Wicomb, Zoë 1948–

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Zoë Wicomb 1948-

South African short story writer and novelist.


Wicomb is an author and educator who is best known for the short story collection You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town (1987). Written during her self-imposed twenty-year exile from her native South Africa, the semi-autobiographical work is a collection of connected stories featuring mixed-race South Africans—called "coloured" by the apartheid government—and their lives and experiences somewhere between white and black society. Wicomb, who was herself labeled "coloured," writes out of her own experience as a black woman from South Africa, depicting her characters' search for identity amid the discrimination and the racial ambiguity they experience as members of the "coloured" community. Wicomb has also published two novels, David's Story (2001) and Playing in the Light (2006).


Wicomb was born in 1948 in rural Little Namaqualand, in a Griqua community in South Africa's Cape Province (now the Western Cape of South Africa). Her mother, Rachel Le Fleur, died when Wicomb was a young girl; she was subsequently raised by her father, Robert Wicomb, a schoolteacher who strongly encouraged his daughter to master the English language and assimilate into British society, believing these to be vital to her future success. At her father's urging, she attended an English secondary school in Cape Town, then the "coloured" University of the Western Cape (a school for mixed-race South Africans), where she received an undergraduate degree in English in 1968. In the early 1970s she left South Africa for England, where she completed a second B.A. at Reading University in 1973 and taught in Nottingham. Active in the anti-apartheid movement, she also embarked on a literary career, founding and editing the London-based Southern African Review of Books and writing her collection of short stories, You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town. After living in Glasgow for a time, earning a master's degree in 1989 from the University of Strathclyde, she returned to South Africa in the early 1990s, where she taught in the English department at the University of the Western Cape. She subsequently returned to Glasgow to lecture in English studies at the University of Strathclyde. She has also served as writer in residence at the universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow.


The semi-autobiographical You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town is narrated from the perspective of Frieda Shenton, a South African "coloured" woman who, throughout the course of the tales, grows from a young girl into an adult writer. Taking place between the 1950s and the 1980s, the ten stories are all set in either Cape Town or Namaqualand and revolve around how Frieda's identity is shaped by the race, class, and gender-based biases she faces, and how she attempts to bypass her classification as a lower-class, impure member of the "coloured" society in order to forge her own individuality. In the title story, Wicomb addresses relations between the races as the narrator tells of her abortion of the child she conceived with her white lover; "Home Sweet Home" recounts the alienation Frieda feels upon returning to her rural home after being educated in the city; "Ash on My Sleeve" tells of Frieda's visit to a friend who is content to live in a "coloured" section of Cape Town and participate in a cultural organization for blacks; and "A Trip to the Gifberge" turns on the themes of rediscovery, reconnection, and unification, as Frieda's mother imparts to her daughter her firm belief that colonialism has neither destroyed their connection to their homeland nor stripped them of their identity.

In 2002 Wicomb won the South African M-Net Literary Prize for her first novel, David's Story. Set in 1991, the novel opens as Nelson Mandela is being released from prison and the African National Congress has been legalized. The protagonist is David Dirkse, a "coloured" anti-apartheid activist married to fellow protester Sally. Leaving his wife and children for the town of Kokstad in order to research his roots, David takes a lover, Dulcie, who has suffered torture and rape. The history of Griqualand is revealed through David's discovery that he is descended from Andries Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur, who brought the Griqua tribe into the desert during the nineteenth century. Wicomb's second novel, Playing in the Light, is set in the post-apartheid Cape Town of the 1990s. Revolving around the search for identity and the metaphor of travel as a means to uncover the truth of one's roots and the reality of South Africa's past, the novel turns on the protagonist, Marion Campbell, owner of a travel agency, who eventually discovers that although she had thought of herself as white, she is in reality part "coloured."


Overall, Wicomb's writings have received acclaim from critics. She has been called a talented storyteller whose prose is lyrical as well as tightly constructed, and has been regarded as part of a new trend in South African writing. According to critics, she opposes the impulse to view her fiction as autobiographical, and thwarts such attempts by using narrative strategies like the resurrection of characters—the mother in You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town, for instance, resurfaces in one of the last tales, after being thought dead in earlier stories. Focusing on the political nature of her writings, commentators have also assessed her work in relation to her perspective as a feminist writer from South Africa, with critical discussion revolving around her belief that the battle against the black patriarchy should coincide with the struggle against apartheid and other racial injustices. Her attitude toward her homeland has been analyzed as well; many commentators find that her writings evoke ambiguous feelings of both love and repulsion for the racially segregated country of her birth. Regarding You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town in particular, observers have commented favorably on her ability to mix personal stories with South African history and have noted that she uses everyday details in order to generate a new political consciousness among readers.


You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town (short stories) 1987

David's Story (novel) 2001

Playing in the Light (novel) 2006


Constance S. Richards (essay date 1995)

SOURCE: Richards, Constance S. "Transnational Feminist Reading; The Case of Cape Town." In On the Winds and Waves of Imagination: Transnational Feminism and Literature, pp. 73-102. New York: Garland Publishing, 2000.

[In this essay, Richards discusses You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town in terms of South African postprotest literature, claiming that "politically committed writing such as Wicomb's in postcolonial South Africa acknowledges its dependence on protest literature, a counternarrative to colonialist representations which laid the groundwork for the institution of apartheid."]

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

This text has been suppressed due to author restrictions.

Constance S. Richards (essay date spring 2005)

SOURCE: Richards, Constance S. "Nationalism and the Development of Identity in Postcolonial Fiction: Zoë Wicomb and Michelle Cliff." Research in African Literatures 36, no. 1 (spring 2005): 20-33.

[In the excerpt that follows, Richards uses the "phases in the process of cultural decolonization" that are spelled out in Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth to examine how the development of a national consciousness affects the identity of the narrator-protagonist of You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town.]

This essay will attempt to explain the role of nationalism as a site of awakening and identity formation in postcolonial literary texts. I have chosen to dislodge the "awakening" trope from a center of Western feminist literary studies, that is, from Kate Chopin's novella The Awakening (1899) and relocate it in other experiences of empire where awakenings also take place. This approach sees national consciousness as a transitional step, a site that provides a certain kind of awakening, and not as the end of a process. Nationalism, or national consciousness, in the Fanonian sense, is a phase leading to transnationalism. The movement from nationalism to internationalism, however, does not forsake the concern of local populations, but rather recognizes the systemic relationship of national causes to global capitalism.

This essay is particularly concerned with South African author Zoë Wicomb's You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town (1987) and West Indian writer Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven (1987). These texts represent, directly and indirectly, the role Black nationalism can play in the awakening phase of female literary characters in postcolonial texts by women writers. These works elucidate the fractured reality of national identity and women's struggle to negotiate the complexities of the postcolonial condition.1

In Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon observes that the colonized indigenous writer/artist engages in certain phases in the process of cultural de-colonization, the first of these being a reification of European culture, the need to prove that she/he is capable of mastering these forms. Written literature is validated over oral; Western literary forms (the novel, for example) are preferred to indigenous orality; mastery of European language becomes a goal.

Assimilation of the European culture is achieved, however, at the expense of the artist's connection to his/her own cultural history. The struggle between colonial and indigenous cultural identity moves the writer/artist to a romantic immersion into the precolonial stage of African identity, Fanon's second phase. Fanon suggests that the "native writer" turns to childhood memories—"old legends will be reinterpreted in the light of a borrowed estheticism and of a conception of the world which was discovered under other skies."

          (Wretched 222)

We see this focus in the work of some writers of African descent in the United States.2 In Praisesong for the Widow (1983), for example, Caribbean American writer Paule Marshall's protagonist Avey Johnson attempts to retrieve the past in order to make sense of her middle-class and middle-aged widowhood. Her interaction with Eebert Joseph and the Old People of Carriacou, who annually celebrate the remaining fragments of their African identity in the "nations dance," marks the beginning of Avey's immersion phase. Her awakening in Carriacou comes with the realization of a common history that connects what she sees on this island to her own family history. The root of her identity, compromised by her assimilation to middle-class America, she comes to understand, lies in the common struggle of Black people everywhere. With this knowledge she goes back to the cradle of her family history in the Black diaspora, to Tatem Island, the Sea Island land of her Aunt Cuney and her female ancestral community, where she must continue the struggle. A more localized model of the immersion phase can be seen in Janie Crawford's journey to the Black everglades community of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). This journey marks Janie's rejection of the assimilationist preoccupation with northern urban capitalism, represented by the "male-centered, hierarchical values of [her] first two husbands, Logan Killicks and the ‘citified’ Joe Starks" (Rodgers 93). Janie's self-concept is predicated on membership in the community of rural Black folk whose culture, like that of the Carriacou people in Marshall's Praisesong, suggests a romanticized primordial African existence predating and existing outside of the internal colonization that has been the legacy of US slavery.

In terms of broad social formations, the Rastafanan movement in Jamaica utilized culture and history to affirm African identity and, in effect, revitalized the Ethopianism and Garveyism that were prominent among segments of the Black population in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.3 Culture flows between Jamaica and the US created a continuity that has, in part, shaped the imaginary of artists like Cliff and Marshall. The Black Arts Movement, the cultural arm of the Black struggle in the US in the 1960s and 70s, for example, often employed ancestral African as well as contemporary African-American images and expressions to instill racial pride and to legitimate African American cultural identity. Community-based art forms such as poetry readings and revolutionary "street" theater utilized African orality to heighten awareness of the concrete realities of the racialized system in the US.4 The Black Consciousness movement in South Africa grew out of Black student resistance to apartheid and focused on a kind of psychological liberation, a rewriting of South African history from an African perspective, and a rethinking of what it meant to be Black that challenged extant racial categories.5

The third phase in Fanon's construction, the "fighting phase," moves the native intellectual from the celebration of indigenous culture to the development of a "revolutionary literature […] a national literature" (Wretched 223). The development of a national consciousness and a national culture are seen by Fanon as inherent aspects of, and necessary steps toward, decolonization. However, according to Fanon, "[i]t is around the peoples' struggles that African-Negro culture takes on substance, and not around songs, poems, or folklore. […] Adherence to African-Negro culture and to the cultural unity of Africa is arrived at in the first place by upholding unconditionally the peoples' struggle for freedom" (Wretched 235). National culture and national consciousness in the Fanonian sense are not predicated on race or ethnicity but rather on the national interests and uplift of impoverished and oppressed populations in the cities and countryside across the whole continent of Africa….

While Fanon constructs de-colonization as a series of developmental phases, we need to understand that this process is not teleological but dialectical and ongoing. Discourses of national liberation must be examined in terms of the environment in which and for which they are generated, the historical, political, social, and economic contexts that are often the product of antagonism and contestation in fragmented societies. At the same time, national consciousness must be able to move beyond the narrowly focused binary response that is the natural result of such antagonism. A progressive position on race, for example, does not guarantee any attention to the effect of other forms of human difference. My own feminist approach would lead me to critique Fanon's binary of colonizer-colonized (Wretched of the Earth) and his focus solely on cultural difference (Black Skin, White Masks) as ignoring the multiplicitous aspects of identity, in particular issues of gender. It has, indeed, been the tendency of some deconstructionists and postmodernists,6 including some feminists and postcolonialists,7 to dismiss discourses of national liberation on the grounds of their narrow preoccupation with binary relationships and perceived lack of tolerance for individual difference. The academic field of postcolonial studies is, to a great degree, born out of postmodernist theory and to some degree replicates this distrust of counterhegemonic master narratives of liberation such as Black nationalism and Marxism. My own approach to postcolonial studies, however, understands the field as offering a way to approach discourses of national liberation with a postmodern perspective that can engage with the various aspects of identity without denying the importance of specific experience.

Postcolonial novels, such as Zoë Wicomb's You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town and Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven, suggest the important role of Black liberation discourse in identity formation, while at the same time complicate the binary discourses of race (black/white) and colonialism (colonizer/colonized) with questions of gender, sexuality, and color privilege. In both novels, the protagonists represent racial ambiguity, one a South African "coloured," Wicomb's Frida, and the other a Jamaican "mulatta," Cliff's Clare. This condition of being "not Black" and "not white," and what such liminality means in material terms in the respective sellings, provides the incentive to move the main characters through the phases that Fanon outlines. Black nationalism functions in No Telephone as a positive, though also problematic, answer to Clare Savage's childhood and adolescent sense of isolation. In Cape Town, however, protagonist Frida Shenton is left at an earlier stage of development.

Wicomb's novel is structured as a series of "story cycles" that share a setting, South Africa, a protagonist, Frida, and a focus, Frida's development as a young woman and a writer. Growing up in a South Africa still laboring under apartheid, Frida's racial identity is a matter of law; she is registered "Coloured," a category that privileges her above Black South Africans but subordinates her to whites. She is taught early on that mastery of English language and assimilation of British culture through education will be key to her success. The first chapter/story highlights around a family discussion about the correct pronunciation of an English word. Frida's parents are keen to impress upon her the importance of carefully imitating the "gentleman, a true Englishman" who owns the local gypsum mine but cannot speak a word of Afrikaans, necessitating the use of Mr. Shenton as an interpreter. Mastery of the colonial language represents cultural capital in the South Africa of Frida's childhood. The reader familiar with South African politics would also know that, as the student protest actions of the 1970s revealed, the embrace of English as a medium of instruction was a part of the Black liberation movement's program. Afrikaans was imposed upon the indigenous people and represented the brutal apartheid structure; as the language of instruction in the school system, it provided for an educated labor force whose opportunities for employment were limited to South Africa. The liberation movement understood that English, on the other hand, could open education and employment opportunities beyond those allotted by the Afrikaner regime. This politicization of English language, however, is not the Shenton's motivation; mastery of the King's English is the goal.

It is not only in their embrace of English that Frida's parents represent the first of Fanon's phases. After their forced resettlement from the rural home of Frida's childhood, her father further facilitates her assimilation of British culture by sending her away to the newly integrated, formerly white, St. Mary's, even at great expense, as there is no high school available in the "Coloured" settlement He is heartily congratulated by his neighbors for "keep [ing] up with the Boers."


By the time we see Frida as one of a small group of "Coloureds" at the University of Cape Town, a predominately white institution, she is beginning to ques- tion the hegemony of English culture and the white race. Her gender identity will not allow Frida to accept the interpretation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles that her Boer professor imposes. "The novel, he says, is about Fate. […] Seduced, my notes say […]. Can you be seduced by someone you hate?" she wonders (41). At the university she also encounters firsthand the anti-apartheid struggle, though is not yet ready to identify with it. Student activists plan to boycott the mandatory memorial service which is to mark the assassination of Prime Minsiter Verwoerd (1966). While Frida and her friend Moira participate in the boycott, they are passive participants. The student group is led by men who assume without question the support of the two women in spreading the word about the boycott but not in the planning of the event, a critique Black feminists made of the US Black nationalist movement. Wicomb further complicates her portrait of Black nationalism by challenging the assumed unity of so-called "coloureds" with the anti-apartheid movement. Despite the need for total support of the boycott in order to avoid reprisals for a few, several "coloured" young men, "future Dutch Reformed ministers" attend the memorial ceremony (56). Wicomb refuses to romanticize the liberation struggle. Not only does she bring a feminist critique to bear on any notion of unquestioned solidarity among the anti-apartheid activists, she also makes clear the psychological effects an imposed racial hierarchy can have on some of those allowed a measure of racial privilege.

Further, Wicomb suggests that these student activists must examine their own class privilege. While the students have all been informed of the intention to boycott the service, no one has thought to tell Tamieta, the "coloured" canteen worker whose narrative voice frames this chapter. The students' academic matriculation marks their membership in petit bourgeois society. While they may recognize the plight of the Blacks in the townships and the workers in the gold and diamond mines, they fail to politically connect to the laborers who are closest to them and who facilitate their very presence in the university.

Frida's color privilege and class orientation preclude her from easy association with the increasingly insistent liberation struggle. On a trip home after living in England for an extended period, she encounters a childhood love, Henry Hendrikse, whom Frida's father had dismissed as "almost pure kaffir," not acceptable in the Shenton family where the memory of their British ancestor "must be kept sacred" (116). When the adult Frida meets Flenry, while waiting to be seen at a medical clinic, he is an activist in an unnamed underground liberation movement (the banned ANC or PAC perhaps?) and has been to Namibia for training, specifically to learn the languages of Black South Africa. Frida, distanced by British education and life in England, cannot distinguish between the Xhosa and Zulu that is being spoken around them in the clinic. While Frida seems embarrassed by her discomfort among Black South Africans, she cannot see what Henry represents as a viable option. In her last interaction with Henry, he reminds her that in their youth, she publicly denied their friendship because of his color and the chapter ends with Frida's father repeating a rumor that Henry is a spy for the apartheid government. Although she has begun to feel alienated from any easy identification with England, Frida is not yet ready to relinquish the relative privilege that mixed race identity affords her in apartheid South Africa. Black nationalism, in this novel, is embodied in Henry who represents the progressive so-called "coloureds" who rejected this racial classification, embraced Black identity, and dedicated themselves to the liberation of all Black South Africans.

In terms of Fanons developmental phases, Frida cannot move directly from the reification of colonial culture, which is the stuff of her childhood, to the "fighting phase" that the adult Henry represents. Henry has immersed himself in the indigenous, precolonial culture and is now concerned with "us[ing] the past with the intention of opening up the future," to quote Fanon (232). When Frida becomes aware that his backpack contains both a map and a gun, she questions him about it. "In the bush," Henry reveals, "there's a war going on that you know nothing of, that no newspaper will tell you about" (Capetown 121). However, in You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town, we never see the protagonist awaken to the necessity of armed nationalist struggle in South Africa.

While Wicomb never moves her protagonist into direct participation in nationalism, she plants in her the seeds of distrust in the ideal of colonial culture and makes the discourse of liberation available to her. The novel closes with the suggestion, somewhat ironically from the mouth of Frida's mother, that an appreciation of indigenous culture is necessary. Frida's nascent nationalism leads her to be critical of her mother's desire for a "little white protea bush" for her garden, an indigenous plant and the official flower of the Afrikaner government (181). Her mother asserts that refusal to allow the colonial appropriation of indigenous culture is a form of resistance:

You who're so clever ought to know thai proteas belong to the veld. Those who put their stamp on things may see in it their own histories and hopes. But a bush is a bush; it doesn't become what people think they inject into it. We know who lived in these mountains when the Europeans were still shivering in their own country. What they think of the veld and its flowers is of no interest to me.


It is in the mother's words that we understand the single most important thing that all South Africans have in common. The land, and the political struggle over it, is the most basic unifying aspect of identity and, at the same time, remains the most contentious issue in South African politics today.

The 1994 national election, which brought into power a black majority government, signals the disintegration of a progressive political identity that had been based upon the rhetoric of black consciousness. While the discourses of postmodernism and postcolonialism emphasize this tendency of disintegration of national identity in postcolonial societies, they fail to account for the degree to which remnants of the colonial power structure remain, illuminating the continued relevance of some nationalist discourses, even in the present.

Zoë Wicomb cites an example of the perhaps premature embrace of postcolonial identity in the period immediately following independence in South Africa. She calls shameful the

resurgence of the term Coloured, once more capitalized, without its old prefix of so-called and without the disavowing scare quotes earned during the period of revolutionary struggle when it was replaced by the work black, indicating both a rejection of apartheid nomenclature as well as inclusion in the national liberation movement.

          ("Shame and Identity" 93)

With the dismantling of the apartheid government, the formalized identity categories against which progressive mixed-race people stood in identifying themselves as Black, are gone. Yet, in postapartheid South Africa, the strategic deployment of the term Coloured as a marker of postcolonial identity did not necessarily signal a politically progressive move. Wicomb is also critical of some Cape Coloureds for their "shameful" support as a voting block supporting the Boer Party platform during the first democratic elections on April 27, 1994:

[T]he shame of [the vote] lies not only in what we have voted against-citizenship within a democratic constitution that ensures the protection of individual rights, the enshrinement of gay and lesbian rights, the abolition of censorship and blasphemy laws—but in the amnesia with regard to the National Party's atrocities in maintaining apartheid.

          ("Shame and Identity" 99)

Postcolonial literatures can effectively use liminal categories like mixed-race identity to interrogate binary constructions in the society. In the case of Wicomb's South Africa, liminal racial categories not only serve as an instrument of discursive interrogation but also complicate social policy making and power sharing in the society ….

Although nationalism serves as a site of awakening, it does not rescue these characters from their liminal spaces; for Fanon, nationalism is itself liminal—a necessary phase. For Fanon, national consciousness is required for international consciousness: "Far from keeping aloof from other nations, therefore, it is national liberation which leads the nation to play on the stage of history. It is at the heart of national consciousness that international consciousness lives and grows" (Wretched 247-48). What Fanon is ultimately suggesting to us, if we consider the full development of his three phases, and what we can bring to our reading of postcolonial fiction, is that human struggle must move beyond local issues but not without first clearly identifying what those local issues are.


1. Referring to both novels as "postcolonial" requires some explanation of terminology. Wicomb's 1987 novel is not postindependence (1994 in South Africa) in the way Cliff's is. In her cogent discussion in "Notes on the ‘Post-Colonial,’" Ella Shohal points out that critics often use the term "post" colonial to cover a variety of situations, sometimes masking distinctions between forms of colonialism (settler as opposed to internal) and suggesting the end of something. Yet the economic and social effects of colonialism often remain after independence. In their examination of the field of postcolonial literature, The Empire Writes Back, Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin suggest that "post" be taken to mean after the moment of colonization. This blurs the temporal distinction between the colonial and postindependence periods and at the same time acknowledges that anti-colonial resistance, the process of de-colonization, often begins long before independence is achieved. It is with this in mind that I use the term for Wicomb's novel.

2. Applying Fanon's phases of cultural decolonization to African American writers requires some attention again to definitions. Anne McClintock defines colonialism as "direct territorial appropriation of another geo-political entity, combined with forthright exploitation of its resources and labor, and systematic interference in the capacity of the appropriated culture to organize its dispensations of power" (88). Internal colonization, according to McClintock, "occurs where the dominant part of a country treats a group or region as it might a foreign colony" (88). As early as 1967, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Touré) and Charles V. Hamilton articulated a theory of power relations in the US that clearly qualifies the history of people of African descent in the US as a colonial one. Even after the era of slavery, many African Americans lived in geographically segregated areas, economically and politically controlled from the outside. As yet, this population has neither emerged as an independent nation state nor become fully politically and economically integrated in the state which colonized it, either of which might qualify as "post independence." Hence the above definition of postcolonial is also useful when applied to the African American literature cited here.

3. See Moses for a history of the nineteenth-century origins of what is often called "Afrocentrism."

4. See Neal for his discussion of the role of the artist in the transformation of society and a brief history of the US Black Arts Movement.

5. See Hirschmann for a tracking of the history of the Black Consciousness Movement and its impact on South African politics, in particular, the "Main Precepts" Hirschmann articulates from the 1969 founding of SASO (South African Students Organization).

6. Aijaz Ahmad, in his response to Fredric Jameson's "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism," serves as a example. While praising Jameson's call for syllabus reform in academic literature departments to include "third world" literatures, Ahmad takes issue with Jameson's assertion that all "third world" literature is, by definition, national allegory, and that the "third world" is constituted solely by the "experience of colonialism and imperialism" (Jameson 67).

7. In the 1970s, a number of Black women, some of whom called themselves Black feminists, were critical of the focus and approach of US Black liberation movements such as the Black Panthers and Black nationalism. One of the best known is the manifesto compiled by the Combahee River Collective in 1977. Feminists and lesbians, the women of this collective had participated in these movements but were left frustrated by their inattention to the other sites of struggle they found important. Anthologies like Toni Cade's The Black Woman and Gloria Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga's This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color also called attention to the need to attend to sexism, heterosexism, ablism, and classism within the struggle for Black liberation. More recently, transnational feminists call attention to the construct of the nation-state and the ways it may be outside of women's experience, even antithetical to the lives of women. For example, see essays by Mary Layoun, Lydia Liu, Nalini Natarajan, and Kamala Visweswaran in Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices (ed. Grewal and Kaplan).

Works Cited

Ahmad, Aijaz. "Jameson's Rhetoric of Otherness and the ‘National Allegory.’" Social Text 17 (1987): 3-25.

Anzaldúa, Gloria, and Cherrie Moraga. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color Watertown, MA: Persephone, 1981.

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge, 1993.

Bilby, Kenneth, and Filomina Chioma Steady. "Black Women and Survival: A Maroon Case." The Black Woman Cross-Culturally. Ed. Filoma Chioma Steady. Rochester, VT: Schenkman, 1981. 451-67.

Cade, Toni. The Black Woman. New York: NAL, 1970.

Carmichael, Stokely, and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. New York: Random, 1967.

Cliff, Michelle. Abeng. 1984. New York: Penguin, 1995.

———. No Telephone to Heaven. 1987. New York: Vintage, 1989.

Combahee River Collective. "The Combahee River Collective Statement." Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism. Ed. Zillah Eisenstein. New York: Monthly Review P, 1978. 362-72. Rpt. Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. Ed. Barbara Smith. New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color P, 1983. 272-82.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. 1952. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove, 1967.

———. The Wretched of the Earth. 1963. Trans. Constance Farrington. New York: Grove, 1968.

Grewal, Inderpal, and Caren Kaplan, eds. Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1994.

Hirschmann, David. "The Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa." The Journal of Modern African Studies 28.1 (1990): 1-22.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1978.

Jameson, Fredric. "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism." Social Text 15 (1986): 65-88.

Marshall, Paule. Praisesong for the Widow. New York: Penguin, 1983.

MacDonald-Smythe, Antonia. Making Homes in the West/Indies: Constructions of Subjectivity in the Writings of Michelle Cliff and Jamaica Kincaid. New York: Garland, 2001.

McClintock, Anne. "The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ‘Post-Colonialism.’" Social Text 31/32 (1992): 84-98.

Moses, Wilson Jeremiah. Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.

Neal, Larry. "The Black Arts Movement." The Drama Review 12.4 (1968). Rpt. In The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Nellie Y. McKey. New York: Norton, 1997. 1960-72.

Rodgers, Lawrence R. Canaan Bound: The African-American Great Migration Novel. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1997.

Shoat, Ella. "Notes on the ‘Post-Colonial.’" Social Text 31/32 (1992): 99-113.

Wicomb, Zoë. "Shame and Identity: The Case of the Coloured in South Africa." Writing South Africa: Literature, Apartheid, and Democracy, 1970-1995. Ed. Derek Attridge and Rosemary Jolly. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 91-107.

———. You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town. 1987. New York: Feminist P, 2000.



Sicherman, Carol. "Zoë Wicomb's You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town: The Narrator's Identity." In Black/White Writing: Essays on South African Literature, edited by Pauline Fletcher, pp. 111-22. Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 1993.

Analyzes how Frieda Shenton's identity is shaped by her gender, race, ethnicity, and professional status as a writer.

Additional coverage of Wicomb's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Gale: Contemporary Authors, Vol. 127; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 106; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 22; and Literature Resource Center.