The first four issues of Kenyan literary magazine, Kwani!, (the brainchild of writer Binyavanga Wainania, can now be viewed via Google Books.
Posts Tagged ‘Books’
It stands for London; Harare South is Johannesburg. That’s the title of young Zimbabwean writer Brian Chikwava’s just published new novel. A good friend, who I trust on matters literary, recommended it.
The advance word from the mainstream: “… the darkest of comedies, fuelled by an electric, wholly convincing voice,” “… wit and suggestiveness…” etcetera, etcetera …
I need to get my hands on it.
Howard French (in The New York Times) on the point of Mahmood Mamdani’s new book on Sudan, “Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror”:
Mr. Mamdani’s constant refrain is that the virtuous indignation he thinks he detects in those who shout loudest about Darfur is no substitute for greater understanding, without which outsiders have little hope of achieving real good in Africa’s shattered lands.
The American edition of writer Mark Gevisser‘s biography of former South African President Thabo Mbeki will be launched in New York City on April 30th. In South Africa it is thicker–almost 900 pages–and known as Thabo Mbeki. The Dream Deferred and here–the almost 500 pages shorther–A Legacy of Liberation.
(Peter McDonald’s excellent Literature Police (about the censorship system in Apartheid South Africa) will also be launched at the same event.)
“This poem was started two years ago after I saw a movie, “Blood Diamond.” I finished it this week, thanks to my good friend the Argentine Marxist Claudia Martinezmullen. There were other relevant memories: I was in a recent march against Anglo American to protest the way they were taking over the land in Limpopo Province in search of platinum. A second memory is of a Thursday afternoon, September 17, 1963, when near 44 Main Street in Johannesburg, I was shot in the back trying to escape apartheid police, outside the magistrate’s court. I collapsed and looked up at the front entrance to Anglo’s headquarters.”
A Dutch friend recommended the website of the television station VPRO, “Holland Doc.” I have been meaning to blog about it for a while. During downtime I have often gone to watch some of the documentaries there. The Africa page and the South Africa page (no other country is specifically indexed) are current favorites of mine. A few days ago I sat through a 1 hour 17 minutes interview with writer JM Coetzee about writing, Apartheid, boredom, etcetera. Coetzee does not always answer the question. It is a sort of dance. It is for the 2000 program “Van de Schoonheid en de Troost” (“Of Beauty and Consolation”) Coetzee is interviewed by Wim Kayzer. (The interviews were later published as a book). It is very good.
UPDATE: I should have mentioned that the introduction in Dutch (about the setting, Coetzee’s unease about agreeing to the interview) takes about 8 minutes before the question and answer session (in English) commences.
HT: Wendy Willems.
A new book, The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and Its Cultural Consequences, by South African Peter D McDonald (he teaches English at Oxford University) presents the first full record of censorship of South African literature.
The book is accompanied by a website with pages that include: the names and biographies of the 40 “notable censors,” (these include some well-known Afrikaner writers and academics), a searchable database of 450 censorship decisions that represent “the most complete record to date” of decisions by the South African censors, another set of censor reports on books (including J M Coetzee’s “The Life and Times of Michael K” and “Waiting for the Barbarians”), a chronology of South African political and cultural history between 1910 (the establishment of the white Union of South Africa) and 1996 (the adoption of the new Constitution when the censorshop system was finally abolished), and finally a bibliography.
Here‘s also link to a story in a South African newspaper about the book and the website by Michael Titlestad, whose dad (?) served on the board.
UPDATE: Michael Titlestad commented below pointing out the Titlestad who served on the censorship board was not his dad, but a distant relative.
Joseph Lelyfeld, writing in The New York Review of Books, cannot help but notice that Mark Gevisser labored for 8 years to write a biography of “the life of the chief architect of the new South Africa,” only to see the publication of the 892-page book coincide with the former South African President’s dramatic fall from power in December 2007. To help things along, Gevisser “drenches his subjectives in adjectives like ‘guarded,’ ‘paranoid’ and ‘repressed‘ and “struggles mightily” to reconcile his subject’s split political personalities. Because of Mbeki’s difficult personality (and through no fault of Gevisser’s), what we are left with instead are lingering “ambiguities.” So we will have to wait for Mbeki (whom Lelyfeld at one points calls “thick-skinned”) to write his own biography some day.
The review, otherwise, covers familiar ground, but also includes these insights about Mbeki’s supposed “race politics”:
“… Antiapartheid whites found there was even less use for them in the emerging power structure. Gevisser is the kind of writer who can’t help squeezing a metaphor dry through constant repetition. When it comes to Mbeki’s relations with well-meaning whites, he finds the metaphor of seduction irresistible. Of course, in this portrayal, the whites end up feeling jilted and ill-used.
William Leith drools all over pulp novelist Wilbur Smith in The Financial Times:
When you think of Wilbur Smith, you think of lions, of men shooting lions, of men who shoot lions and have sex with beautiful women. You think of Africa. You think of the great riches of Africa, and the men who squandered those riches, mostly towards the end of the 19th century. You think of men who are so masculine that women turn to jelly, overwhelmed by sheer testosterone. “Of course she had seen a man’s naked body before … but never like this, not healthy and vital and overwhelming like this.” (A Falcon Flies, 1980)
It’s all downhill from here. More about hunting, the world of white expats in Africa, etcetera.
And in a sidebar, John Sutherland, who is emeritus professor of literature at University College London, approvingly refers to Smith as “the Rider Haggard of our Time.” Sutherland writes how Smith “… served in the Rhodesian armed forces in their most embattled years,” and that for Smith independence “… has done to Africa what Katrina did to New Orleans.”
You can’t make this stuff up.