South African crime fiction and the narration of the post-apartheid
In this dissertation, I consider how South African crime fiction, which draws on a long international literary history, engages with the conventions and boundaries of the genre, and how it has adapted to the specific geographical, social, political and historical settings of South Africa. A key aspect of this research is the work’s temporal setting. I will focus on local crime fiction which is set in contemporary South Africa as this enables me to engage with current perceptions of South Africa, depicted by contemporary local writers. My concern is to explore how contemporary South African crime fiction narrates post-apartheid South Africa. Discussing Margie Orford’s Daddy’s Girl and the possibilities of South African feminist crime fiction, my argument shoes how Orford narrates post-apartheid through the lens of the oppression and abuse of women. The next chapter looks at Roger Smith’s thriller Mixed Blood. Smith presents the bleakest outlook for South Africa and I show how, even though much of his approach may appear to be ‘radical’, the nihilism in his novel shows a deep conservatism. The third South African crime novel I examine is Diale Thlolwe’s Ancient Rites and I discuss it in the light of his use of the conventions of ‘hardboiled’ crime fiction as well as rural/urban collocations. In this case, the author’s representation of postapartheid South Africa appears to reveal more about the author’s personal views than the country he attempts to describe. The fourth and final novel I discuss is Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer. My discussion here focuses on the notion of justice in post-apartheid South Africa and Meyer’s ambiguous treatment of the subject. This discussion of contemporary South African crime fiction reveals what the genre might offer readers in the way they understand post-apartheid South Africa, and how it might be seen as more than simple ‘entertainment’.