Zoë Wicomb

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Zoë Wicomb (born 23 November 1948 in Namaqualand) is a South African author.

Early life[edit]

Zoë Wicomb attended the University of the Western Cape, and after graduating left South Africa for England in 1970, where she continued her studies at Reading University. She lived in Nottingham and Glasgow and returned to South Africa in 1990, where she taught for three years in the department of English at the University of the Western Cape.[citation needed]


Wicomb gained attention in South Africa and internationally with her first work, a collection of short stories, You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town (1987), which takes place during the apartheid era. This work has been compared to V. S. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival.[1] Her second novel, David's Story (2000), takes place in 1991 toward the close of the apartheid era and explores racial identity. It has been studied as a key work dealing with the transitory period in South Africa along with Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee and Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor.[2]

Playing in the Light, her third novel, released in 2006, covers similar terrain conceptually. It is set in mid-1990s Cape Town and centers on the theme of racial passing. Her second collection of short stories, The One That Got Away, is set mainly in Cape Town and Glasgow and explores a range of human relationships: marriage, friendships, family ties and relations with servants.

Personal life[edit]

Zoë Wicomb resides in Glasgow, where she teaches creative writing and post-colonial literature at the University of Strathclyde.[citation needed]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 2013 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize.[3] Wicomb's citation is on the website of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. It states: "Zoë Wicomb’s subtle, lively language and beautifully crafted narratives explore the complex entanglements of home, and the continuing challenges of being in the world."



  1. ^ Donnelly, K. (2014). "Metafictions of development: The Enigma of Arrival, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, and the place of the world in world literature", Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 49(1), 63-80.
  2. ^ Gready, Paul. 2008. "Culture, Testimony, and the Toolbox of Transitional Justice", Peace Review 20, no. 1: 41-48.
  3. ^ Dorie Baker (4 March 2013). "Yale awards $1.35 million to nine writers". YaleNews. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 

External links[edit]