Monday, February 05, 2018

Alex La Guma broadcast

Alex and Blanche La Guma on their wedding day in 1954

[Image source:]

Alex La Guma was born in 2 Rogers Street, District Six.

Lindsay Johns' tribute to Alex La Guma (1925 - 1985), was broadcast yesterday on Radio 3. It's available to listen to for the next however many days.

Lots on Walk In the Night, and some decent thoughts on The Stone Country and In the Fog of the Season's End. (Time of the Butcherbird doesn't get a mention.)

Kudos to the politically conservative Lindsay Johns for his out-and-out admiration for La Guma, even though La Guma was a communist. It leads to quite an interesting dialogue with Alex's widow Blanche about how the La Gumas squared their own fight for basic freedoms in South Africa with support for regimes elsewhere who eroded individual liberty. And I like the way he includes an interview with another early associate of La Guma's who bluntly dismisses Johns' own notion of La Guma's balancing of aesthetic and political values.

I'm not that crazy about the "black Dickens" tag (surely La Guma is a big enough writer to just be himself?) and it's perhaps an unfortunate necessity of popular broadcasting that the presentation is structured around La Guma's present-day reputation (i.e. Why on earth isn't he better known?) rather than his life and his novels.

(Worldwide I'd say La Guma is pretty well-known. The broadcast does contain some interesting speculations on why La Guma isn't as well known in S. Africa as he might be. One of them being contemporary disparagement of realism. Another that his books were banned in South Africa until the end of apartheid, by which time he was dead.)

If you miss out on the broadcast, you can read my La Guma posts instead  :) , but don't imagine they're any substitute...

A Walk in the Night

Time of the Butcherbird

Blanche La Guma's autobiography In the Dark with my Dress on Fire (2010, with Martin Klammer) looks well worth a read. ...

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