub, mobi(kindle), PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 9 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Themes of exile and longing for home have been elements of literature as far back as Homer and The Odyssey. And world history has been fundamentally shaped by the often forced exodus of people from their homeland and displacement around the globe, such as the Jewish Diaspora and, in the nineteenth century, the Irish emigration to the New World of America and Australia. Shades of Exodus explores these themes in the context of a contemporary displacement, that of white South Africans leaving their country before and after the end of apartheid.

    David Levinrad is a South African journalist so disturbed by the systematic violence and corruption of the apartheid regime that he emigrates to Queensland with his Australian wife Penny and their two young children in the mid-1980s. There they build a new and reasonably contented life in the suburbs of Brisbane, but the vitality and pulse of life in his homeland calls to something visceral within David, such that the urge to return and contribute to the rebuilding of South Africa becomes a vital force whose urgency he finds both difficult to suppress and to communicate to others.

    He comes into contact with more recent South African émigrés, families who have fled what they see as the entrenched problems of AIDS, poverty and violence that have been unleashed in the wake of end of white rule. The clash between these different perspectives is underscored by two acts of brutal and murderous violence: one in South Africa that has influenced the departure of one family; the second involving the daughter of one of the emigrant families in suburban Brisbane, suggesting that such crimes can happen anywhere.

    This is an important novel of interest not only to emigrant families but all of us who have been influenced in one way of another by the displacement of people into alien environments. The language is richly poetic in conveying the vital forces and connections that give one a sense of belonging. The struggles of the characters to make sense of their experiences and relate them to others make for a compelling narrative. Shades of Exodus constitutes a highly recommended contribution to a universal quest.”
    – Dr Geoff Danaher, Idiom 23 (Central Queensland University)

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Captures the emotions of loss and rebuilding with poetic insight. SHADES OF EXODUS will resonate with all migrants – South Africans in particular – who have battled with themes of meaning, relationships, sense of place, and personal identity as they have moved to new worlds.”
    – Dr Robert Schweitzer
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    Queensland University of Technology
    (and a migrant)

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Just wanted to say thank you so much for such a wonderful read! It is a really beautiful story – and very thought-provoking. For me, this is underscored by David Levinrad’s story towards the end. I really felt like I was in his head and following his stream of thoughts. “Bladdy” well done!”
    – Angelique Oltvolgyi

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Congratulations. The book you have written truly conveys the complexities of feelings we, immigrants, feel here in Brisbane. Written with total objectivity, and really putting it all out there. A really good read!”
    – Anita Wurfl

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Shades of Exodus tells the true story of a South African family who flee the violence of South Africa only to fall victim to a vicious and bloody crime in Australia.

    The novel centres on David Levinrad, once an outspoken critic of apartheid. He now longs to return to the transformed rainbow nation.

    His yearnings, heightened
    through life-changing events, tear at the soul and expose everyone’s common humanity.”
    – Australian Jewish News

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “I have found your book a most compelling read. I appreciate the depth of feeling… the transparency… and honesty.”
    – Ruth Kapernick

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “I think Shades of Exodus is beautifully written and I know the Segals, the Gersons and the Levinrads, I’ve heard their conversations and spoken some of their sentences myself! There is also an echo of Alan Paton and I remember the rolling African phrases and the subtle things that make a nation of people feel comfortable with each other, at home. Like all good books, Shades of Exodus made me think. I thought about David and his yearning for ‘home’. And Hannah and how she couldn’t come to terms with her new country. And what happened to Miriam… Your book touched many nerves! I think it is honest and brave and congratulate you on it.”
    – Daphne Tuttle, author

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “If I had your gift for writing I would put into words how I feel, but I can only say, WOW, WHEW, this book is amazingly written and so close to the bone.”
    – Amanda Shrock

    July 20, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Shades of Exodus had elements of being my own autobiography. So many thoughts, sentiments, passions and yearning for the place once called home…..could one ever really feel the lucky country is home? Could one ever feel completely oneself here? These are questions I don’t have an answer for?… Shades of Exodus has provided an intriguing and heart-warmingly enlightening read mixed with great depth and passion of the pulling forces between what is and what was… and many thoughts that had vaguely transcended my mind were there in printed form… The details and humour describing the personalities and their interaction was quite remarkable and entertaining… but also with the rather confronting but necessary parts of the book, I felt the fear and denial… All in all, congratulations on a deeply significant and most readable book.”
    – Glenda Fehler

    July 20, 2023

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