The novel tells the story, in the first person, of a young black male ex-student's obsession with a young English woman, Veronica Slater, whom he encounters on the segregated Durban beachfront. It is the heyday of apartheid. Although not a word is exchanged, a strong erotic bond develops between the two of them, culminating in what is later seen as a rape and for which the narrator gets the death sentence. In an absolute tour de force the narrator, only ever referred to as Mr Sibiya, waiting to be executed, writes down his story - reconstructing bit by bit not only his own and a brief history of his family, but also his obsession with the white girl, the court proceedings, and his encounters with Dr Dufre, a Swiss criminologist who has been granted permission of compile a dossier of the case. One of the most remarkable things about the novel is the narrator's ability to be objective, to view himself and the series of events almost dispassionately.