The end of Cape Town : neoliberal deception in K. Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents
Centuries ago, white settlers arrived at the area that would become modern day Cape Town, making their first contact with Southern Africa. Today, the city emulates its past role by continuing to host foreigners. Cape Town stands as the premier tourist destination in Africa, popular among Western visitors who are drawn to the area’s warm climate, beautiful landscape, and the natural environment. The city’s prevailing mythic image, however, conflicts with late South African writer K. Sello Duiker’s perception. He described how he experienced Cape Town in an interview with Victor Lackay saying, “I immersed myself in the culture of Cape Town, but in the end I had to run. I was too absorbed; I needed to escape. It was just meant to be a stopover” (Mzamane 20). Duiker’s need to “run” and “escape” indicates his sense of urgency amid some danger in Cape Town from which he needs to flee, a subtlety appropriate for the interview. His statement here comes across as light criticism whereas his literary works more vehemently problematize the city. In his first two novels, Thirteen Cents and The Quiet Violence of Dreams, Duiker’s characters experience a Cape Town that would make the city’s tourists reconsider their choice of destination. In particular, Duiker appears ready for the city to come to an apocalyptic end, and the following discussion begins by questioning why Cape Town deserves such a demise.