"The Long and the Short of It: Reflections on 'Form' in Recent South African Fiction"

2012. Kritika Kultura 18: 177-196.

This paper takes as its starting point not those aspects of ‘form’ associated with ‘formalist’ criticism – structure, prose style, figurative language or other aesthetic elements – but rather the more mundane consideration of length and the related matter of genre. This is a deliberately literal (rather than literary) interpretation of ‘form’: what does a book look and feel like when held in the reader’s hand? What reader expectations are aroused? From the answers to these questions, it is argued, can be discerned certain trends in recent (post-apartheid/transitional) fiction – or, more specifically, in writing and publishing practices.