The Examined Life: Disaster Writing

By Joshua Glenn, Globe Staff, the Boston Globe (9/14/2003)

ON TUESDAY NIGHT at 7:30 p.m., a multinational group of writers will gather at Brandeis University's Hassenfeld Center to kick off a three-day conference on ''Literary Responses to Mass Violence.'' The Afrikaner poet and radio reporter Antjie Krog, whose novel ''Country of My Skull'' is based on her experiences covering South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will be there. The event also features the Senegalese folklorist and journalist Boubacar Boris Diop, the Israeli Arab poet Taha Muhammad Ali, and the Canadian-American poet and political writer Peter Dale Scott. They will read from their work and discuss literature's relation to national catastrophes such as apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

Mark Sanders, a South African-born Brandeis professor who helped organize the conference, emphasizes that ''literary responses don't always come after mass violence.'' He said, ''For the most part, the writers we've invited here are those who expressed outrage while atrocities were going on.'' Sanders, whose new book is titled ''Complicities: The Intellectual and Apartheid'' (Duke), described the conference participants as ''heroic figures.''

For more information on this event, call (781) 736-8577.

This story ran on page D2 of the Boston Globe on 9/14/2003.
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