David Attwell

David Attwell works at the University of York in the UK, but he has tough old roots in South Africa. He is currently on leave with a Leverhulme Fellowship, writing a book on Coetzee. He and Derek Attridge have edited The Cambridge History of South African Literature, due for release next month.

Corrupted by Jonathan Jansen: a book review

David Attwell Books and writers 2023-05-18

"If 'corrupted' in his title seems like an exaggeration, read the book. It is soul-destroying to see such evidence of institutions that ought to be custodians of the highest standards in civil society being so susceptible to looting, extortion, fraud, bullying, even assassinations. Many of our universities are in the same state as the most beleaguered of our municipalities and state-owned enterprises."

My thirty-minute bar mitzvah by Denis Hirson: a son’s reckoning with his father’s political idealism

David Attwell Books and writers 2023-01-11

"My thirty-minute bar mitzvah raises awkward questions around the genre of political memoir in South Africa, which has tended to celebrate 'the insistent, long-distance, sweet-as-blood siren-call of the Struggle'."

David Attwell, translator Henrietta Rose-Innes and Etienne van Heerden discuss A library to flee

David Attwell, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Etienne van Heerden Books and writers 2022-11-18

Listen to a podcast of the discussion, see photos of the launch and read the text of David Attwell’s introduction at the Exclusive Books launch of A library to flee at the Cape Town Waterfront on 9 November 2022. 

Full particulars podcast: Migrant being in the Jesus novels

David Attwell, JM Coetzee, Derek Attridge, Elleke Boehmer, Robert Pippin Books and writers 2022-03-15

In the sixth episode of his podcast series Full particulars, David Attwell discusses JM Coetzee's enigmatic Jesus trilogy with Robert Pippin (University of Chicago), Derek Attridge (University of York), and Elleke Boehmer (University of Oxford). With a reading from The death of Jesus by JM Coetzee.

On The fall of the University of Cape Town by David Benatar: a discussion

David Attwell, Bernard Kripke Universiteitseminaar | University Seminar 2022-01-11

"Even if it doesn’t feel like we live in a rights-based constitutional democracy with equal access to the law and to the free exchange of ideas, which is what universities are for, we have no option but to continue to believe and act as if we do. Perhaps that explains his determination to hold on to the idea that people can and should do better. It’s part of his belief in the university as an institution."

Full particulars podcast: Orality and the novel, Zakes Mda’s The Wayfarers' Hymns

David Attwell, Zakes Mda Books and writers 2021-12-09

In this, the fifth episode of his monthly podcast series, David Attwell talks to Zakes Mda about his latest, and possibly his last, novel. 

Full particulars: Confessional fiction for a desolate age

David Attwell, Mphuthumi Ntabeni Books and writers 2021-10-20

In this episode of his monthly podcast David Attwell talks to Mphuthumi Ntabeni about his tour de force, The Wanderers (2021). Ntabeni’s first novel, The Broken River Tent (2017) won the UJ Prize for debut fiction.

An island by Karen Jennings: a book review

David Attwell Books and writers 2021-09-29

"An island is an ethically driven and formally accomplished novel."

Full particulars podcast: Nostalgia for the future – writing crime in a time of state capture

David Attwell, Margie Orford Books and writers 2021-08-25

In this episode of his monthly podcast David Attwell talks to Margie Orford about crime writing and her Clare Hart series of crime novels, which ended with the publication of Water Music in 2013.

The promise by Damon Galgut: a book review

David Attwell Books and writers 2021-08-02

"The promise is a major achievement, fully deserving its place on the Man Booker Prize longlist."

Full particulars: Where in the world is the South?

David Attwell, Antjie Krog, Carrol Clarkson, Elleke Boehmer Books and writers 2021-07-21

In this second episode of David Attwell’s monthly podcast, Full particulars, David hosts Elleke Boehmer and Carrol Clarkson in discussion of the South as a place of literary imagining. Guest appearance by Antjie Krog.  

Full particulars: A podcast on historical fiction – David Attwell in conversation with Zoë Wicomb and Andrew van der Vlies

David Attwell, Zoë Wicomb, Andrew van der Vlies Books and writers 2021-06-23

In this first episode of David Attwell's monthly podcast, Full particulars, David hosts Zoë Wicomb reading from her new novel, Still life (Umuzi, 2020) and discusses historical (meta)fiction with Andrew van der Vlies, professor of English at the University of Adelaide.

David Attwell and Derek Attridge respond to the reviews of The Cambridge History of South African Literature

Derek Attridge, David Attwell 2012-10-18 "It is true that the book is produced in English by a global publisher based in the UK, but how else do we tell the story of South Africa’s literatures to as wide a readership as possible?"