The seminar takes place at 2 pm in room E890, Department of English, Stockholm University. All students and faculty of SU are welcome.

Abstract

Alex La Guma: The Black Dickens and The Politics of Colouredness

I will argue that Capetonian novelist and freedom fighter Alex La Guma is one of Africa’s greatest novelists and deserves to be celebrated accordingly, yet that he has been repeatedly denied the critical acclaim and popular appeal a writer and activist of his stature deserves. I will examine his life and novels, articulating wherein I think his literary genius lies (a combination of art for art’s sake and art in the service of politics, his ability to borrow from and yet also subvert the Western canon, his prose style, his deft characterisation and his storytelling technique), as well as explaining why he is still painfully relevant today, in South Africa and further afield.

Moreover, I will argue that La Guma has been overlooked and marginalised both during and post-apartheid, due in large part to his Colouredness (and the articulations of Colouredness which imbue his novels) being unpalatable to not only the old Afrikaaner regime, but also to the pro-“African” ANC government.