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Ivan Vladislavic
Pretoria 17 Sept. 1957 • South African novelist, short story writer, and editor

photo: Minky Schlesinger

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Ivan Vladislavic, born in Pretoria in 1957, moved to Johannesburg in the seventies to study at Wits and has lived in the city ever since. He has published four other books of fiction, Missing Persons, The Folly, Propaganda by Monuments and The Restless Supermarket. His work has won the Olive Schreiner Prize, the CNA Award and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and has been translated into several languages.
As an editor, Ivan Vladislavic has worked with many of South Africa's
major writers. His own edited publications include blank_Architecture, apartheid and after (with Hilton Judin) and Tkama-Adamastor: Inventions of Africa in a South African Painting (on the canvas by Cyril Coetzee).
For the past few years he has been preoccupied with a series of short texts on Johannesburg, some of which have already appeared alongside photographs by David Goldblatt and Roger Palmer. The full sequence will be published under the title Portrait with Keys.

Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino, 1972
"Whenever I wander through Marco Polo's cities, through places like Sophronia, Eutropia, Zemrude and Aglaura, I find blueprints for my own fictions. I take Invisible Cities as a magical handbook for understanding perceptions of place."

The Ballad of the Sad Café
Carson McCullers, 1951
"Shows how dreary a town can be when it doesn't have a café. McCullers wrote the loveliest, most lyrical prose, but she was not a softie. No matter how often I come to the epilogue of this novel, 'The Twelve Mortal Men', it still takes my breath away."

Andrei Bely, 1916 (publ. in Berlin in 1922)
"Alexander Ivanovich discovers in a delirium that Petersburg - let's say any city large and difficult enough to make people lose or find themselves in it - 'is the fourth dimension which is not indicated on maps, which is indicated merely by a dot.'"

Oxford English Dictionary
John Simpson (Chief Editor), 3rd Edition in the making
"I believe in the virtues of reading the dictionary. Aubrey Tearle, the hero of my novel, is particularly fond of the fourth edition of the Pocket Oxford, but the greatest dictionary reader I've come across, the artist Willem Boshoff, started with the 6th edition of the Concise."


The Restless Supermarket
–› Excerpt

The etymologically dazzling story of Hillbrow's makeover from frayed Euro-café society to shabby Afro-soul.

Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe, 1958
The life of Okonkwo, the leader of an Igbo (Ibo) community, from the events leading up to his banishment from the community for accidentally killing a clansman, through the seven years of his exile, to his return.

The Famished Road
Ben Okri, 1991
Azaro is a spirit child, born to live only a short while before returning to the idyllic world of his spirit companions. Now he has chosen to stay in the world of the living and this is his story.

J.M. Coetzee, 1999
After an impulsive affair with his student sours, David Lurie retreats to his daughter Lucy's isolated smallholding. For a time, his daughter's influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonize his discordant life. Then he and Lucy become victims of a disturbing attack which brings into relief all their faultlines.

Author, 0000
More to come...

The History of the Siege of Lisbon
José Saramago, 1989
"After my novel appeared, a dozen people advised me to read this - the story of how a proofreader changed the course of history by tinkering with a sentence - and I am passing on their good advice."

The Structure of Things Then
David Goldblatt, 1998
"Goldblatt has been photographing Johannesburg for fifty years, often returning to the same places, building up echoing galleries of images. He has seen every change in the city with a clear eye. His best pictures are worth a thick volume of prose (or three slim volumes of poetry)."

Welcome to Our Hillbrow
Phaswane Mpe, 2001
"This quirky, complex short novel was published in the same year as my own and deals with the same inner-city suburb. The periods overlap: just as my elderly white characters are leaving Hillbrow, feeling disgruntled and displaced, Mpe's young black characters are arriving full of expectation, hoping to 'come up with their own stories'."

Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8)
Sandy Balfour, 2003
"Balfour was born in South Africa but moved to England more than twenty years ago. His book is both an insightful account of exile and a loving exploration of the history and philosophy of the crossword puzzle."

Missing Persons
A collection of short stories reflecting the transitional phase in South Africa's history.
The Folly
A vacant patch of South African veld is taken over by a mysterious eccentric figure with a plan.
Propaganda by Monuments
Stories, including 'The Tuba', 'Autopsy', 'Whites Only Bench', 'The Omniscope (pat. pending)', 'The Book Lover', 'Alphabets for Surplus People', 'Courage', 'Isle of Capri', 'Kidnapped' and 'The Firedogs'.
The Exploded View
A quartet of stories revolving around four men in Johannesburg, each trying to make sense of a changed world after the demise of apartheid.
Portrait with Keys
A book about a city that has been described as ‘the Venice of the South’, Portrait with Keys is a portrait of life in Johannesburg - and ‘what-what’: home, habit, change, memory, mortality, friendship, ghosts, gardens, walking, falling, selling, stealing...
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The Ledge
editor-in-chief: Stacey Knecht,
Thanks to: De digitale pioniers and
Het Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Design: Maurits de Bruijn

Copyright: Pieter Steinz, Stacey Knecht
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author.