Race, Nation, Translation
South African Essays, 1990-2013
Imprint: Yale University Press
The most significant nonfiction writings of Zoë Wicomb, one of South Africa’s leading authors and intellectuals, are collected here for the first time in a single volume. This compilation features essays on the works of such prominent South African writers as Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Njabulo Ndebele, and J. M. Coetzee, as well as on a wide range of cultural and political topics, including gender politics, sexuality, race, identity, nationalism, and visual art. Also presented here are a reflection on Nelson Mandela and a revealing interview with Wicomb. In these essays, written between 1990 and 2013, Wicomb offers insights into her nation’s history, politics, and people. In a world in which nationalist rhetoric is on the rise and right-wing populist movements are the declared enemies of diversity and pluralism, her essays speak powerfully to a host of current international issues.
“This collection establishes Wicomb as a leading critical commentator on and scholar of South African national politics and its cultural forms. The essays are outstanding. They present the most incisive, challenging, and dexterous interventions in the South African cultural field and ask the kinds of questions that cut to the quick of the issues at stake in them.”—Meg Samuelson, University of Adelaide
“This brilliant constellation of essays engages matters of representation, cultural production, meaning-making, and politics. At each turn, Wicomb’s insights challenge, reframe, and shine.”—Stéphane Robolin, Rutgers University
“This is a long-overdue collection of essays by one of South Africa’s finest writers and critics. Zoë Wicomb has a trenchant, singular voice: her style is brilliant, her intellect fierce, her ideas always bracing. Wicomb views the politics and literature of her home country from unexpected angles that invariably compel the reader, too, to consider them anew.”—Mark Gevisser, author of Lost and Found in Johannesburg
"Remake, reimagine, reform. What is the role of writers and artists in rebirthing a nation, one that must be written into existence anew? What are the challenges and pitfalls of which the writer must be aware? In this essential work of cultural criticism, Zoë Wicomb confronts the ideals and realities of post-apartheid artistic production in South Africa."—Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love
"Zoë Wicomb’s novels, short-story collections, and essays have done more than those of any other South African writer and critic to illuminate the discursive complexities of South African race, class, and gender politics and to explore the literary possibilities of their subversion, both in her own writing and in that of her contemporaries. In her essays, too, she shows an astute understanding of contemporary literary theory, whether from the 'North,' 'West,' or 'South,' attesting to the importance for us all, across cultures and generations, to attend to the social inscriptions of ideology and other modes of meaning-making. This excellent edition of her essays, produced by a foremost scholar of South African writing, includes an enlightening introduction and notes, as well as an interview with Wicomb."—Dorothy Driver, University of Adelaide and University of Cape Town.