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A novel look at diaspora and identity

by | May 9, 2016 | News | 0 comments

Academic JU Jacobs explores South African stories that reveal who we are and our journeys here and elsewhere, both physically and psychologically, writes Jane Rosenthal.

DIASPORA AND IDENTITY IN SOUTH AFRICAN FICTION by JU Jacobs
(University of KwaZulu-Natal Press)

Mhudi, the baRolong woman who is the protagonist of Sol Plaatje’s novel Mhudi (written in 1917, published in 1930), is the first refugee, migrant and dispersed fictional person mentioned in JU Jacobs’s study, Diaspora and Identity in South African Fiction. The last fictional person to be examined is Winnie Mandela as a character in Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela (David Philip, 2003).

A century or so separates these diasporic characters and their displacement from home has more similarities than one would expect.

Although this is an academic text, it should appeal to anyone who has an interest in the complexities of who we are, the histories of how we got here and the expression of these in fiction and near-fictional biographies. Jacobs examines several such works to illuminate South African identities and to show how we, all of us, are the products of diaspora. It’s an exceptionally rich feast.

For full review by Jane Rosenthal, see Mail & Guardian 

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