Original Research

One rainbow, one nation, one tongue singing: whiteness in post-apartheid pulp fiction

M.E. West
Literator | Vol 32, No 3 | a208 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v32i3.208 | © 2011 M.E. West | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2011 | Published: 30 July 2011

About the author(s)

M.E. West, Department of Language & Literature, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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A certain brand of fiction has become popular in post-apartheid South Africa that accounts for the relative success of Susan Mann‟s “One tongue singing” (2005). This article seeks to examine the implications of narratives such as this in revealing the normative assumptions that might inform text and reception a decade into a new democracy. It begins with an overview of whiteness studies as a post-colonial frame of reference useful in gauging the continued hegemonic normativity of whiteness as a cultural affiliation. This is followed by an analysis of Mann‟s novel. I argue that it is precisely in fiction such as this – massproduced for a white middle-class, mostly female readership both here and abroad – that there is ample evidence of the kinds of normative assumptions that whiteness studies attempts to make visible. I demonstrate that despite the writer‟s liberal and politically correct attempts to negotiate the politics of race, gender and class, her narrative inadvertently reinforces stereotypes that it ostensibly challenges. Thus it exhibits the discursive limits and powers of the most readily available reading matter this country has to offer.


Susan Mann; One Tongue Singing; Post-Apartheid Fiction; Post-Colonial Whiteness Studies


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