Ivan Vladislavic: Double Negative


The latest addition to my website is Ivan Vladislavic‘s Double Negative. This is Vladislavic’s most recent novel and, while a fine work, not quite of the same standard of his earlier work. It is divided into three sections, the first set during apartheid in South Africa, the second just after the end of apartheid and third somewhat later. It tells the story of Neville Lister who eventually becomes a photographer. In the earlier part, he meets Saul Auerbach, who takes Neville on a photographic expedition with a British journalist. In particular, they visit a street where poor blacks live and photograph two people in their houses. These photographs become famous and the whole experience has a profound influence on Neville. He will later become a successful photographer and return to the same houses. The two issues – photography and apartheid – are used to show the two key themes of the novel. These are the nature of art and the role of the good man in a bad situation. Vladislavic tells his story well and makes his point but I still preferred his earlier two novels.

Leave a comment