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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Chetty, Rajendra, author. Title: At the edge: the writings of Ronnie Govender / Rajendra Chetty. Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2017. Includes bibliographical references. Identifiers: LCCN 2017028866 | ISBN 978-1-4331-4641-1 (hardcover: alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4331-4642-8 (ebook pdf) | ISBN 978-1-4331-4643-5 (e-pub) ISBN 978-1-4331-4644-2 (mobi) Subjects: LCSH: Govender, Ronnie—Criticism and interpretation. Classification: LCC PR9369.3.G65 Z64 | DDC 823/.914—dc23 LC record available at DOI 10.3726/b12242 Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

Cover design: ©2014 Ranjith Kally, Memory Against Forgetting. Cape Town: Quivertree Publications

© 2017 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

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