In the words of renowned criminologist Antony Altbeker, South Africa is suffering from a “crisis of crime.” The outworking of tensions from the perceived inadequacies of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission have seen an explosion of violent crime, which has little improved in the two decades since the end of the Apartheid-state. Contemporary South African literature has spoken to this violent reality in myriad ways, from the violence of South Africa’s most written about novel, J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, to the more recent trends in crime fiction and true-crime genres. The novels considered here, Disgrace and Margie Orford’s Like Clockwork, work together to form an aesthetic of violence. Where Orford’s work is bounded by generic convention to solve crime and seek restitution, Coetzee leaves us in a state of uneasy non-resolution. The growing popularity of the “crime-fiction” genre then, speaks to a desire to make sense of a violent reality. If protagonist Clare Hart can restore order and enforce clear boundaries within the space of 300 pages, can readers feel assured in “a country at war with itself”?
"Growing scar tissue around the memory of that day": Sites of Gendered Violence and Suffering in Contemporary South African Literature.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 17(2), 30-42.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol17/iss2/4