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RIP Aziz Hassim (1935 – 2013)

The Lotus PeopleRevenge of KaliDurban-born writer Aziz Hassim sadly passed away last Friday. The Daily Maverick’s Khadija Patel writes that although Hassim “began writing late in his life, he became one of the most important voices to emerge from South Africa in the last 20 years”.

Hassim’s first novel, The Lotus People, won the 2001 Sanlam Literary Award for an unpublished novel. Patel refers to a quote by Hassim, who had said, “Writing is my own personal [Truth and Reconciliation Commission]…It’s the only way that I can record the untold history of the Casbah”.

Talking about his second novel, Revenge of Kali, Hassim had said, “While The Lotus People is a novel about what the Apartheid regime did to the Indian community, Revenge of Kali is about what the Indians did to themselves”.

Read Patel’s obituary:

The Grey Street Literary Trail has lost another of its great writers. Aziz Hassim passed away on Friday 14 June 2013 after battling pneumonia in hospital for ten days.

“Writing is my own personal [Truth and Reconciliation Commission],” he had earlier said. “It’s the only way that I can record the untold history of the Casbah.”

KZN Literary Tourism has a profile on Hassim, which includes an excerpt from The Lotus People:

Durban-born Aziz Hassim, spent most of his early years fraternising on the streets in Durban’s Casbah area. The Casbah, a predominantly Indian – but also multicultural – area had a kind of romance and bittersweet lifestyle during the fifties and sixties, which lives on only in the minds of those that inhabited it at the time. Hassim’s debut novel, The Lotus People, which won the 2001 Sanlam Literary Award for an unpublished novel, spans the events and moods of this era and served as a form of catharsis for Hassim.

In 2011, Zoë Molver and David Basckin from Basckin Molver Productions made a documentary on Hasssim for KZN Literary Tourism:

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Image courtesy Niall Mcnulty


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