My traitor's heart

My Traitor's Heart is a famous book about an returning exile South African Afrikaner exploring the madness in his country, his tribe and himself.
Malan, Rian
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Title: My Traitor's Heart
Subtitle: Blood and Bad Dreams. A South African Explores the Madness in His Country,His Tribe and Himself
Author: Rian Malan
Genre: Autobiography, Politics
Publisher: Vintage, London 1991
ISBN 0099749009 / ISBN 0-09-974900-9
Original softcover, 13 x 20 cm, 425 pages


Fair. Few traces of usage on cover.


The book Rian Malan set out to write was altogether more conventional than the one he has written. It was supposed to be a history of the great and detested Malan family, as told by its kafferboetie (that is, 'brother of blacks', 'nigger-lover') renegade. But along the way he ran into, and faced up to, the truth that is the making of his book - that for all his nigger-loving, leftist views, for all his long hair and days smoking zol (dope) on the hillsides in the mystical Tolkeinish company of 'wise old Afs', for all his daubing pro-black slogans on the walls of Johannesburg's northern suburbs, where scarcely a black would ever see them, he was still a Malan; that he could only write about the atrocity of South Africa by admitting the atrocity hidden in his own traitorous heart. Here is the demotic voice of black and Afrikaner South Africa. Creina Alcock, a strange and bewitching creature who speakes mostly in riddles, tells Rian Malan: 'Love is worth nothing until it has been tested by its own defeat. Love is to enable you to transcend defeat.' My Traitor's Heart, which tells us of the defeat of its author's illusions, his ideals, his sense of his own goodness, his courage, and his ability to comprehend his fellow South Africans as they dance their death-dances, which is full of bitterness, cynicism, anger and storms, is a triumphant instance of this type of defeated love. My Traitor's Heart became a best-seller, was translated into eleven languages and was in print many years later. It has been called both brilliant and racist.

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