Category Archives: Essays

The Sound of Islay

Introducing the Bodley Head / FT essay competition. Financial Times | 11 November 2016. 1. Just before I turned 30 I was homeless for a while. Homeless is the wrong word, an exaggeration. But I was in Edinburgh with little money … Continue reading

Posted in Autobio, Essays, Journal, Other writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Institute for the Less Good Idea

Visiting William Kentridge at his Johannesburg studio. Profile for Financial Times magazine | 2 September 2016 | [PDF]. My (longer) edit, with The Nose reinstated: I knew I was at the right place because of the cats. Two sculpted, spiky creatures faced … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Half-lives, Half-truths

Svetlana Alexievich and the nuclear imagination. Reflecting on Voices from Chernobyl for the South Africa PEN essay series. 18 August 2016. In my twenties I worked for a while as an usher at a small cinema in Edinburgh. My job was to tear … Continue reading

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Summer

A walk through South Africa’s nuclear pasts and futures. Power Trip: Where will Zuma’s nuclear dreams take us? Sunday Times, 7 Feb 2016 | Photographs by Neil Overy (above) and Barry Christianson. Recently I took part in a “walking residency”, making … Continue reading

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Waterlog

A journey through the public pools of greater Cape Town. Solitary but sociable, easeful but dangerous, gloriously escapist but inescapably political – a swimmer’s progress is full of paradoxes… Openings column | Financial Times, 8 January, 2016. Waterlog #3 | Sea Point … Continue reading

Posted in Autobio, Essays, Journal | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Useless Life

Literary biography and the limits of ‘research’. Visions of Tsafendas | Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies Volume 16, Issue 4, 2015. Research seminar, research cluster, research output. The word is almost a fetish within the contemporary academy—but … Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Research | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Relocations

 A public lecture series transformed into a beautiful book. Relocations: Reading Culture in South Africa | University of Cape Town Press | 2015. Edited by Imraan Coovadia, Alex Dodd and Coilin Parsons. With essays and reflections by Gabeba Baderoon, André Brink, Imraan … Continue reading

Posted in Essays | Tagged , | Leave a comment