The Zambian novelist on using tropes to upend them, the power of mistakes, writing female desire, and more.
The Freshwater author on the ogbanje, Igbo, rejecting gender binaries, and using private journals as creative archives.
“My imagination was shaped in a period of extreme rigidity in the social and political system. The apartheid system was about putting physical space between people. So an encounter with the other, with the neighbor or the stranger, has always seemed central to me.”
“When a state ceases to exist, your body becomes your own state, the one and only state you have.”
Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina is inexhaustible, a public intellectual very much engaged with the literary and political worlds. His memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place, published this July by Graywolf Press, chronicles the multiplicity of his middle-class African childhood: home squared, we call it, your clan, your home, the nation of your origin.
Like the gods and mortals in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the characters in Achmat Dangor’s novel Kafka’s Curse transform—from Muslim to Jew, woman to hawk, man to tree; they seek revenge or love in horrible and wonderful ways; they betray or are betrayed.
J.M. Coetzee has been long-recognized as South Africa’s finest novelist. His key novel, Waiting for the Barbarians (1982) and The Life and Times of Michael K (1983), plus his five other works of fiction, are all distinguished by a reticence to divulge any personal information about his own life.
With smug self-assurance and nervous down-cast self-referential glances, we, enlightened children of the world’s last superpower, tend to talk of the achievements of South Africa as phenomena occurring in spite of itself.
Poem “Kunyenyeza Ezikhotheni (Voices In The Wilderness)” by Duma Ndloru—from the portfolio of African poetry.
Missiles fly wild
They came—the Strange Ones in the night.
A Poem For Martyrs’ Day
The first vowel of pain
(Voices in The Wilderness)
as purple shades
usher in the night