Review: Sunset Park, Paul Auster

27 January 2011, 10:18 am

Paul Auster, Sunset Park, Faber & Faber, 2010

(originally published in Afrikaans in Rapport, 24 Jan. 2011)

As with his previous novel, Invisible, Auster continues in Sunset Park with main characters who are in early adulthood. This time, however, the story is set in 2009, post-recession America, and the book can very much be read like Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom: a lament from and for a world in decline. This sense of decline is firstly captured by the rudderless lives of Auster’s four main characters.

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Dear Comrade: Letter to Mandela

13 July 2008, 10:52 am

Following is the English version of a letter to Nelson Mandela, commissioned by the books editor of Rapport in celebration of his 90th birthday. The Afrikaans version appeared in Rapport, 13 July 2008, with minor cuts and variations of meaning:

Dear Comrade

Firstly, even as I have never been a member of the ANC (or any political party), allow me to address you as “Comrade”. After all, growing up into a politicized young adult during the 1980s in this heart-breaking country, I shared (and still do) many of the broad visions of the future that the ANC then held.

You are now 90, and I wonder, when you look at everything around you, what goes through your head? We are a long way from the heady days of my own politicisation, and, of course, a long way from your own birth, from your eventual entanglement with and incarceration by the Pretoria regime of old. Your life has been remarkable, but you don’t need a snotkop writer to point this out. So I won’t go into detail about your achievements and credentials. Neither will I engage in my normal anti-hagiographic critique of which my friends have heard enough.

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