On the cover of CA Davids’s The Blacks of Cape Town, a windswept tree bends towards the earth, which, patched by snowflakes, is drawn in shades of grey. For this reader, the indeterminacy of grey evokes the ideas with which the novel grapples: the ambiguities of skin and of betrayal, and of finding one’s place in social and filial narratives where much may be hidden. Juxtaposed against the slippages of identity suggested by grey, the book’s title seems to offer a clearer meditation on “blackness” and its personal and political significances. Or does it? In what follows I argue that at its best, Davids’s writing works against assumptions about the histories and identities we claim, revealing the tangled skeins of complicity that lie beneath their surface.
- The Blacks of Cape Town by CA Davids
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