Imraan Coovadia: The Essay and/as Transformation

2016. Current Writing 28(1): 73-87. DOI: 10.1080/1013929X.2016.1170506

This article is concerned with the novelist-as-essayist in Imraan Coovadia’s collection of essays Transformations (2012). Taking as its starting-point a particular context for reading the essays – the #FeesMustFall student protests of late 2015 – the article considers the ways in which Coovadia both reflects on and experiments with the essayistic voice and form in addressing a range of topics and themes: South African cultural politics and literary history, nineteenth and twentieth-century European and American literature, Indian Muslim diasporic experience and more. Transformation thus emerges as simultaneously a necessary social imperative and a mode of reading, writing or thinking that is cautious about (and seeks to reconfigure) such imperatives.