This book examines 21st-century South African autobiographical writing that addresses the nation’s socio-political realities, both past and present. The texts in focus represent and depict a South Africa caught in the midst of contradictory and competing images of the ‘Rainbow Nation’. Arguing that recent memoirs question and criticize the illusion of a united nation, the study shows how these texts reveal the flaws and shortcomings not only of the apartheid past but of contemporary South Africa. It encompasses a broad range of autobiographical works, largely published since 2009, that engage with South Africa’s past, present and future. At its centre is the quest for space and belonging, and this book investigates who can comfortably ‘belong’ in South Africa in its post-apartheid, post-Truth and Reconciliation, post-Mbkei and post-Zuma state.
2 Writing Subjective Histories
3 Struggling for Space in Christopher Hope’s The Café de Move-on Blues, Sisonke Msimang’s Always Another Country, and Tumi Morake’s And then Mama Said…
4 Fighting Disadvantage in Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and MalaikaWa Azania’s Memoirs of a Born Free
5 Coming to Terms with Violence and Xenophobia: Mark Gevisser’s Lost and Found in Johannesburg, Kevin Bloom’s Ways of Staying and Clinton Chauke’s Born in Chains
6 Contemplating Forgiveness in Desmond Tutu’s No Future without Forgiveness, LesegoMalepe’s Reclaiming Home and Haji Mohamed Dawjee’s Sorry, Not Sorry
7 Rewriting the Legacy of Nelson Mandela: The Memoirs of Ndileka Mandela, Zoleka Mandela and Ndaba Mandela
8 Making Autobiographical Concessions to the Past
Lena Englund is a university researcher in the Department of Finnish Language and Cultural Research, University of Eastern Finland. Her research interests include southern African literature and life writing.
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