Review: Notes from the Middle World, Breyten Breytenbach

17 March 2010, 10:45 am

[Original in Afrikaans at Rapport.]

Breyten Breytenbach, Notes From the Middle World, Haymarket Books, 2009, 978-1-931859-91-2

Once gathered into English liberal bosoms for his cultural and armed opposition to the ideology of his tribe, Breytenbach has of late received controversial coverage, especially in the English press. (But I do remember a cartoon in the Afrikaans press – was it in Vrye Weekblad? -, which showed Breytenbach standing in Paris and pissing on SA.) In 2008, a lot of this centred around A Veil of Footsteps (see the coverage at BookSA). His new book of essays, Notes From the Middle World (it includes two beautiful but scorching poems), has now already received a critical review at the Sunday Independent.

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White Scars

30 August 2006, 7:00 pm

Denis Hirson, White Scars: On Reading and Rites of Passage (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2006)

As Hirson mentions in his brief Afterword, White Scars started out as the ‘critical and reflective’ component to a Creative Writing Ph.D. and this partly explains the writerly feel of the book. It is a writer reflecting on other writers, a genre with many excellent practitioners (I think of Joseph Brodsky’s essay on Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’, Derek Walcott’s reviews of Lowell, Larkin and others). Hirson’s book falls into this tradition: it is literary, reflective, investigative, curious about himself in the world around him, without losing sight of the world as it is around him. Read the rest of this entry »


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