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From a carcass competition in the Karoo to a shambolic murder trial in Cape Town, William Dicey’s essays freewheel across an open terrain of interests. Dicey is curious and inventive, weaving strands of essay, journalism, fiction and self-reportage into something uniquely his own. Mongrel investigates a range of topics – radical environmentalism, the fault lines between farmer and farm worker, the joys and sorrows of reading – yet drifts of concern and sensibility draw the collection together. Several essays touch on how books can move, and sometimes maul, their readers. Mongrel is idiosyncratic, witty, potent.
Borderline is a travelogue, but a travelogue with a difference. The author takes the reader on a fascinating journey down the Orange river, a journey interwoven with historical detail from the places he visits and the history of South Africa as a whole. Augmented by his own photographs and an abundance of other visual material, the title becomes a document of discovery, much like the source material that Dicey himself quotes from - the first European explorers of the South African interior. But unlike these early documents of journeys into the unknown, and their depictions of outlandish animals and men, Dicey's travelogue is a document that touches the very fabric of history. Deriving much of its energy from the frontier days of the Cape Colony and from the people who populated that frontier - the San, the Nama, the Griqua, the Basters, and the coloured people into whom they have merged, Dicey investigates the waves of human occupation and the subsequent fallout as the indigenous people and then the Basters and Griquas were moved off their land around the Orange. This is in fact the story of the river, how it has shaped and in turn been shaped by South African history.
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