Books

“A truly living human being cannot remain neutral”: South Africa’s banned authors

CHAD JOHNSTON

Literature is a wonderful platform for challenging a particular belief system or point of view. Sometimes authors have their work banned for this very reason. Thankfully in our society we have, for the most part, moved past the notion of banning something which may cause people to think in a different direction. However, in the past it was difficult to write with freedom. Here are a few authors who found it difficult to have their views aired and subsequently had their books banned by the local government, and sometimes even internationally.

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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Neil Gaiman

THOMAS MARAIS

English author Neil Gaiman’s latest offering, Trigger Warning, is a collection of various short stories and poems all told with Gaiman’s trademark dark wit and are guaranteed to induce introspection in the reader. The 25 stories and poems range from deeply disturbing to enchantingly fantastical. Gaiman is most famous for novels such as Stardust and Coraline. Perdeby has done micro-reviews of selected short stories from the collection:

 

Lunar Labyrinth

A passionate sightseer travels to a small town in an unnamed country to see a local maze at the top of a hill: the titular labyrinth. This is a maze in which the townspeople tread only when the moon is out and the sky is cloudless, except for the day of the new moon, when only the sick and injured walk these tenebrous paths. The writing is reminiscent of HP Lovecraft’s, and the subject matter is somewhat similar as well.

Read more: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Neil Gaiman

Bookworm bliss: quiet spots on campus

THOMAS MARAIS

What do you do when you want to be alone? When you don’t want anyone by your side? Campus may at times seem oppressively overcrowded, especially for bookworms. It can be difficult to find spots where you don’t have the constant white noise of people complaining about lecturers, worrying about marks or gossiping at the top of their voices. But, as ever, Perdeby is here to help you out.

The music library seems like an obvious choice, but very few people know of its existence. It is a well-known fact that silence in a library is a sacred state that cannot be broken. In the Merensky library, you can book discussion rooms that are impressively soundproofed but, even in the more public areas, the library is quiet enough for reading. However, if you dislike crowds it might not be the place for you. Even at its quietest it can be pretty packed.

The Administration building is the distinctively ship-shaped building with a wonderful patch of grass outside, ample shade and is very far from the hustle and bustle of the main lecture halls. This makes it wonderful in summer, although Pretoria’s chilly weather might creep up on you during winter. Another downside is the proximity to two major roads, meaning constant noise from passing cars will unfortunately be your companion.

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André Brink: “In love, no question is ever preposterous.”

ELMARIE KRUGER

Novelist André Brink was a multi-faceted man. From the release of his debut novel in 1962 until his death on 6 February 2015, Brink delivered social commentary on both past and present South Africa. Brink was an English professor at the University of Cape Town, was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature and he often wrote his novels in Afrikaans and English simultaneously. Perdeby looks at his life, his work, and the legacy he left behind.

Read more: André Brink: “In love, no question is ever preposterous.”

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