Imraan Coovadia’s Post-transitional Palimpsest

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2 Citations (Scopus)


It is widely accepted that South African literature has undergone considerable thematic and stylistic shifts since the transitional decade of the 1990s. However, literary scholarship is divided not only as to the extent of these shifts but also as to what should be emphasised when mapping their contours. In this article, I focus on two of Imraan Coovadia’s recent novels that point to a post-transitional literary landscape in South Africa. Focusing particularly on The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012) and Tales of the Metric System (2014), I use the concept of the palimpsest to think through the internal logic of these two novels and their locatedness within the post-transitional present. In these texts, Coovadia inscribes imaginative possibilities over the histories of apartheid and the transition in a way that renders multiple narrative temporalities and discourses legible simultaneously. In particular, I focus on the way in which this post-transitional palimpsest defamiliarises apartheid and transition-era understandings of history and nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-25
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Writing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Imraan Coovadia
  • Post-transitional
  • South African literature
  • Tales of the Metric System
  • The Institute for Taxi Poetry
  • palimpsest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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