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Volume 43, Issue 2, 2016
The emergence of the South African farm crime novel : socio-historical crimes, personal crimes, and the figure of the dogAuthor Sam NaiduSource: English in Africa 43, pp 9 –38 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.1More Less
Crime fiction is an established and popular literary genre in South Africa that has gained international recognition and acclaim. The genre continues to expand and develop in terms of thematic concerns and experiments in form. One such notable development is the farm crime novel, which extends the tradition of the South African plaasroman. Recent texts, such as Elaine Proctor's The Savage Hour and Karin Brynard's Weeping Waters, quite deliberately set their respective murder mysteries on remote farms, and both novels particularise details of farm life. This article argues that the main concerns of the farm crime novel are, on one level, socio-historical - that is, the crimes perpetrated are the result of relationships to the land, land claims and land re-distribution, and the complex, evolving relationship between landowner and labourer. On another level, true to the conventions of crime fiction, the farm crime novel also explores interpersonal or intimate relationships that result in crimes of passion. Of particular interest is the observation that common to both thematic levels is a profound rendering of the link between human-animal relations and human-human relations. Drawing on Karla Armbruster's work on the cultural significance of narratives about dogs and the need for more just and ethical relationships with animals, the article then demonstrates how this rendering occurs, often, through the figure of the dog. To conclude, some comments are offered on the position of the farm crime novel in a post-apartheid literary landscape.
Author Aghogho AkpomeSource: English in Africa 43, pp 39 –62 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.2More Less
In this paper, I problematize the notion of the "post-transitional" (Samuelson 2008; Frenkel and MacKenzie 2010) as a way of theorizing and delineating recent South African cultural expression. I argue that this idea relies - whether intentionally or not - on a limiting conception of South Africa's contemporary socio-political history and transition in terms that are inevitably linear and teleological. I propose that contemporary cultural expression in South Africa (and indeed across Africa) may be productively considered, in broad terms, as literatures of transition. This is an overarching non-linear and non-teleological continuum embracing multiple transitions that are not necessarily discrete or mutually exclusive, and that can be delineated in connection with specific contexts and moments. Without rejecting the general features and trends of recent South African cultural expression identified under the problematical rubric of "post-transitional," I propose that the emergent post-2000 literatures be theorized as "post-TRC." This highlights the significance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as an influential point of reference without ignoring the wider, non-linear, and non-teleological frame of on-going multiple transitions - social, political, economic, and cultural.
Author Kirby ManiaSource: English in Africa 43, pp 63 –89 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.3More Less
This article exposes the groundswell of water metaphor prevalent in Ivan Vladislavić's Johannesburg texts, particularly the creative nonfictional Portrait with Keys. It attempts to construct a hermeneutic, or perhaps a "hermenautic," for the incongruity of this metaphor in works representing the landlocked city. While examining the peculiar urban geography of the Witwatersrand, it considers how water is used to explore the interplay of the surface/depth binary in relation to Vladislavić's critique of the Baudrillardian simulacrum. Late capitalist practitioners in the Johannesburg built environment have constructed a number of ersatz waterways to compensate for this pronounced geographic scarcity. Vladislavić thoroughly satirises this simulacral exercise to indicate the entropy of hyperconsumerism. However, the significance of water as a literal and figurative substance goes beyond a chastening hypermodern critique. In uncovering the ancient geological history of water in the broader Witwatersrand region, the article looks to the ways in which water metaphors may signal forces beyond the bounds of the comparatively brief anthropocene. This history destabilises virtuality and surface, and instead points towards water as a symbol of depth and continuity with the past. Water, being emblematic of flux, becomes a conceptual mechanism to convey a semiology of transformation, flow, and renewability in Vladislavić's works.
Saying "yes" to the human condition : Don Maclennan's confrontation with death and the meaning of lifeAuthor Ben ShermbruckerSource: English in Africa 43, pp 91 –109 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.4More Less
This essay seeks to establish a connection between the poet Don Maclennan's views on death and on the meaning of life. Specifically, after exploring the various attitudes that Maclennan adopts towards death, an argument is made that - owing to Maclennan's views on the meaning of life - neither one of these attitudes is more definitive than the other. Although such a reading stresses the ambiguous and unresolved nature of Maclennan's confrontation with death, evidence is supplied that such a reading harmonises with Maclennan's overall understanding of what poetry ought to accomplish.
Author Jocelyn FryerSource: English in Africa 43, pp 111 –129 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.5More Less
This examination of Zoo City (2010) by Lauren Beukes calls for a re-imagining of denigrated South African urban spaces and their inhabitants. Drawing primarily on the work of Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler, it investigates the making of abject spaces and subjectivities, suggesting that novels such as Beukes's might allow for readers to see anew so-called slums such as inner-city Hillbrow. It proposes that readers might come to know such spaces and subjectivities more intimately, bringing otherwise marginalised characters and their urban spaces more sharply into focus. This analysis of Beukes's novel considers the role of "ex-centric" fiction, fiction that challenges privileged centres of "belonging." Ultimately, this paper explores the potential for resistance such literature might have in the face of the dehumanising impact of othering and abjectification in post-apartheid South Africa.
Source: English in Africa 43, pp 131 –155 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.6More Less
This article evaluates the position and experience of whites in South Africa after the advent of a black majority government, insofar as these are represented by the English-speaking white male protagonist in The Good Doctor (2003) by Damon Galgut. Analysis of the novel will illustrate that the legacy of colonisation and apartheid continues to influence the settler descendants' perceptions of self and the other and their place in the country.
Author Paul MasonSource: English in Africa 43, pp 157 –180 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/eia.v43i2.7More Less
This article begins by discussing what Christo Doherty in his article "Trauma and the Conscript Memoirs of the South African 'Border War'," published in English in Africa 42.2 (2015), calls the "explanatory schema" for the analysis of "anti-heroic" conscript memoirs. At the centre of Doherty's schema is the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with its satellite concerns of "trauma narratives" and the "victim-perpetrator." In contrast, my analysis of two memoirs hinges upon a concern with the contest between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses of masculinity that prevailed in the 1980s. The memoirs I focus upon are two that are briefly discussed by Doherty - Rick Andrew's Buried in the Sky (2001) and Anthony Feinstein's Battle Scarred: Hidden Costs of the Border War (1998/2011). The aim of the article is to apply to the memoirs an analytic framework that does justice to a wider range of intra- and inter-masculine dynamics than can be accommodated by a trauma-centred analysis.