Old News in the New Era: Temporal Misalignments and Wounded History in Rehana Rossouw’s New Times
Drawing on the work of Elizabeth Freeman (2010), this study offers a contribution to the South African literary debate over historical progress and irregular temporalities by proposing an analysis of time and embodiment in Rehana Rossouw’s second novel New Times (2017). The book, all centred around the themes of betrayal versus remembrance, tells the story of Ali, a young journalist trying to heal secret wounds in the year after South Africa’s first democratic elections. While her identity is continuously questioned because of her male nickname, mixed slave heritage and uncertain sexuality, Ali starts her new job for the aptly-titled The New Times by uncovering the new government’s first signs of corruption and blindness towards the AIDS plague. By investigating what is left of the colonial in the supposedly postcolonial era, Rossouw’s novel offers a fresh addition to the strand of South African literature that dares to deconstruct the myth of Mandela and of Liberation Day, calling for a deeper understanding of the often fractured temporalities of political change.
Keywords: Post-apartheid literature • Recursive temporalities • Embodiment • Rehana Rossouw • Elizabeth Freeman • Melancholia