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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Dan Jacobson

A Dance in the Sun by Dan Jacobson. Ace Books H201, 1958. Cover by John Vernon
"A beautiful performance, a model of how to treat a vastly complicated subject without over-simplifying, and yet without ever becoming confused. As a novel of suspese, it could be enjoyed in the simplest way, but I doubt if anyone will be able to keep his reaction down to this level; the real subject of the books, race relationships in South Africa, is so insistently present that it will touch and move the stupidest and most callous reader. In fact, this novel is a success from every point of view."—John Wain, Observer.

"Pure gold; a work which from its first page is stamped with the unmistakable originality of the true writer"—Peter Green, Daily Telegraph.

"I recommend it as the most intelligent, the least sentimental, sensational or pretentious South African novel that I have come across."—Hilary Corke, Encounter.
Dan Jacobson, c.1958

Dan Jacobson was a South African writer (born in Johannesburg on 7 March 1929) whose first two novels, The Trap and A Dance in the Sun, marked him out as a leading writer about the tensions between South Africa's white and black populations. Prejudice and racism were central to Jacobson's early novels, something Jacobson had experienced himself as a boy when he was ostracised by his classmates because he was Jewish.

After three further novels about life in South Africa, Jacobson moved away from naturalistic and into more imaginative territory; The Rape of Tamar concerned an incident in the Biblical court of King David; The Confessions of Joseph Baisz is a fantasy; and The God-Fearer is set in an alternate reality where Jews persecute the oppressed Christers.

Jacobson won the John Llewelyn Rhys Award for fiction in 1959 for his short story collection A Long Way from London and, in 1964, the W. Somerset Maugham Award for his collection of essays, Time of Arrival. For most of his career he has combined writing with teaching and lecturing in creative writing at universities in America, Australia and England.

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