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Ivan Vladislavic Need Not Live in the Shadow of JM Coetzee – Leon de Kock

“The award of the R1.5-million Windham Campbell prize for fiction to Ivan Vladislavić confirms a successful trajectory for his extended career in ‘marginal spaces’,” Leon de Kock writes in an article for the Mail and Guardian, reflecting on the impact and nature of Vladislavić’s career.

Bad SexThe FollyThe Restless SupermarketPortrait with KeysDouble NegativeThe Loss Library

 
De Kock, academic and author of Bad Sex, notes that while readers were caught up in writing by the likes of JM Coetzee, André Brink, Mongane Wally Serote and Nadine Gordimer, Vladislavić was writing in a different register but saying the same things. Vladislavić offered South Africans an introduction to postmodernism and surrealism while taking “significant artistic risks”.

Vladislavić’s new book, 101 Detectives, is out in April.

De Kock concludes that it is about time that international judges and critics start realising that Vladislavić “need not live in the shadow of JM Coetzee”, adding that “the moment could not have come sooner”:

The award of the R1.5-million Windham Campbell prize for fiction to Ivan Vladislavic confirms a successful trajectory for his extended career in “marginal spaces” – also the title of an academic book on the author.

That Vladislavic’s work has taken a long time – more than 20 years – to find resounding international recognition shouldn’t be too surprising.

His writing has never pandered to the prosaic or the obvious, or any other clear-cut category of reception. It has been, from the start, very worldly and also very local, more surreal than realist (especially the early work), and never easy to pin down.

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