Ivan Vladislavić

Double Negative

Dropout Neville Lister accompanies acclaimed photographer Saul Auerbach for a day, to learn a lesson for life. They play a game: from a hill above Johannesburg they pick three houses and decide to knock on their doors in search of a story. Auerbach’s images of the first two will become classic portraits, but soon the light fades. Lister only reaches the third house decades later, returning to post-apartheid South Africa and a Johannesburg altered almost beyond recognition. How to live when estranged from your birthplace? What do you lose when you are no longer lost?

Double Negative is a subtle triptych that captures the ordinary life of Neville Lister during South Africa’s extraordinary revolution. Ivan Vladislavić lays moments side by side like photographs on a table. He lucidly portrays a city and its many lives through reflections on memory, art and what we should really be looking for.

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More Info

  • With an introduction by Teju Cole.
  • Double Negative was shortlisted for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize 2011 and won the University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize 2010/11.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before this book went to the printers, you would have received the first edition of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication, as well as up to 5 other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing here.
Print status: Available
Original language: English
Format: B-format paperback with flaps
Publication date: 1 November 2013
ISBN: 9781908276261
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276278
Availability: World (excl South Africa)
Number of pages: 256


Teju Cole

‘Vladislavić’s narrative intelligence [is] nowhere more visible than in his way with language itself. Each section is perfectly judged; we enter incidents in medias res – as though they were piano études – and exit them before we have overstayed our welcome.’

Patrick Flanery
The Guardian

‘Vladislavić is sensitively attuned to the uncanny phenomena that explode from the social fault lines of his city.’

Ted Hodgkinson
Times Literary Supplement

‘Well received in his homeland, this publication marks the long-overdue arrival of one of South Africa’s most finely tuned observers.’

Neel Mukherjee
The Independent

‘This book coheres resplendently by its metaphorical underpinnings, by something rare in the world of contemporary fiction: meaning … Double Negative listens carefully to the sound of the ebb and flow of history and transcribes it in lucid, rigorous prose; Vladislavić is no minor congener of Sebald.’

Levi Asher

‘A tone of bemused artistic entrapment in random patterns permeates this wonderfully soft-spoken novel, which reminds me very much of the work of J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald and P. Auster. Double Negative even feels slightly fresher than the recent publications from these three giants of quirky flat-voiced first-person narrative postmodernism.'