David's Story

David's Story


Zoe Wicomb
"A tremendous achievement and a huge step in the remaking of the South African novel."

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 07-01-2002

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Afterword by Dorothy Driver

The 1987 publication of You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town won Zoë Wicomb an international readership and wide critical acclaim. As richly imagined and stylistically innovative as Wicomb's debut work, David's Story is a mesmerizing novel, multilayered and multivoiced, at times elegiac, wry, and expansive.

Unfolding in South Africa at the moment of Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1991, the novel explores the life and vision of David Dirkse, part of the underground world of activists, spies, and saboteurs in the liberation movement—a world seldom revealed to outsiders. With "time to think" after the unbanning of the movement, David is researching his roots in the history of the mixed-race "Coloured" people of South Africa and of their antecedents among the indigenous people and early colonial settlers.

But David soon learns that he is on a hit list, and, caught in a web of betrayal and surveillance, he is forced to rethink his role in the struggle for "nonracial democracy," the loyalty of his "comrades," and his own conceptions of freedom. Through voices and stories of David and the women who surround him—responding to, illuminating, and sometimes contradicting one another—Wicomb offers a moving exploration of the nature of political vision, memory, and truth.

"For years we have been waiting to see what the literature of post-apartheid South Africa will look like. Now Zoë Wicomb delivers the goods. Witty in tone, sophisticated in technique, eclectic in language, beholden to no one in its politics, David's Story is a tremendous achievement and a huge step in the remaking of the South African novel." —J. M. Coetzee, author of Disgrace

"A delicate, powerful novel, guided by the paradoxes of witnessing the certainties of national liberation and the uncertainties of ground-level hybrid identity, the mysteries of sexual exchange, the austerity of political fiction. Wicomb's book belongs on a shelf with books by Maryse Condé and Yvette Christiansë." —Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, author of A Critique of Postcolonial Reason