To be stranger in a language. ‘The Swan Whisperer’ by Marlene van Niekerk

This is a tale of transmission, disappearance, and utterance, of writing as it hovers at the edge of language, trafficking with the ephemeral and the unreliable; challenging the primacy of the written text through a compelling reflection on flow and interference, rhythms and non-origin. A tale of listening as the rebeginning of writing; of people missing but resounding through words whose meaning is lost (or maybe it was never there completely): it has to be made anew every time. A story of speech emerged from and given back to birds, wind and water, a story of speech into landscape. A tale of writing as divining and impure continuity.

My review of Marlene van Niekerk’s beguiling text The Swan Whisperer (The Cahiers Series, 2015) is now published on Music & Literature.

I have a lot more to think and write around / from / for van Niekerk’s text. Mostly about the density and pacing of the prose. This will happen in my next book.

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