Book Review – Writing The Deep South

Writing The Deep South by Ariel Dorfman (Picador) ISBN: 9781770101517

Writing The Deep South is a collection of reflections on South Africa, how not to forget, how to reconcile. In 2010, the Chilean-American Dorfman presented The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. This speech forms the first part of the book.

Since his first visit to South Africa in 1997, he felt deeply connected to this country. Dorfman was an activist in the Salvador Allende revolution and escaped from Chile in 1973. He draws parallels with the South African society and wrestles with the dilemma how to confront the terrors of the past.

In the second part, he describes how events in the United States act as a mirror for humanity. For Dorfman Tuesday 9/11 has a meaningful echo, as it was the day twenty years before New York, that Pinochet took over. The last two parts Dorfman mirrors South Africa with Latin America and with the rest of the world.

I loved this book. The language is poetic and if you liked Antjie Krog’s Begging to be Black, this will also appeal to you. I did not have to reread any sentence, but often had to put the book down, because it gave me food for thought and touched my heart, without being sentimental.

Dorfman is an excellent storyteller.

Pauline Vijverberg

Buy the book here: Writing the Deep South: The Mandela Lecture and Other Mirrors for South Africa

Posted on: 19th January 2012