Portrait with Keys, Paperback Book


An insider capable of revealing his city's spirit and its reality - combines the eloquence of Morris on Trieste with the precision of Cartier-Bresson on Paris.

It is suitable for those who want to put their faith in a writer who knows - and loves - his city from the inside out: Suketu Mehta's "Maximum City", Edmund White's "The Flaneur", Orhan Pamuk's "Istanbul", Joseph Brodsky's "Watermark".

In the wake of Apartheid, the flotsam of the divided past flows over Johannesburg and settles, once the tides recede, around Ivan Vladislavic, who, patrolling his patch, surveys the changed cityscape and tries to convey for us the nature and significance of those changes.

He roams over grassy mine-dumps, sifting memories, picking up the odd glittering item here and there, before everything of value gets razed or locked away behind one or other of the city's fortifications.

For this is now a city of alarms, locks and security guards, a frontier place whose boundaries are perpetually contested, whose inhabitants are 'a tribe of turnkeys'.

Vladislavic, this clerk of mementoes, stands still, watches, and writes: and his astonishing city comes within our reach.




Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops

Also by Ivan Vladislavic   |  View all