With the release of Nelson Mandela, the advent of nonracial democracy, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africans have found themselves grappling with the legacy of apartheid's racial and cultural divisions. Together with Claudia Bathsheba Braude's path-breaking introduction, the stories collected in this anthology tap silences that were central to apartheid rule and that have particular resonances for South African Jewish history and memory.
Bringing together the best and most noteworthy of a wide range of contemporary writers who represent the historical specificities and contradictions of South African Jewish life under apartheid, Contemporary Jewish Writing in South Africa makes compellingly clear the depths and complexities of a society in which racial identities, including Jewish whiteness, were deliberately constructed. The contributors include Nobel Prize–winning novelist Nadine Gordimer; well-known writers such as Rose Zwi and Dan Jacobson; exiled ANC activist and constitutional court judge Albie Sachs; satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys, a penetrating critic of apartheid; and actor and writer Matthew Krouse, whose fiction offers a provocative blending of gay and Jewish identities in the postapartheid era.
The volume traces the construction of memory and racial identity in South African Jewish literary and cultural history. Among the recurring themes in these stories are the selective presentation of certain aspects of Jewish life under apartheid, a reevaluation of identity after its fall, and the conflicting shadow of the Holocaust in a white supremacist society. Giving nuanced voice to questions about history, race, and ethnicity in postapartheid South Africa, these stories will be of broad interest.
"[I]ntroduction is . . . rewarding, acutely – and unflinchingly – placing each writer (and each selection) in context of South African racial history and textuality; she acknowledges both fearful complicity and courageous resistance among 20th-century South African Jews and dramatizes their uneasy 'in-betweenness' re apartheid's racial categories. The 16 selections . . . include some familiar authors . . . and others less known whose powerful writing will startle the reader anew."—Choice
"An important series of contemporary Jewish writing abroad translated into English."—Library Journal