Skip to main content

Distributed for Seagull Books

Conditional Tense

Memory and Vocabulary after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Distributed for Seagull Books

Conditional Tense

Memory and Vocabulary after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission

When apartheid ended in 1994, a radiant optimism suggested a bright future for the new, unified South Africa. But today, even in the midst of a vibrant economy, the cumulative effect of the country’s corrosive past—three hundred years of colonialism, the Anglo-Boer War, the displacement, dispossession, and disenfranchisement of millions of people, and the ravages of racism and capitalist exploitation—continues to eat away at what Desmond Tutu admiringly called “the Rainbow Nation.”

Using the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as starting point, acclaimed writer Antjie Krog’s essays explore texts from every corner of South Africa in an attempt to remap the borders of her country’s communities. In these pages, texts from black women, Afrikaner men, and comic strips are discussed alongside ideas from African philosophers, an archbishop, and a Nobel Prize winner. Through this extraordinary marriage of academic observation and poetic intervention, Krog endeavors to move South Africa beyond the present moment and toward a vocabulary of grace and care.

344 pages | 18 color plates | 5 x 8 1/2 | © 2013

The Africa List

African Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Seagull Books image

View all books from Seagull Books


“Her accounts are so powerful, her resilience, humor and compassion so engaging. . . to have written this book is heroic.”

Sunday Times | on Antije Krog’s Begging to be Black

“[Conditional Tense] make[s] clear why Krog is such an important interpreter of South Africa, to audiences both at home and abroad…The volume accurately reflects the preoccupations of Krog’s writings and provides an excellent introduction to the uninitiated reader.”

African Affairs

Table of Contents



Unlearning the Past while Trying to Live with Harmed Tongues

1   Ways of Knowing Mrs Konile:

     TRC and the Problem of Translation                                   

2   Revisiting Mrs Konile

     The Problem of Knowing

3   Archived Voices

     Refiguring Three Women’s Testimonies Delivered to the TRC

4   Shards, Memory and the Mileage of Myth

5   Redefinition and the Battlefield of Guilt and Shame

6   ‘This Thing Called Reconciliation’:

     Forgiveness as Part of an Interconnectedness-towards-Wholeness

7   The Letters in the Body:

     Manifestations of Interconnectedness and an Indigenous Humanism

8   A Vocabulary of Grace

9   Suske en Wiske:

     Sequential Comic Panels and the Iconization of Nelson Mandela

10 Reading with the Skin:

     Liberalism, Race and Power in J. M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron and Disgrace

11 Pieces in the Anatomy of Loss

Works Cited


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press