The lives of South Africans have always been interwoven in complex ways. There is a long history of division; but also of profound (and often surprising) instances of mutual recognition. Recognition
is an exciting anthology of short stories in which twenty-two South African writers render these intricate connections.
The writers whose stories have been selected use the transformative power of the imagination and the unique appeal of the short story to illuminate aspects of our past and present. Cumulatively their stories tell of a history tainted by misrecognition but not, finally, bound by it. Amongst the twenty-two contributors are some of our best-known short story writers: Pauline Smith, Herman Charles Bosman, H.I. E. Dhlomo, Can Themba, Nadine Gordimer, Alex La Guma, Dan Jacobson, Miriam Tlali, Ahmed Essop, Njabulo Ndebele, Mandla Langa, Chris van Wyk, Damon Galgut, Achmat Dangor and Zoe Wicomb. And there is also a selection of vibrant newer voices: Makhosazana Xaba, Nadia Davids, Mary Watson, Lindiwe Nkutha, Wamuwi Mbao and Kobus Moolman.
Chronologically the collection ranges from the 1920s to the twenty first century. It builds on its predecessor, Encounters, but devotes significant attention to the transitional and post-apartheid years: almost half the stories were published after 1994. The anthology includes a generous and detailed introduction, written by David Medalie. It traces the motif of recognition, discusses the general characteristics of short stories and the narrative devices used by writers, and includes a brief analysis of each short story.
Recognition will appeal to teachers and students of literature. It will be enjoyed by all those who love short stories and appreciate the craftsmanship involved in telling a memorable tale.
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