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These seventeen pieces on travel in Africa by leading African authors take readers to places at once homelike and foreign. Against the tropes of travel writing, this book offers the acuity of vision of particular types of travelers. These are travelers whose mother tongue may find the hint of familiarity across otherwise unintelligible languages and for whom a foreign land isn’t necessarily strange; in it they perceive vestiges of the familiar. For them, the act of traveling extends a canvas on which to depict someone else’s reality—a reality never too distant from their own. What makes these writings coalesce is a reflection about the act of being in motion, about reconfiguring place; a consciousness of how geography redirects the focus of one’s gaze and, in turn, how that altered gaze filters inward. Having absorbed the landscape, inhaled the scents, paid heed to accents, and accepted the condition of being out of place, these travelers reconstitute individual consciousness and join a collective sense of existing beyond borders. Place inhabits this renewed sense of self; literature enables its expression. An inviting introduction to travel writing on Africa, The Passport That Does Not Pass Ports is absorbing reading for travelers and students of literature alike.
About the Author
ISABEL BALSEIRO is Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvey Mudd College in California. Her books include Running towards Us: New Writing from South Africa (2000), To Change Reels: Film and Film Culture in South Africa (2003), and South Africa: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (2009). A visiting research associate at the University of Cambridge, the Federal University of Pernambuco, and the University of Cape Town, she is the recipient of fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the James Irvine Foundation, among others.
ZACHARIAH RAPOLA is a writer and filmmaker who currently mentors emerging young writers in rural parts of South Africa. His collection of stories Beginnings of a Dream won the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa in 2008. His short fiction and poems have appeared in Tribute, Boston Review, Serendipity, Opbrud, Witness,and Discovering Home. His works for young adults include Stanza on the Edge, Stanza and the Jive Mission,and Stanza’s Soccer World Cup. His television drama Hola! Mpinji isbased on characters from the Stanza novel series.
“Africa is not a country, but it must be again—from Cape Town to Cairo, from Dakar to Djibouti—one open land of promise, of peace, and of creativity. Isabel Balseiro and Zachariah Rapola’s anthology is an invitation to that land, by a plural choir of interwoven African voices, among the most powerful. No passport needed.”
—SOULEYMANE BACHIR DIAGNE, Professor, French and Philosophy, and Director, Institute of African Studies, Columbia University