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Somewhere in the Double Rainbow: Queering the Nation in Recent South African Fiction

C Stobie


Ten years of a democratic, multi-cultural South Africa have witnessed the publication of a number of novels which explore the trope of bisexuality. This essay examines three of these texts. Cracks by Sheila Kohler is a gripping but binarised text, as it polices boundaries, entrenching heteronormativity and demonising alternative sexualities. The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif opens a fluid site of interplay between the vectors of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. Heteronormativity and racism are presented as part of the same regulatory mechanism, and are critiqued. In The Quiet Violence of Dreams K Sello Duiker overturns the hegemonic in terms of sexuality and race, replacing each with its binary, while he entrenches the norm of masculinity in the text. By privileging one dimension over its polar opposite he confirms boundaries. Taken together, the three texts reveal the difficulties experienced by novelists in responding to a new social dispensation, and the range of strategies which they adopt in reflecting a queer nation.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2159-9130
print ISSN: 1013-929X