A new book excerpting the varied writings of the author sheds light on her writing, becoming part of an ongoing and necessary critical reappraisal of her literary legacy.
This story was first published on New Frame.
Edited by esteemed feminist literary critic Pumla Dineo Gqola, Miriam Tlali: Writing Freedom presents a kaleidoscopic view of Miriam Tlali's life and writing.
The book's most significant contribution may be that it renders into print, for the first time, a previously unpublished play by the pioneering writer. The text of the play, Crimen Injuria, landed fortuitously with Gqola after a chance encounter at the State Theatre in Pretoria, where a stranger offered it to her, having found it at the theatre.
Understanding Writing Freedom's significance hinges on understanding the significance of Tlali in South African literature. Born in 1933 in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, Tlali was one of the country's most prolific and important yet under-recognised writers, carving out a career as a novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and playwright despite oppressive apartheid laws.
Known for being the first Black South African woman to publish a novel in English inside the country, Muriel at Metropolitan in 1975, Tlali was also the first writer within its...