Resident Alien, by Rian Malan
Rian Malan's recent publication is Resident Alien, a provocative and engaging collection of the best of his writings that have appeared in the likes of The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Esquire, since My Traitor’s Heart.
(...) Anyone who has lived here understands these oscillations, but I'm a journalist, which means that I leave behind a trail of prophecies and judgements that often turn out to be mortally embarrassing in retrospect. There is no excuse for such failings, but if this was a trial, I'd win an acquittal. In the past two decades, South Africa has been stricken almost weekly by scandals that would have toppled governments in the West but seem almost meaningless here. Who stole the funds donated to help resettle ANC exiles? Who asked the Zambian government to throw Katiza Cebekhulu into a dungeon so that he couldn't testify against Winnie Mandela in the Stompie trial? Did Thabo Mbeki really negotiate the arms deal on a 'government to government' basis and pocket the resulting commissions? Did he really tell Bulelani Ngcuka to bring him the head of Jacob Zuma, even if that entailed fabricating evidence and setting honey traps? When these stories break, you think they're going to tear the country apart and alter everything, forever. But they don't. They linger for a week or two and then fade into oblivion, blown off the front pages by the next dumbfounding scandal. The ordinary laws of cause and effect don't seem to apply here. The boundaries of the matrix we inhabit remain unknown. But anyway, there's something to be said for practising journalism on the edge of an abyss, trying to follow your targets into the murk that surrounds. In the pieces that follow, I often miss, but there are a few passages that come close to disproving Michael Ventura's dictum. For the rest, I tried my best, and provoked reactions as richly varied as the reality we inhabit. A few people said nice things - 4a born storyteller', according to the judges on some American awards jury - but the reactions that lodge in my memory are mostly the angry ones. Some said racist, but that's so commonplace it's barely worth mentioning; any South African journalist who hasn't been called a racist or self-hating house negro is a kak one whose lips are chapped from sucking the unmentionable appendages of those in power. The more interesting accusations were incest, homosexual tendencies, heterosexual debauchery, incompetence, deceit, murder, sissiness, 'carbun-cular' practices, a secret alliance with the diabolical President Mbeki, spying for Inkatha, drinking too much, taking drugs and smelling bad. What can I say? My name is Rian Malan and I called it as I saw it.
This is an excerpt from the book: Resident Alien, by Rian Malan.
Title: Resident Alien
Author: Rian Malan
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa 2011
ISBN 9781868423873 / ISBN 978-1-86842-387-3
Softcover, 13x20 cm, 338 pages
Malan, Rian im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Resident Alien is a provocative and engaging collection of the best of Rian Malan's writings.
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Publish and be Damned tells a woman's career in investigative journalism in South Africa, uncovering two decades of political and criminal scandals.
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Stones against the Mirror is a brave and moving memoir which is both a family history and a story of friendship and betrayal in South Africa.