Imraan Coovadia’s Metonymic Aesthetics and the Idea of Newness in the South African Cultural Imaginary

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5 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, I read Imraan Coovadia’s writings as a type of metonymic aesthetics with a relationship to questions of newness, where Coovadia’s poetics become formative to the conceptual shifts of contemporary cultural formations. In The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012), Coovadia reveals how ordinary features of South African cultural life can become objects of both connection and rupture that are embedded in the multiple layers of South African cultural formations. While this article focuses mainly on one of Coovadia’s novels, the other articles in this special edition can be seen through a similar lens. I argue that Coovadia’s poetics establishes a metonymic aesthetic of the present in his utilisation of a range of imaginaries that authorise newness in a form that reflects its history. In establishing newness as a transnational but local value, Coovadia shows how the impulse to newness that post-transitional literary studies heralds is simultaneously an old one, as the metonymic pulls between similarity and difference, popular culture and its aesthetic codings are recast in Coovadia’s writings to create new trajectories that are embedded in the old.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-11
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Writing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016


  • Imraan Coovadia
  • Metonymic aesthetics
  • South African popular culture
  • newness
  • ordinary
  • poetics
  • post-transitional
  • transnational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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