Double Negative

Posted in Historical Fiction by - November 06, 2013
Double Negative

By Ivan Vladislavic
And Other Stories, $15.95, 200 pages

The end of apartheid brought about a new South Africa, and in his novel Double Negative, Ivan Vladislavic tells the story of Neville Lister who transitions through this important change in South African political history.  In his third year at university, Neville Lister is dissatisfied with his studies and drops out of college to gain his own life experiences.  His father arranges for him to shadow renowned photographer Saul Auerbach and the day ends with Saul, Neville, and journalist Gerald Brookes overlooking the city of Johannesburg standing atop a hill, choosing three houses at random to visit and hopefully catch a glimpse of life inside those walls.

Decades later, Neville returns to the third house that they never visited and finds motivation for his own projects.  He is also now a photographer, capturing images of his perspective of a changed South Africa.  It was interesting to see how photography was incorporated alongside the country’s political transition.  Double Negative is dense in content and Vladislavic’s use of language and comparisons is difficult, but his voice is strong and artful.  For a simple story line, there is a lot to take from this novel and I really enjoyed being taken through Neville’s Johannesburg.

Reviewed by Lenna Stites

  • Release Date: 11/12/2013
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