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Prose of the WorldModernism and the Banality of Empire$
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Saikat Majumdar

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156950

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156950.001.0001

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The Dailiness of Trauma and Liberation in Zoë Wicomb

The Dailiness of Trauma and Liberation in Zoë Wicomb

(p.101) Chapter 3 The Dailiness of Trauma and Liberation in Zoë Wicomb
Prose of the World

Saikat Majumdar

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on a linked collection of short stories by Zoë Wicomb, the first female South African writer of mixed racial heritage, whose discomfort with mainstream anticolonial narratives is traceable to her racial and gendered identity. The analysis of Wicomb's linked stories, in certain ways, looks back to the delineation of similar motifs in the short stories of Katherine Mansfield. Like the late colonial modernist Mansfield, Wicomb locates the narrative consciousnesses of her fictions within the realm of the domestic. When the narrator-protagonists of such works set foot in the public sphere and acquire a sense of its turmoil, their knowledge of the public events and forces of mainstream history are refracted through the resolutely private nature of their consciousness. Wicomb's book You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town spans the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, coinciding with nearly the entire period of apartheid rule in South Africa. The book is significant in its persistent attachment to quotidian life not only in the larger context of the cultural history of Anglophone South African fiction but also in the more immediate context of Wicomb's own writing.

Keywords:   banality, boredom, empire, cultural politics, Anglophone postcolonial fiction, South Africa, apartheid

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