On Telling a Lie to Reveal the Truth: Mongrel

James Clinton Oleson


South African author William Dicey’s 2016 collection of essays, Mongrel, operates as a literary prism, refracting and clarifying literary and sociological elements of life. The book’s six essays grapple with a sprawling range of subjects, including: the elusive distinction between fiction and non-fiction, literary footnotes, the endeavor of writing, the search for truth, the citizen’s search for community, the relevance of ethnicity in post-apartheid society, the perpetuation of socioeconomic disadvantage, the tragedy of criminal justice, and collective moral culpability for climate change. History, economics, and practical ethics underscore the entire collection, and exogenous sources such as Nabokov’s Pale Fire and Coetzee’s Disgrace can lend depth to the works. The essays of Mongrel can be understood as six discrete works, but they can also be understood as a meta-narrative that takes as its object the sociological search for restored community and the literary quest for authenticity.    


Apartheid, Climate Change, Community, Dicey, Ethnicity, South Africa.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/journal.v6i7.1200


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