From the introductory question - how to talk about art in a politically demanding milieu - to meditations on writers ranging from J.M. Coetzee to Nelson Mandela, Salman Rushdie to Nadine Gordimer, Michael Chapman offers a continually surprising, consistently intellectual, and boldly original consideration of literary-cultural tradition and innovation that in many ways is a model for the world. The essays - self-contained yet cumulative in their argument and insight - locate ethical and aesthetic challenges in the postcolonial condition of our times, both in South Africa (post-apartheid) and globally (post-Berlin Wall). What is Africa, what is the West? May the South and the North engage in new and challenging conversation? Teasing out the intricate value of literary culture in contemporary society, Chapman in lucid prose brings to this volume a new confidence and critical vocabulary that both energises older controversies and marks out fresh ground for debate.