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Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked

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“Surely one of the most ingenious love letters—full of violence, fear, humour, and cunning—ever addressed to a city.” —Geoff Dyer
This dazzling portrait of Johannesburg is one of the most haunting, poetic pieces of reportage about a metropolis since Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City. Through precisely crafted snapshots, Ivan Vladislavic observes the unpredictable, day-today transformation of his embattled city: the homeless using manholes as cupboards, a public statue slowly cannibalized for scrap. Most poignantly he charts the small, devastating changes along the postapartheid streets: walls grow higher, neighborhoods are gated off, the keys multiply. Security—insecurity?—is the growth industry. Vladislavic, described as “one of the most imaginative minds at work in South African literature today” (André Brink), delivers “one of the best things ever written about a great, if schizophrenic, city, and an utterly true picture of the new South Africa” (Christopher Hope).

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 01, 2009 – In a post-apartheid world, the city of Johannesburg is a complicated place: racial divides still run deep, inextricably interwoven with crime and poverty, and endlessly complicated as the haves and have-nots negotiate new arrangements defined in terms of protection, invasion, and a tenuous level of common feeling. Novelist and Johannesburg resident Vladislavic recounts his day-to-day experiences and examines them from a step removed, watching as his city grows more obsessed with security: walls grow higher, neighbors more suspicious, private security forces more prevalent (hired even for middle class dinner parties). Vladislavic is exploring revolutionary ground, providing one of the most detailed looks yet at the post-apartheid city, helping define it as he ventures through it. Vladislavic can ramble, but does so with humor and care, while offering much insight on class and race relations, and urban survival in general; neither does he resort to overheated righteousness. While a certain amount of fluency in South African culture may be necessary to fully appreciate it, this book with intrigue any reader with its intense, you-are-there depiction of a city in flux.
Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Essays & Memoirs
  • Published: Jun 01, 2009
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 208 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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