South Africa's history has from the outset been marked by division and conflict along racial and ethnic lines. From 1948 until 1994, this division was formalized in the National Party's policy of apartheid. Because apartheid intruded on every aspect of private and public life, South African literature was preoccupied with, and formed and deformed by, the politics of race and the human cost of social engineering.
Since the release from prison of Nelson Mandela in 1990, South Africa has been a new nation-in-the-making, inspired by a nonracial idealism yet beset by poverty and violence. South African writers have responded in various ways to the Njabulo Ndebele's call to shrug off an inherited obsession with racial and political issues and "rediscover the ordinary." The result is a kaleidoscopic proliferation of texts in which new cultural possibilities and modes of identity are constantly discovered and explored.Although the new South African Constitution of 1994 recognizes no fewer than eleven official languages (some of them with highly developed literatures of their own), English has remained the country's literary lingua franca. Therefore this book offers a narrative overview of South African literary production in English from 1945 to the postapartheid present. It makes clear discriminations of value, guiding the reader to what the authors consider the most interesting and noteworthy writing from this period. An overview is followed by alphabetical entries providing accurate and objective information on genres and writers. It concludes with an appendix of authors published before 1945. This guide will be invaluable for general readers as well as scholars of African literary history, particularly those interested in the multiple traditions and future of the South African voice.
show more show less