South African London

Writing the metropolis after 1948

Andrea Thorpe
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To read South African writing about London is to study the development of South African literature and culture in relation to one of the most important geographical touchstones within the South African imaginary. The texts examined in South African London respond to the apartheid context, displaced to a non-South African location that is a significant site of South African exile and emigration. Travel to London afforded South African writers opportunities to rethink ideas about Englishness, and also forged illuminating engagements with South African subjectivities. South African London uncovers a range of diverse responses by South African writers that provide nuanced perspectives on exile, global racisms and modernity. This book presents unexpected angles on major South African writers, such as Peter Abrahams, Dan Jacobson, Noni Jabavu, Todd Matshikiza, Arthur Nortje, Lauretta Ngcobo, J.M.Coetzee, Justin Cartwright and Ishtiyaq Shukri, across genres from life writing and journalism to novels, short stories and poetry. Since South African London considers the dual locations of London and South Africa alongside each other, it offers a refracted history of postwar London, emphasising the city’s transnational networks and the worldliness of South African letters.

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