Happy Birthday, Jonny Steinberg, born 22 March 1970
- [My favourite place to write is] anywhere that is absolutely silent.
- I think that way in which black people in power express fear is similar to the way in which the whites in power expressed fear. It’s a very interesting symmetry. The white people believed they were superior and had science and culture on their side and yet at a deep subterranean level they also knew that things couldn’t last. There is a similar feeling of precariousness in the ANC, which was swept to power as the country’s liberation movement, has governed for the past 17 years, but knows it can’t go on forever.
- Much of my works explores South African people and institutions in the wake of the transition to democracy. The institutions I have written about are the police, the prison, the farm, the police and the clinic. The common thread between these projects has been an investigation into how political transition has changed the filigrees of unwritten rules through which individuals understand their lives and relate to others.
- I am an insomniac so my days, or nights rather, are already too long. I would gladly have fewer waking hours in exchange for more sleep.
- I was eight or nine. My mother read me I Am David by Anne Holm about a boy who escapes a concentration camp in Eastern Europe and walks to Denmark to find his mother. The book was also about me and my mother. In reading it together we were affirming what each of us privately doubted – that she loved me and that, were I to look for her, I would find her. I did not know it but I had discovered the peculiar power of literature. Another invented world, it reaches into our own, very real, world, in ways few other forms can.
- No rule is golden. I cannot think of a rule that would not need to be re-examined in some conceivable context.
Johnny Steinberg is a South African writer. He is the author of A Man of Good Hope, Three-Letter Plague, Midlands and The Number.
If you’re inspired, educated, or entertained by our posts, please show your love with a donation.