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Es'kia's excellent writing a gift to posterity

By unknown | Apr 12, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

TITLE: Bury Me At The Marketplace

TITLE: Bury Me At The Marketplace

EDITORS: N Chabani Manganyi

PUBLISHERS: Wits University Press

REVIEWER: Don Makatile

WHEN he died at 89 in October 2008, literary supremo Es'kia Mphahlele bid farewell to a life spent reading and writing.

Except for two earlier interviews with co-editor N Chabani Manganyi, this is a collection of Mphahlele's letters to family and friends; the latter mostly peers like Nadine Gordimer, Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, among others.

In the preface Manganyi writes romantically on the meaning of letters: as a real biography, as it is giving first place to the writer's own words.

Each letter is like a well-crafted short story.

Mphahlele lived at a time when the letter was the most trusted form of correspondence. That period also coincided with the typewriter being the equipment of choice for those who excelled in the art.

A writer par excellence, he took this basic form of communication a notch higher.

In one letter to poet, playwright and novelist Langston Hughes he writes "I received both your letters which I have enjoyed immensely."

They did not just write to relay a message, it was a literary effort.

Kudos to the editors; this is one gift posterity can really use.


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