CAN THEMBA, the making and breaking of the intellectual tsotsi, a biography

: Mahala (S.)

R 350.00
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260pp., illus., paperback, Johannesburg, 2022


Can Themba (1924-1967) was a Drum journalist and writer. His writings were banned in South Africa in 1966 and only became widely accessible after his death when they were published in two collections, The Will to Die (1972) and The World of Can Themba (1985).

 "An engaging read, well-researched and accessible. It offers new insights not only on Can Themba – the subject of the book – but on his era, his peers, and the movement that later became known as the Sophiatown Renaissance. Mahala captures the period and its politics so vividly that he makes the reader critically aware of how it felt to be in those events, rather than merely chronicling them." Zakes Mda, Professor Emeritus of English, Ohio University, Creative Writing Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Ways of Dying

"A satisfying chemistry radiates from every page of Siphiwo Mahala’s biography of Can Themba. Mahala’s clarity, vivid narration, and firm touch do full justice to the life and work of Themba, a brilliant artist who was mercurial and troubled in equal measure. The result is an affectionate and astute biography that reaches across the generations." Professor David Attwell, Professor of English, University of York, Extraordinary Professor, University of the Western Cape, and author of J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing

Siphiwo Mahala is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Johannesburg and a research fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study. He is the editor of Imbiza, journal for African writing.