Zoe Wicomb and the Translocal: Scotland and South Africa

13-14 September 2012, University of York

Derek Attridge

Derek Attridge is a Professor of English at the University of York. His books include Peculiar Language: Literature as Difference from the Renaissance to James Joyce (1988), The Singularity of Literature (2004), and Reading and Responsibility: Deconstruction’s Traces (2011). He co-edited Writing South Africa: Literature, Apartheid and Democracy 1970-1995 (1998), Semicolonial Joyce (2000), and The Cambridge History of South African Literature (2012).

“The view of a Martian”: The art of dislocation in Zoë Wicomb’s fiction

Frieda Shenton, in Zoë Wicomb’s You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, back in South Africa after more than ten years in England, says that her view of her adopted country will always be “the view of a Martian”. In interviews, Wicomb has commented in similar terms about her own relation to Scotland, where she has lived for eighteen years. Wicomb’s writing conveys with extraordinary power the experience of not-at-homeness produced by geographical displacement, and any notion of an easygoing cosmopolitanism is challenged by this idea of translocation as dislocation. My interest is in Wicomb’s deployment of the resources of fiction to create for the reader the frisson of the unhomely, and in particular the role art plays in this aspect of her writing.

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Zoe Wicomb and the Translocal

September 13th, 2012
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