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At the Edge

The Writings of Ronnie Govender

Rajendra Chetty

Ronnie Govender’s works are significant in the construction of a South African national identity. The purpose of this book is to engage critically with race, class and resistance through a collection of essays on Govender’s oeuvre. His writings are re-invigorated by close reading within the context of postcolonial and critical theory. Govender recalls the resilience of the multiracial community of Cato Manor whose democratic coexistence and mutual respect comprise a model for the new nation. As a memory work, his texts recollect private and community identity in the wounded spaces of colonial and apartheid oppression. Events of the past should be interpreted in a creative and imaginative way and literature enlightens it best.

Govender’s unique performative prose reconstructs and resurrects the lives of the residents of Cato Manor, their vitality and humour, pain and humiliation: a vibrant, racially integrated community destroyed by the South African apartheid regime’s notorious Group Areas Act. The book seeks to redress that marginalisation and awaken readers to the bravery and creativity of a small, defiant community in the face of forced removals and social injustice. This book reveals Govender’s central concern for human dignity—his innate sensitivity to the unspoken pain of oppressed people.

The book invites the reader to connect and contrast Govender with a range of contexts and intertextualities—from post-colonial to African continental, from the diasporic to the politically analogous. Govender’s radical shift from colonial obeisance theatre to a revelation of raw existence and authentic living is reflected by questioning, dis-comforting and aggrieving.

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Indian Writers

Transnationalisms and Diasporas

Jaspal K. Singh and Rajendra Chetty

Indian Writers attempt to locate diasporic voices in the interstitial spaces of countless ideologies. The anthology provides a critical examination of dislocated diasporic subjects – those who have adjusted to the dislocation well, those who have chosen the hybrid spaces for empowerment, those who are dragged forcefully to various territories, and yet those who gleefully inhabit trans-local spaces. A wide range of voices raise these critical questions: How do we read these voices? How are the voices received in various locations? Are these voices considered Indian? Do they represent Indianness, or some hybridized version of it? What is an authentic cultural identity? What, ultimately, is Indianness, or for that matter, any hard-won national or ethnic identity?
Additionally, as more female writers are being read, both in the global south and in the north, the reception of these texts, particularly in an era of globalization, and in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack in the United States, raises questions on how the «other», the subaltern, is represented and read.
Some writers use an assimilationist approach to the cultures of the West to such a degree that they find Indian culture monolithically oppressive, while others continue to romanticize Indianness, yet others eroticize and ethnicize the east for western consumption. The authors of the essays in this anthology examine contemporary debates in postcolonial and transnational literary criticism in an attempt to understand the often complex and hybrid narratives of the diasporic Indian subject.
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Jaspal K. Singh and Rajendra Chetty

The re-conceptualization of South Africa as a democracy in 1994 has influenced the production and reception of texts in this nation and around the globe. The literature emerging after 1994 provides a vision for reconciling the fragmented past produced by the brutality of apartheid policies and consequently shifting social relations from a traumatized past to a reconstructed future. The purpose of the essays in this anthology is to explore, within the literary imagination and cultural production of a post-apartheid nation and its people, how the trauma and violence of the past are reconciled through textual strategies. What role does memory play for the remembering subject working through the trauma of a violent past?