Resident Alien Rian Malan

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Resident Alien  by  Rian Malan

Resident Alien by Rian Malan
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An intriguing read, as (a) someone interested in but hardly immersed in the details of South African politics and society- (b) a big fan of Hunter S. Thompson, the American writer to whom he tends to be compared in bookfront blurbs.His prose style is engaging - he does make heavy use of an informal style cribbed directly from HST & Tom Wolfe, but shows more comfort with more classic journalistic and essay styles, and is fairly adept at shifting when necessary (often given the amount of exposition added for non-RSA audiences.) And the subject matter is far ranging and never boring, if only because of my own lack of familiarity with the events and people discussed.

Its all new to me, even if the South African broadsheets have beaten the stories to death.The problem with Malans work is the persistent racism that pops up in his discussion of black South Africans. He caveats, heavily rationalizes, does guilty white guy confessions, and plays up his Traitors Heart conceit to mitigate it- but you cannot ignore that he is consumed with shooting down black leaders and political organizations (based on the inordinate energy he spends doing so), and carelessly perpetuates tropes of the savage native when discussing everything from musical history to basic slice-of-life personal interactions.

He really seems to have it in for the Zulus.I would recommend reading _My Traitors Heart_ before or in lieu of this one - I wish I had done the same to get a better background & handle on his long-form work before experiencing his more condensed / opinion-oriented pieces, which are more susceptible to the aforementioned racist hit pieces with less room to develop context.



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