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Notes from the Middle World
An acclaimed South African writer, freedom fighter, and artist illuminates the labyrinth of our political present.

Praise for Breyten Breytenbach's Return to Paradise:

"This wonderful book . . . is written with a wild heart and an unrelenting eye, and is fueled by the sort of rage that produces great literature."—The Washington Post

What is the place of the artist and writer in a globalized world? In dialogue with the voices of the dead and the living—Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama— internationally distinguished South African artist, activist, and writer Breyten Breytenbach's new collection of essays traces the collisions between utopia and disaster, political trauma, and the renewal of hope. Notes from the Middle World is a beautiful and heartwrenching book. These essays include a glimpse of a buried language created in the Hunan province by and for women, an open letter to Nelson Mandela reflecting on the perilous state of post-apartheid South Africa, and existential and linguistic explorations. Against the conformity of power, Breytenbach takes readers on a journey through the "Middle World," an imagined space beyond borders and exile, toward an embracing vision of justice for the "un-citizens" post-modernity has dispossessed.

A native of South Africa, Breyten Breytenbach is a distinguished painter, activist, and prolific writer. His most recent writing has been published in Harper's Magazine. From 1975–1982, he was a political prisoner serving solitary confinement in South African prisons. Today, Breytenbach is a Global Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at New York University.

Reviews
  • Praise for Breytenbach's Return to Paradise: "This wonderful book is written with a wild heart and an unrelenting eye, and is fueled by the sort of rage that produces great literature." --The Washington Post "Protean, funny, bitchy, beautifully written and searingly bleak . . . As in all of Mr. Breytenbach's writing, the lyrical pleasures here are intense." --The New York Times Book Review