248pp., paperback, Johannesburg, 2015
A memoir by Stephen Clingman. As a young child, Stephen underwent an operation to remove a birthmark under his right eye. The operation failed, and the birthmark returned. The operation also affected his vision.
"'Birthmark' is a profound reflection on vision and identity. From the minutely observed details of a Johannesburg childhood, through the dark comedy of military service, to the challenges of making a new life as an immigrant scholar, Clingman examines his own perspectives and their origins. How did I come to see this way? How does this way of seeing shape the person I am? Can it be changed? To answer such difficult questions, he must go beneath the shimmering surface to find deeper patterns in his mind and body, and reveal the 'underlying grammar of things'. The result is a thoughtful, unconventional memoir that will change the reader's perspective too." Ivan Vladislaviç
Stephen Clingman grew up in Johannesburg, After graduating from Wits University, he won a scholarship to Oxford. He now lives in the USA, where he is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of a biography of Braam Fischer and work on Nadine Gordimer.