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Charl Blignaut on the Autobiographical Aspects of K Sello Duiker’s First Two Books (Plus: Podcast)

Following the republication of K Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents, Charl Blignaut has written a very personal piece about the writer, who committed suicide in 2005, for City Press. The two of them met while working on a popular soapie when Duiker was “a budding literary rock star” whose books, Thirteen Cents and The Quiet Violence of Dreams, had put him on the literary map.

“It was a lot of pressure for a messed-up young man to cope with, to be the voice of new black writing,” Blignaut writes. He goes on to say that Duiker’s novels are “probably more autobiographical than he’d tell interviewers” and writes about the links between Duiker’s characters and his own life, including his experimentation with drugs and the sex trade and his time in a psychiatric institution.

Thirteen Cents by K Sello Duiker has been republished after achieving a certain cult status around the world. Charl Blignaut shares a few thoughts about his friend, the budding literary rock star who committed suicide at 30

‘Security is a false God. Begin to make sacrifices to it and you are lost.’ – Paul Bowles

Thirteen CentsThe Hidden StarThe Quiet Violence of Dreams

Blignaut was interviewed by Eusebius McKaiser on Power FM about the article, which he says was an incredibly difficult thing to write: “I’m still conflicted about it, just in case anyone thinks I’m cosily trying to gain publicity or something – that’s not the case.”

Blignaut discusses how Duiker “shattered the mould of what a young black South African looked like, sounded like and how they acted” and says that Duiker’s first two books “are in fact intensely autobiographical”. They offered readers a young black character they could identify with who was open about the conflicts surrounding post-apartheid identity and inequality.

“I have received some negative responses to writing about his sexuality and I’ll man up to those. A lot of responses have come from other writers of a younger generation who are saying that we just don’t talk about the crisis in identity, the coconut crisis, if you want to put it into a handy term, and I think we’re going to have a lot of that kind of writing coming ten years after Sello died, finally. He was a precursor to a conversation we have to have,” Blignaut says.

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Image courtesy Belinda Blignaut


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