Portrait with Keys

"Portrait with Keys" is a portrait of life in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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Title: Portrait with Keys
Subtitle: Joburg & what-what
Author: Ivan Vladislavic
Genre: City portrait
Publisher: Random House Struik
Imprint: Umuzi
Cape Town, South Africa 2006
ISBN 9781415200209 / ISBN 978-1-4152-0020-9
Softcover, 15 x 22 cm, 211 pages


"Portrait with Keys", winner of the 2007 University of Johannesburg Prize for the best creative work in English, and of the of the 2007 Alan Paton Award, is a book about Johannesburg and one man's place in it: a provocative, teasing, revealing, analytical and poetic text on the city and the life rooted in its concrete streets. A new high-water mark in Ivan Vladislavic's writing, Portrait with Keys is a sprawling yet comprehensive portrait of his Joburg. His gaze roams freely across the decades, but the focus falls on the eve of the millennium. Neither a novel in any conventional sense nor a collection of short stories, this chain of lyrical texts brings together memoir, history, snapshots, meditations, asides on the arts and, not least, observations on that essential urban accessory, the Gorilla steering lock. Home, habit, change, memory, mortality, friendship, ghosts, gardens, walking, falling, selling, stealing are all part of this unique dossier of city life. Portrait with Keys is an extraordinary work, both an oblique self-portrait of the author and a vivid recovery of where we have been all along.

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