2012 | 21/1 | 75-94
Article title

Novels of Transition: Counter-Narratives in André Brink’s Imaginings of Sound

Title variants
Languages of publication
Examining the preoccupation with history in contemporary South African fiction, this article focuses on the way André Brink undertook the task of imaginatively rewriting South African past in his first post-apartheid novel, Imaginings of Sand. It explores a variety of counter-narratives to the dominant historical discourse of the country’s violent past that the text offers and seeks to inscribe the novel into the wider context of South African literature of transition. Contrary to what a number of literary critics have asserted, the article sets out to prove that far from claiming any form of ideological primacy, Imaginings of Sand and its counter-narratives, through a variety of subversive and contestational techniques, not only encourage the reader to deconstruct the dominant historical discourse of South African past but also undermine reliability of any type of historical or literary discourse whatsoever.
  • University of Warsaw
  • Attridge, Derek and Rosemary Jolly (eds). 1998. Writing South Africa: Literature, Apartheid, and Democracy, 1970–1995. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Attwell, David. 2005. “The Experimental Turn: Experimentalism in Contemporary Fiction,” in Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History. ed. David Attwell. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 169–204.
  • Barker, Derek Alan. 2008. “Escaping the Tyranny of Magic Realism? A Discussion of the Term in Relation to the Novels of Zakes Mda,” Postcolonial Text. Vol. 4, No 2: 1–20 Brink, André.
  • Barker, Derek Alan. 1994. S.A. 27 April 1994: An Author’s Diary. Pretoria, Cape Town: Queillerie.
  • Barker, Derek Alan. 1996. “Reinventing a Continent,” in Reinventing a Continent, Writing and Politics in South Africa 1982–1995, André Brink. London: Secker & Warburg, 230–246.
  • Barker, Derek Alan. 1997. Imaginings of Sand. London: Minerva.
  • Barker, Derek Alan. 1998. “Interrogating Silence: New Possibilities Faced by South African Literature,” in Derek Attridge – Rosemary Jolly (eds), 14–28.
  • Brown, Duncan and Bruno Van Dyk (eds). 1991. Exchanges: South African Writing in Transition. Pietermaritzburg: Univeristy of Natal Press.
  • Cooper, Brenda. 1998. Magical Realism in West African Fiction: Seeing with a Third Eye. New York: Routledge.
  • de Kok, Ingrid. 1998. “Cracked Heirlooms: Memory on Exhibition,” in Nuttall and Coetzee (eds), 57–71.
  • Dixon, Shelley. 2004. “‘Stories or History’?: Female Counter Narratives in Andre Brink’s Imaginings of Sand,” AUMLA : Journal of the Australasian Universities Modern Language Association. 101 < Accessed: 06.02.2012>
  • Keenan, John. 1996. “André Brink,” The Good Book Guide Magazine, March, p. 3.
  • Knapp, Adrian. 2006. The Past Coming to Roost in The Present: Historicizing History in Four Post-Apartheid South African Novels. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag.
  • Kossew, Sue. 1997. “Reinventing History; Reimagining the Novel: The Politics of Reading André Brink’s ’Imaginings of Sand’ ,” Journal of Literary Studies 13.1–2: 113–26.
  • Lazarus, Neil. 2011. The Postcolonial Unconscious. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mkhize, Jabulani. 2001. “Literary Prospects in ‘Post-Apartheid’ South Africa,” Alternation 8.1: 170–187.
  • Moi, Toril. 1985. Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory. London: Routledge
  • Nuttall, S. and C. Coetzee (eds). 1998. Negotiating the Past: The Making of Memory in South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.
  • Petzold, Jochen. 2007. “Translating the Great Trek to the Twentieth Century”: English in Africa 34 No.1: 115–131.
  • Said, Edward. 1983. “The World, the Text, and the Critic,” in The World, the Text, and the Critic. Edward Said. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 31–53.
  • Samuelson, Meg. 2007. Remembering the Nation, Dismembering Women? Stories of the South African Transition. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
  • Stander, Christell and Hein Willemse. 1992. “Winding through Nationalism, Patriarchy, Privilege and Concern: A Selected Overview of Afrikaans Women Writers,” Research in African Literatures. 23(3): 5–24.
  • van der Vlies, Andrew. 2008. “On the Ambiguities of Narrative and of History: Writing (about) the Past in Recent South African Literary Criticism,” Journal of Southern African Studies, vol. 34, No. 4: 949–961.
  • van Wyk Smith, Malvern. 1990. Grounds of Conquest. A Survey of South African English Literature. Kenwyn (Cape Town): Jutalit.
  • Viljoen, Hein and Chris N. van der Merwe. 2004. Storyscapes: South African Perspectives on Literature, Space and Identity. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Warnes, Christopher. 2005. “The Hermeneutics of Vagueness,” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 41.1: 1–13.
  • Wenzel, Marita. 2004. “The Latin American Connection: History, Memory and Stories in Novels by Isabel Allende and André Brink,” in Hein Viljoen and Chris N. van der Merwe (eds), 71–88.
  • White, Hayden. 1978. Tropics of Discourse. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.
  • Wroe, Nicholas. 2004. ”Out of the laager,” The Guardian 14 August 2004 <> Accessed: 09.02.2012.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.