1st Edition

Sindiwe Magona and the Power of Paradox Challenging the Polarization of South African Discourse

By Renée Schatteman Copyright 2024

    This book examines the work of Sindiwe Magona, one of South Africa’s most prolific and groundbreaking writers, widely recognized for highlighting the everyday experiences of women and the domestic side of apartheid. A pioneer among black African women writers, she is equally respected as storyteller, advocate for children’s education, activist for HIV/AIDS awareness, and champion of indigenous languages. In this book, Renée Schatteman contends that Magona’s most important contribution comes through her refusal to choose sides in the contentious debates that have polarized public discourse following apartheid. By straddling two (or more) sides of a controversy and challenging any who do harm to others (and to the nation), regardless of their position, she blurs distinctions that are assumed to be absolute, opens new avenues of understanding, and inspires alternative visions for the future. By occupying the space of paradox, she undermines the closed epistemological structures inherited from apartheid and champions the need for interdependence, truth-telling, and dialogue. Covering her creative production over three decades (which includes novels, autobiographies and biographies, short story collections, children’s books, and literature about HIV/AIDS), this book is an essential read for Magona enthusiasts as well as for researchers of African literature and postcolonial South Africa.

    Introduction to Sindiwe Magona and the Power of Paradox 1. Sindiwe Magona’s “Paradox Perspective”  2. The Paradox of Oppression: Victimization and Agency in Sindiwe Magona’s Autobiographies and Short Stories  3. The Paradox of Transition: Guilt Versus Innocence in Sindiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother  4. The Paradox of Crisis: The Activist Imperative in Sindiwe Magona’s AIDS Literature  5. The Paradox of Disillusionment: The Elusiveness of Independence in Sindiwe Magona’s Latest Literary Endeavors  Conclusion: Sindiwe Magona: Writing Theory


    Renée Schatteman is an associate professor of World Anglophone Literature at Georgia State University in Atlanta and the editor of Sindiwe Magona’s essay collection, I Write the Yawning Void (Wits University Press, 2023).