Hedley Twidle launches Experiments with Truth: Narrative Non-Fiction and the Coming of Democracy in South Africa

28 Aug 2019
28 Aug 2019

The Department celebrates the recent publication of Hedley Twidle’s new book, Experiments with Truth: Narrative Non-Fiction and the Coming of Democracy in South Africa. At a launch event at the Book Lounge recently, Hedley spoke with Book Lounge founder Mervyn Sloman about the ‘strange’ and even ‘unusable’ elements of the past that nonetheless find their way into the array of narrative non-fiction, memoir and other documentary modes that continue to shape the past for the post-apartheid present.  


This is the first book-length account of the new non-fiction that has appeared in the first decades of democracy in South Africa. Scholars of literary and cultural studies in South Africa have noted the book’s deft treatment of the increasingly blurred distinction between ‘truth’ and ‘fiction’, and its own experimentation with genre, as a work of scholarship that turns our attention, also, to the academy’s own attachment to the idea of truth:


“In this wise and elegant book, one of South Africa’s prominent writers of non-fiction turns his academic eye on the field. The result is a superb volume by a scholar-craftsman that remaps the genealogies of southern African literature.”

— Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand and Global Distinguished Professor, NYU


“In a series of carefully crafted chapters, Hedley Twidle explores the full range of South African narrative non-fiction. It is the first serious, sustained intellectual engagement with this expanding corpus of texts. Twidle’s refusal to be trapped within the binary categories of fact and fiction leads to a cross-reading approach that enriches our understanding of the aesthetic and historical work that these texts perform. As the book’s final chapter shows, the major appeal of Experiments with Truth may lie in its own experimentation with the truths of the closure-driven academic monograph.”

— Harry Garuba, Professor of African Studies and English Literature, University of Cape Town


Read more about the book and its author here: https://hedleytwidle.com/publications