Inventory of Possible Narrations

Inventory of Possible Narrations revolves around the life of South African writer and poet Ingrid Jonker, who committed suicide in 1965 at age 32 and who has grown to become an icon in her native country after the fall of the Apartheid regime.  Jonker became a public figure of mythical proportions, a symbol in the identity defining process of South Africa. 

In the fifties Jonker became politically involved when she and a group of befriended writers vehemently opposed a law imposing censorship on art, publications and entertainment. Her father, writer, editor and Member of Parliament for the National Party, who’s policies included apartheid and the promotion of Afrikaner culture, was appointed chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for these laws. After some media-covered incidents between Ingrid and her father, she had difficulties publishing her work in the prevailing climate  of that time. In 1963, however, she managed to publish Smoke and Ochre, her second volume of poetry, and won South Africa’s most prestigious literature prize. After her suicide, she fell into oblivion. Since the end of Apartheid Jonker’s identity has largely been adopted and given meaning by interested parties. Biographers, actresses, writers, filmmakers, admirers and politicians write and rewrite Jonker’s story, turning it into something ghostlike that keeps on haunting the present.

This anthology of short stories starts at that point. It focuses on Jonkers politicized and ubiquitous character, and uses it as a vehicle for investigating history, biography and mythology. Four South African authors: Ingrid Winterbach, Michiel Heyns, Mark Behr, Ilse Carla Groenewald and Basha Faber from the Netherlands, were commissioned to write a short fiction that starts from the projected figure of the poet. Next to her biography the writers were each given a series of images of interiors of places were Jonker used to live, write or where she and her colleagues used to meet during the fifties and sixties.

Texts edited by Paul Hendrikse and Benda Hofmeyr, photography Melanie Hofmann, David Southwood, Paul Hendrikse, graphic design Sarah Infanger, published by Onomatopee in an edition of 500 copies in Hardcover. The publication was generously supported by: Mondriaan fonds, Stichting Stokroos, Bijlevelt Stichting, the Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa and the Province of Antwerp, Belgium

Available for 22,50 EUR at the bookshops of Onomatopee, Eindhoven, Motto, Berlin, Wiels, Brussels or online at (NL), (DE/CH) or (UK). You can also order your copy by sending me an email.