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Lara Buxbaum Considers Die Sneeuslaper Alongside Elizabeth Costello and The Loss Library

Die sneeuslaperIn a lengthy review for SLiPNet, Lara Buxbaum argues that Marlene van Niekerk’s Die Sneeuslaper – “a meditation on the act of writing and storytelling” – can be considered alongside JM Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and The Loss Library by Ivan Vladislavić. According to Buxbaum, van Niekerk is one of contemporary South Africa’s “most exciting and original writers” and her award-winning short story collection deserves to be made accessible to an English audience in translation. Buxbaum also refers to several of van Niekerk’s other acclaimed texts, including Agaat, Triomf and Memorandum.

Marlene van Niekerk is one of the most exciting and original writers working in South Africa today. Her most recent work, Die Sneeuslaper, was published in a Dutch translation in the Netherlands in 2009, and the Afrikaans version appeared in 2010. I hope that this collection will also find an English translator, as it deserves a wider national and international audience. Die Sneeuslaper was awarded the University of Johannesburg prize for the best fictional work published in Afrikaans in 2010 – the same award Van Niekerk won for her monumental achievement, Agaat, in 2004. According to the citation, the judging panel praised the work as “’n aangrypende verhaalbundel wat op eerlike, kritiese wyse rekenskap probeer gee van wat dit verg om in die 21ste eeu ’n stukkie outentisiteit as mens en as kunstenaar te win”. As a meditation on the act of writing and storytelling, this collection can be considered alongside J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello (2003) and more recently Ivan Vladislavić’s The Loss Library (2011).

AgaatTriomfMemorandumElizabeth CostelloThe Loss Library

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Photo by Lien Botha courtesy Kulturhuset Stockholm


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