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Type: Journal article
Title: Gillian Slovo's Red dust (2000) and the ambiguous articulations of gender
Author: Driver, D.
Citation: Scrutiny2: issues in English studies in Southern Africa, 2007; 12(2):107-122
Publisher: Unisa Press
Issue Date: 2007
ISSN: 1812-5441
Statement of
Dorothy Driver
Abstract: Gillian Slovo's novel Red dust reads for the most part as a formulaic novel combining for its representation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission elements of courtroom drama and detective fiction. It offers a now standard sardonic view of the central tenets of the TRC, ironically addressing the reversals of power of post-apartheid South Africa, and posing useful if not surprising questions about the relations between gender and change in the 'new South Africa'. In depicting an amnesty hearing's staging of a power struggle between a notorious apartheid torturer and his one-time victim, the novel renders the intimacies of oppression in gendered terms, and redirects our attention to a patriarchal structure that outlasts apartheid, laying bare the continuing gender conventions of new nation building. However, through a black male character's redefinitions of self, the novel projects a new version of black masculinity for the post-apartheid nation. This is given particular force by virtue of its literary context, for the novel recasts that major race-gender gesture in Nadine Gordimer's July's people (1981) - echoed and adapted in JM Coetzee's Disgrace (1999) - in which a white woman decides that her future lies with a black rather than a white man. At the same time the novel calls into question the role of the white woman, both as fictional character and as authorial self. Black masculinity and white femininity are rendered as ambiguous subject positions in a novel that formulates ambiguity as an ethical response to the oppositions of apartheid and the struggle against apartheid, something like other recent South African fiction, notably Zoë Wicomb's David's story (2001) and Njabulo Ndebele's The cry of Winnie Mandela (2003).
Description: © 2008 Informa plc
DOI: 10.1080/18125440701752024
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest
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