White Scars: On Reading and Rites of Passage
by Denis Hirson
"One of the most important works on and of literature to have come out of South Africa in years" – Chris Dunton, The Sunday Independent
A new book by South African author Denis Hirson, White Scars focuses on four books which Hirson himself read obsessively in different phases of his life – both as a youth in South Africa and during his decades in Paris, where he still lives. The books of inspiration for him are: Shooting at Sharpeville by Ambrose Reeves, a report on the killing on 69 anti-pass protesters by police in 1960; Die Ysterkoei Moet Sweet (The Iron Cow Must Sweat), Breyten Breytenbach’s first collection of poems; In a Marine Light, a selection of Raymond Carver’s poems; and Je me souviens (I remember), a book of fragments of post Second World War memories by Georges Perec.
The latter was the inspiration for Hirson’s two recent best sellers, I Remember King Kong (the Boxer) and We Walk Straight So You Better Get Out The Way.
White Scars also explores the moments at which Hirson read the four books. They include the arrest of his anti-apartheid activist father, Baruch Hirson in the early 1960’s; his own move to Paris in the 1970’s; his father’s death, and the end of a period of mourning for him.
In weaving together these two strands in White Scars, Hirson has referred to many other texts, including other books by Breyten Breytenbach, Raymond Carver and Georges Perec. He has also explored a constellation of key words, which trace, in different ways, the political space of apartheid South Africa and the transience of one who is now looking back at that time through the prism of distance.
About the Author
Denis Hirson was born in Cambridge, England, of South African parents in 1951. He lived in South Africa from 1952 until 1973, the year in which his father, who had been a political prisoner, was released from jail. He studied Social Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand and has since worked as an actor and English teacher in France.
In addition to his mosaic of memory, The House Next Door to Africa, he has edited an anthology of South African poetry, The Lava of this Land; co-edited The Heinemann Book of South African Short Stories, with Martin Trump; and translated into English a selection of Breyten Breytenbach’s poetry, In Africa Even the Flies are Happy.
|Parameters of Book: Book|
|Sub-title:||On Reading and Rites of Passage|
|Colour:||Black & White|
We Also Recommend