i n t r o d u c t i o n
Normalization or Radical Democracy
The shape this book has taken reflects the momentous changes
in South Africa during the time of its composition.Writing between 1992
and1998onradicalimpulsesinSouthAfricanliteratureandpoliticsinthe
1980s, I began with a sense of the high tide of antiapartheid struggle in
the late eighties as the vivid present, both of South African culture and of
its representations abroad. Gradually, however, it became clear that 1990,
withthereleaseofMandelaandthesomewhatdemobilizingonsetofnego-
tiations,markedthewaningoftheresonantinsurgencyandmilitanthope
of the Mass Democratic Movement of that period.With a growing aware-
nessof howtheSouthAfricantransitionwasshiftingthequestionsposed
toradicalimaginationandinterpretation(includingtheirramificationsin
globalcultureandpolitics),thebookbecamemoreandmorea retrospect on
the 1980s, apparent especially in chapter 3, which directly addresses the
political and cultural theoryof the transition, and also in the book’s fram-
ing between chapter 1, which interprets the writing of the 1994 election,
and the epilogue, which discusses two works of the late nineties, Nadine
Gordimer’s 1998 novel, TheHouseGun, and Ramadan Suleman’s film Fools.
Myreadingsoftheradicaleightiesintheinterveningchaptersarethusem-
bedded in an engagement with a putatively ‘‘normalized’’ postapartheid
culture, and came to be a contestatoryargument precisely against any nor-
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