Culture and Liberation
Edited with an introduction by Christopher J. Lee
Foreword by Albie Sachs
Afterword by Bill Nasson
‘Alex La Guma’s novels of the 1960s and 1970s, banned in South Africa during his lifetime, form an important part of the literature of resistance to apartheid. This new collection of hard-to-come-by shorter pieces, edited by Christopher J. Lee, is a welcome addition to the La Guma oeuvre. Though La Guma’s Soviet-inflected essays, speeches, and journalism reflect the doctrine of their time, the stories and essays set in South Africa and working-class Cape Town remain particularly valuable.’—J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 2003.
One of South Africa’s best-known writers during the apartheid era, Alex La Guma was a lifelong activist and a member of the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress. Persecuted and imprisoned by the South African regime in the 1950s and 60s, La Guma went into exile in the United Kingdom with his wife and children in 1966, eventually serving as the ANC’s diplomatic representative for Latin America and the Caribbean in Cuba. Culture and Liberation captures a different dimension of his long writing career by collecting his political journalism, literary criticism, and other short pieces published while he was in exile.
This volume spans La Guma’s political and literary life in exile through accounts of his travels to Algeria, Lebanon, Vietnam, Soviet Central Asia, and elsewhere, along with his critical assessments of Paul Robeson, Nadine Gordimer, Maxim Gorky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Pablo Neruda, among other writers. The first dedicated collection of La Guma’s exile writing, Culture and Liberation restores an overlooked dimension of his life and work, while opening a window on a wider world of cultural and political struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America during the second half of the twentieth century.
‘At last, Alex La Guma the global internationalist is restored to us. With Christopher Lee’s illuminating introduction, this collection brings home the diversity and exploratory nature of La Guma’s nonfiction, as well as his commitment to emancipatory politics. Uplifting . . . Culture and Liberation is essential reading.’—Zoë Wicomb, author of Race, Nation, Translation: South African Essays, 1990–2013
‘Alex La Guma is one of the most important political and cultural personalities to come out of South Africa. His involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle was informed by his intensely uncompromising adherence to internationalism, where he saw his activism as part of a global thrust against imperialism. His leadership in progressive multilateral organizations made him an ambassador of the dispossessed everywhere.’—Mandla Langa, author of The Lost Colours of the Chameleon
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