The Dream House

The Dream House Study Guide

The Dream House is one of South African novelist and playwright Craig Higginson's most popular novels. Published in 2015, it was adapted from a play of his entitled The Dream of the Dog (2010).

Higginson began writing the outline of a novel in 2000, then turned it into a play, then a radio play. That radio play became the 2010 play, which was very popular in England. Around 2012, Higginson began reworking into a full novel. In an interview with Arja Salafranca, Higginson explained why he felt the need to adapt the play into a novel: "the bones of the piece felt very good, but in some ways it was a missed opportunity. The productions hadn't done the stories justice. What the characters are thinking and feeling can't be accessed in a play; it's hard for a play to explore."

The story was based on a real house and real people. In an interview with English Experience, Higginson explained, "I went to boarding school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. On the other side of the hill from our school lived a farmer and his wife who were acquaintances of my family. I started to visit them over weekends. They were very similar to the characters of Patricia and Richard in the novel. They were vivid, eccentric, and skeptical of my ‘city boy’ ways, but they were always kind to me. I got to know the farm as well as I knew our garden at home and I always felt welcome there. When I started to write my first play, it was set there. I think it was there, on that farm and in the surrounding Drakensberg hills, that my imagination found its starting place. Several of my plays and novels have been set in that area since. So, the novel comes from the place and the people, as well as some of the stories that I heard while living there—including the incident when the farmer’s Rottweiler dog attacked a young woman who worked at the dairy—but it comes, first and foremost, from me."

The novel generally received positive reviews, with notable South African author Nadine Gordimer calling it "an open and frank exploration of human life that resonates beyond race. Looksmart is a welcome new kind of character in the constantly evolving reality of African literature."