Member Blogs > Books Tell You WhyAlan Paton and Anti-Apartheid Writers

  • Fri, 19 Feb 2016 08:00:00    Permalink
    Alan Paton and Anti-Apartheid Writers

    "If you wrote a novel in South Africa which didn't concern the central issues, it wouldn't be worth publishing.” – Alan Paton

    It’s frequently said that history is written by the winners. When it comes to some of the great humanitarian causes of the last century, it often seems that the winners write most of the great literature, as well. In the case of the American Civil Rights Movement, for instance, the American canon was able to embrace such monumental works as Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940), James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952). So too has the tradition of anti-apartheid writing in South Africa yielded not just powerful political statements, but some of the era’s most enduring pieces of writing. This powerful vein of protest literature gave the world Nobel Prize-winners J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer. It gave us Zakes Mda and Lewis Nkosi. And, crucially, it gave us Alan Paton.

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