The Secret History of Costaguana – A Review

Narratives, Roland Barthes once argued, are perhaps the one thing that all humans have in common. But in the face of the Western canon and what Adorno referred to as the ‘culture industry’ this does not mean much.  Barthes’ suggestion is not that the canon does not have a distinct hierarchy.  What it does perhaps intimate is that this hierarchy can be undermined and that … Continue reading The Secret History of Costaguana – A Review

The Childhood of Jesus – A Review

J.M. Coetzee is an enigma. A Nobel Laureate, twice Booker Prize winner he has, or so it would seem, become the unwilling icon of South African literature. His prodigious literary output is matched in quantity only by his now voluminous public reticence. But whether this reserve is partly a well-played-out construct for the media and the academic cottage industry that has developed around his work … Continue reading The Childhood of Jesus – A Review

Are South Africans Free? – A Review

Are South Africans Free? by Lawrence Hamilton Nelson Mandela, in his Long Walk To Freedom, wrote that South Africans have ‘merely achieved the freedom to be free’. As Lawrence Hamilton, Professor of Politics at the University of Johannesburg, argues, in his book Are South Africans Free?, the political freedom attained in 1994 has in fact failed to ‘free’ the majority of South Africans. Instead Hamilton opines … Continue reading Are South Africans Free? – A Review

Spearheading Debate – A Review

‘Jacob Zuma is not to be trifled with. He is wily, strategic, scheming and, most importantly, he is acutely aware that he must preserve and protect himself at all times.’ This was Justice Malala’s verdict on why Kgalema Motlanthe failed in his attempt to wrest the ANC’s presidency away from the man popularly known as JZ, at the 2012 Mangaung Conference. Certainly those who care … Continue reading Spearheading Debate – A Review

The Clouds of Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer – A Review

‘Fictional biography’ or ‘biographical fiction’ or the fictional account of a real person’s life, as in Damon Galgut’s account of the life of E.M. Forster in his latest book Arctic Summer, is perhaps one of the stranger literary genres. There is no shelf for it in any bookstore, it bears no library catalogue number, nor does it have a dedicated group of followers.  Those dedicated … Continue reading The Clouds of Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer – A Review

Lost Ground – A Review

Michiel Heyns has fast become one of South Africa’s best novelists.  His latest book, Lost Ground, is perhaps one of the finest to have been published in the last few years.  Well-written, engaging and almost perfectly paced the book stands above many of its coeval.  To be sure, it comes out of a genre of writing that is almost entirely South African; its description of … Continue reading Lost Ground – A Review

Memory Chalet – A Review

Tony Judt died in August 2010 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  He was perhaps one of the world’s last public intellectuals who could be described as a moralist.  A Briton of Jewish extraction, who ended up living in New York, he was brought up Marxist and had a youthful flirtation with Zionism.  But what made Judt significant was that he came from that line of moralists … Continue reading Memory Chalet – A Review