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Leon de Kock

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Wits Writers Live

Four cutting-edge writers who have emerged from the MA Creative Writing workshop in the School of Literature and Language Studies at Wits show us how they critique, probe and discuss each other’s work. Each is on the brink of publication, or has just published a new book, involving work that was built and rebuilt in the midst of each other’s comments and critique in the writing workshop. The writers will each first talk briefly about their own project, do a five-minute reading of their work, and then face each other down. The floor will then be opened for questions from the audience.

The writers are:

Antony Altbeker (author of The Dirty Work of Democracy, 2005, A Country at War with Itself, 2007, and a new book on the Inge Lotz murder trial)

Vuyo Fatman (exciting new author of Nyadenga, a novel that straddles the modern and the anti-modern in SA society)
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Obituary: Es’kia Mphahlele 1919 – 2008

Es’kia Mphahlele, in many ways the father of modern black South African writing, lived out a career that was emblematic of a whole generation of writers, and his death this week marks the closing of a particular bracket in the life of South African letters.

Mphahlele, with Lewis Nkosi, was a leading figure in the Drum generation of writers who came to prominence in the 1950s.

As fiction editor of Drum, Mphahlele was the most serious of this group and he survived both as a writer and a public intellectual while Nat Nakasa and Can Themba set the opposite trend by rapid or protracted self-destruction.

Mphahlele, on the contrary, stood for a resilient determination to hold fast, in line with his belief in what he styled as “African Humanism”, now part of his intellectual legacy to new generations of South Africans.

Always a literary pioneer and a man of great seriousness, his first passion was teaching. He outstripped the constraints of poverty and gained an education against the odds. This epic story is narrated in absorbing detail in his most famous work, Down Second Avenue (Faber, 1959; US edition, Doubleday, 1971).

In 1956 Mphahlele made a significant mark by becoming the first black South African to graduate from the Unisa department of English with a master’s (cum laude) for his dissertation, The Non-European Character in South African English Fiction, in which he takes a view of the various literary stereotypes adopted in (white) South African English writing to characterise black subjects.
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