Gillian Gane


Coincidentally two major novels about the New South Africa both have protagonists called David; David Lurie in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace is an aging white man, ‘a moral dinosaur’, in his daughter’s words (89), a man unwilling to change in a world that is changing: ‘I am not prepared to be reformed’, he says (77). David Dirkse in Zoe Wicomb’s David’s Story, by contrast, has devoted his life to bringing about political change in South Africa; he has long been involved in the guerrilla struggle and holds high office in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress. Like his comrade-in-arms Dulcie, he is ‘coloured’, in the traditional South African terminology; one strand of the novel is about his quest for his ancestors among the Griqua, a people tracing their ancestry back to the earliest Khoi inhabitants of South Africa, but mixed with many other racial groups.1



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