Lewis Nkosi (1936-2010)

Acclaimed Durban writer Lewis Nkosi died this week.

Lewis Nkosi’s influence as both writer and critic has been profound as numerous reviews, references to his work and interchanges with his contemporaries confirm. However, given his at times harsh criticism of South African writing during the apartheid era, together with his exile from South Africa, his reputation within the country was for some time less secure than it was in America and Europe. His significance stems from the fact that he was, until his death, one of the very few surviving members of the Drum generation of writers of the 50s, one who continued to write throughout the apartheid and post-apartheid decades. Even into his seventies, he recorded and commented upon an extraordinary period of South African history. Nkosi was also remarkable for using a wide variety of genres to express his forthright views: critical essays, short stories, plays, novels, poetry, even a libretto.

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