Double Negative, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


"One of the most imaginative minds at work in South African literature today."--Andre BrinkOriginally part of a collaborative project with photographer David Goldblatt, Double Negative is a subtle triptych that captures the ordinary life of Neville Lister during South Africa's extraordinary revolution.

Ivan Vladislavic lays moments side by side like photographs on a table.

He lucidly portrays a city and its many lives through reflections on memory, art, and what we should really be seeking.Ivan Vladislavic is the author of a number of prize-winning fiction and nonfiction books.

He currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.


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I had started this book before reading Runner, which took only two plus days. Not that I wasn't enjoying this one, but I was donating platelets and took Runner with me, because I thought it would require less focus and this book seemed like it would be difficult to read with only one hand to manipulate it.The book action takes place mostly in Johannesburg South Africa, before and after the end of apartheid. The writer is a young college dropout when the book opens. He father is concerned that he is drifting and not applying himself appropriately, so he arranges for him to spend some time with a well known artistic photographer, as he goes about Johannesburg taking photos.The writing is high quality. Consider this example from the end of the first part of the book, “Young people learn things intensely. They're impressionable, we say. The proper image is not a tabula rasa, we are not written upon or etched or branded, but moulded from a substance already dense with thought and feeling. Our teachers reach into us, skilfully or clumsily, it's the luck of the draw, and shape this substance, they make ridges there, hollows and curves, and perception runs over them, bending to the contours, breaking against the sharp edges repeatedly, until they are as familiar as the roof of your mouth to your tongue. Experience swirls through these channels like water over rock, being shaped in turn and given a new direction. The day had diverted a current in me, but I could neither express this change nor predict its issue.”(After reading this passage I ran my tongue against the roof of my mouth.)

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