Tuesday, 22 January 2002

Granta 69

Listening to:

Bach, flute sonata in B minor, BWV 1030.

Just read:

Granta 69: the assassin (contents page).

The assassin of the title is Demeitrios Tsafendas, who killed the South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd in 1966. The piece is by Henk van Woerden, and is a miniature biography of Tsafendas. Tsafendas was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and manic-depressive as well, and it’s pretty clear that his crime wasn’t motivated by any particularly deep political consciousness. He died in a South African mental hospital. His life involved an eye-opening amount of travelling: he was born in Mozambique, spent early childhood in Egypt, was a seaman on American transport ships during WW2, and also spent time in Portugal, Germany, Greece and the Middle East. He also lived in South Africa, of course. The main motivation for all this roaming seemed to be a desire to find a country that would accept him and which he could also be at home in.

There are other good things in this issue too. I particularly liked the short story by Hanif Kureishi, and the article by Diana Athill about being editor to V. S. Naipaul. The photo essay has Romanian AIDS orphans as its subject.

I was away last week at the POPL computer science conference. I definitely liked what I saw of Portland. The famous Powells book-store was very impressive.