Business Day‘s Sue Grant-Marshall has written a review of The Shouting in the Dark, praising the novel’s ‘subtle and haunting descriptive prose,’ and noting that ‘Resilience is at the heart of Boehmer’s work.’
The Southbank discussion of Elleke Boehmer’s The Shouting in the Dark on 11 October 2015 formed part of the ‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know’ festival, and explored the topic of toxic secrets and forbidden love within families – here, the teenage character Ella’s infatuation with her parents’ African gardener, Phineas. The lively conversation with the audience shed light on some of the unspoken and now nearly forgotten aspects of apartheid, such as the ban on relations ‘across the colour bar’. We also celebrated how stories, and not history, take us inside the skin of another.
The inaugural discussion of the Dutch translation of The Shouting in the Dark – Op de veranda – was wide-ranging and stimulating and paid tribute to Joost Poort’s accomplished and sensitive translation. As well as Elleke Boehmer, the participants were the novelist Karin Amatmoekrim and public intellectual Naomi Wolf, and the session was chaired by cultural commentator Wim Manuhutu. After a short but impassioned introduction to this ‘life-changing’ novel by Naomi Wolf, Elleke kicked off the discussion with a reading from two sections of the novel in Netherlands. The conversation then covered a range of topics including how the novel worked as ‘crafted fury’, on white guilt against black belonging, on the lure of apartheid for post-war Netherlands immigrants to settlers, on how literature works against authoritarian systems of power, and on the novel as bio-fiction.
Later in the evening, Boehmer and Wolf again appeared on De Balie stage together, now to talk about what was billed Feminism 4.0 and about women’s post-millennial self-expression on various different platforms.
Elleke will be in conversation with Zoë Wicomb about The Shouting in the Dark at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London on 26 October 2015.
The event is hosted by the Centre for English Studies, SOAS with the Southern Africa Seminar Series, University of London.
Renowned authors Caryl Phillips and Elleke Boehmer read from their new novels, and discuss how they evoked troubled childhoods, race, the buried, unspoken violence of history.
Phillips’ The Lost Child (‘complex and compelling’ Independent) investigates Northern England’s slavery connections, reimagining the figure of Heathcliff.
Boehmer’s sixth novel, The Shouting in the Dark, described by J.M. Coetzee as ‘disturbing as it is enthralling,’ tells of a girl’s struggle against her father’s oppression while searching for a secure footing amidst the moral chaos of apartheid South Africa.
This event will be chaired by celebrated Leicestershire-based poet, editor and psychotherapist Mahendra Solanki.
Published by Oxford University Press, 2015
Winner: 2016 ESSE Book Award for Literatures in the English language
Indian Arrivals 1870-1915: Networks of British Empire explores the rich and complicated landscape of intercultural contact between Indians and Britons on British soil at the height of empire, as reflected in a range of literary writing, including poetry and life-writing. The book’s four decade-based case studies, leading from 1870 and the opening of the Suez Canal, to the first years of the Great War, investigate from several different textual and cultural angles the central place of India in the British metropolitan imagination at this relatively early stage for Indian migration.
In this luminous literary history of Indians’ encounter with English metropolitan culture, Elleke Boehmer asks us to dwell in the poetics of arrival itself. In its symbolic structures she traces not simply aesthetic forms or micro-dispositions of power but the very psychic life of the cross-border spaces that Indians in diaspora set into motion. It’s this dynamic terrain which, she argues, configured English modernity—that inimitable mesh whose recesses she illuminates with authority and affinity. All those who seek to understand the work of India and Indians in the making of imperial Britain will have to reckon with this book.
Written with a rare combination of subtlety, style and psychological nuance, Indian Arrivals 1870–1915 is as remarkable a work of literary and cultural history as it is a meditation on what it is to ‘arrive’—in all senses of the word—in the strange familiarity of the imperial metropolis.
[A] lucid study of the complicated—but not necessarily riven—landscape of intercultural contacts between Britons and Indians on British soil at the height of the Empire . . . a luminous literary history.
Boehmer discovers in the writings of these figures a poetics of arrival and uncovers the ways in which these travelers from India changed the culture of their new home.
The range of texts examined is impressive, and includes not only literary works, but also correspondence, journals and memoirs … [a] carefully researched and beautifully written book […] which sensitively and empathetically explores the multi-layered meanings of ‘arrival’.
The 1970s. Apartheid South Africa. A situation of profound division, both in the country at large, and in many homes, as children turn against the values of their parents. For many writers, early memories powerfully shape their fiction. But what if the world of childhood is a house divided? What if the surrounding politics pose seemingly insurmountable questions — about power, freedom, love, survival from day to day?
Elleke Boehmer, novelist and critic, confronts these questions in her new novel, Op de Veranda (English title: The Shouting in the Dark’). For main character Ella and her family these divisions are further complicated by the Second World War nightmares of her Netherlands father Har. Elleke Boehmer explores the effect of political change on an immigrant family and asks about growing up during apartheid, in the dying days of a colonial system. How is a child impacted by racism? How does she throw off the dead hand of her father’s control?
The writer Karin Amatmoekrim and the writer and public intellectual Naomi Wolf will join the conversation about memory, family, resisting oppression and writing fiction.
Wim Manuhutu, historian and heritage professional, will moderate the programme.