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Carli Coetzee Reviews The Alphabet of Birds by SJ Naude

The Alphabet of BirdsVerdict: carrot

Some have claimed the collection inaugurates a tradition of world literature in and for Afrikaans. Yet the stories are almost entirely uninterested in a world coded in Afrikaans. The choice of Afrikaans seems, instead, subversive and an expression of an urge towards deletion. It is a collection written in non-Afrikaans, in a non-nostalgic register. The translation into varieties of English, into French and Dutch, makes these dense manoeuvres illegible. On the other hand, to translate this collection is completely within its own logic. When asked whether he would prefer the Afrikaans or the English version to be the “origin” text for future translations, Naudé paused and then replied blankly: “I really do not mind”. They are all translations, anyway.

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