38pp., colour illus., paperback, Cape Town, 2021
Chapbook about Sean O'Toole's visit to Mali in 2007.
"I’d never heard of Sylvie Moulin until I chanced upon an English translation of Distant Allegiances (1984) on a bargain table in Kalk Bay, near Cape Town. I parsed her introduction in the sceptical manner of a book buyer who not only reads but also writes.
'Dust, thirst, loneliness, waiting, fatigue – these are the writer’s obligations to knowing.'
Huh? I reread the statement, closed the book, and continued browsing. Who isn’t familiar with these obligations? Maybe not the dust, not as a persistent complication, but the rest of things – thirst, loneliness, waiting, fatigue – are pretty much standard contracts in any life. At length, after unsuccessfully trawling the bookshop’s familiar shelves, I returned to the marked-down copy of Distant Allegiances on the bargain table.
A year or two later I found myself in Mali chasing after Sylvie.” Sean O'Toole, from the publisher's websiteJournalist, art critic, editor and writer Sean O'Toole is a past editor of Art South Africa. He is currently co-editor of CityScapes, a magazine of urban enquiry, and writes regularly for the Sunday Times and Mail & Guardian.