“In the multiple reflections of his novel Double Negative, the South African essayist and writer Ivan Vladislavić succeeds in combining major themes from the history of civilization (racial segregation in his home country) with moral and aesthetic issues (what is the truth of photography) to create a profound narrative of the period during and after Apartheid. Following the first free elections, the narrator - himself now a photographer – returns from London to observe the transformations. What has really changed? Ivan Vladislavić stages his story without the slightest use of kitsch or sentimentality, which elevates the book into a literary masterpiece, something further accentuated by the excellent translation by Thomas Brückner.”
(The jury on the shortlist nomination 2016)
The young college dropout Neville Lister accompanies the famous photographer Saul Auerbach for a day in Johannesburg in search of life lessons. They play a game: On a hill overlooking the city they select three houses and decide to knock on their doors in search of a picture and a story. However, the light quickly fades and only Auerbach’s pictures from the first two houses, which would later become classic portraits, are completed. Only after an interlude of many years does Lister visit the third house as he returns to post-apartheid South Africa and a completely altered Johannesburg. The novel, arranged like a triptych, depicts 30 years of South African history in precise images and sentences, arranged like a series of photographs that trace the changes in the social structures.
Ivan Vladislavić, born in Pretoria in 1957, studied Afrikaans and English literature at the Witwatersrand University and has lived in Johannesburg since the beginning of the 1970s where he works as a freelance editor and writer. In the 1980s he worked as an editor for the oppositional publishers Ravan Press. The South African with Croatian roots was co-publisher of the Staffrider Magazine and together with Andries Oliphant he published the anthology Ten years of Staffrider. He is the author of novels, essays and short stories, has published works on contemporary art and architecture and written texts for the photography books of David Goldblatt and Roger Palmer.
Recent publications in German translation:
Recent publication in English:
Dr. Thomas Brückner, born in Görlitz in 1957, studied African studies, literature and cultural sciences. He completed his doctorate and habilitated at the University of Leipzig, which was followed by guest professorships in Germany and Sweden. Since 1994, he has worked as an author, publisher, translator, cultural mediator, speaker and moderator, primarily in the field of the literature and culture of the countries of the south. Amongst other things, Brückner has been a longstanding jury member of the LiBeraturpreis initiative.