Zoe Wicomb: October: Works Entry

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Over the last two decades, South African literature has produced some of the most fascinating explorations of temporary return visits and permanent homecomings. An eclectic range of writers such as Zakes Mda in The Heart of Redness (2000), Nadine Gordimer in No Time Like the Present (2012) and Mongane Wally Serote in Rumours (2013) interrogate the exile’s permanent journey home as participating in the construction of a New South Africa. The temporary return home visit is explored by Anne Landsman in The Rowing Lesson (2007), Marlene van Niekerk in Agaat (2006) and Zoë Wicomb in October (2014). Notably, the return of the protagonist in the latter three novels is prompted by the imminent death of a family member. It is Wicomb, however, who interrogates the notion of ‘home’ further than her contemporaries. While her earlier work is preoccupied with the racial tensions of apartheid, Wicomb’s more recent works – namely, the short-story collection, The One That Got Away (2009) and October – contemplate a redefinition of ‘home’ amidst the complexities of global transnationalism. Both of these novels explore mobile identities through “individual circumstances and interpersonal relationships, forwards into the globalised present” (Eastley, 2017: 157).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
JournalThe Literary Encyclopedia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2020


  • Zoë Wicomb
  • October
  • Works Entry
  • South African Literature


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