n English in Africa - Effacing difference? The multiple images of South African adolescents

Volume 34, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



South African young adult fiction has not generally been the focus of academic study. The market for books by local writers is small in comparison with works emanating from the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Indeed, the local market is largely driven by educational needs, as sales often depend on whether or not a work is prescribed for schools. As a result, South African English language youth fiction largely focuses on issues in society that can spark discussion and debate among learners. Although this may initially sound unappealing, such literature inevitably provides a fascinating reflection of changes taking place in society, as writers explore new themes and innovative techniques. As might be expected, since the 1990s South African young adult fiction has increasingly mirrored the multicultural and multilingual reality of the contemporary adolescent. Novels have appeared by both black and white writers depicting a variety of characters from different social and ethnic backgrounds, who, although facing broadly similar issues and problems, inhabit very different spaces. Although the adolescents constructed in this fiction face largely similar issues and problems, they seem to inhabit seemingly different spaces. There are, however, two unifying factors : the narrative is set in a multicultural, southern African landscape, and the protagonists are all involved in a struggle for power - with themselves, their parents, their peers, or institutions such as the school.

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