On Telling a Lie to Reveal the Truth: Mongrel





Apartheid, Climate Change, Community, Dicey, Ethnicity, South Africa.


South African author William Dicey’s 2016 collection of essays, Mongrel, operates as a literary prism, refracting and clarifying literary and sociological elements of life. The book’s six essays grapple with a sprawling range of subjects, including: the elusive distinction between fiction and non-fiction, literary footnotes, the endeavor of writing, the search for truth, the citizen’s search for community, the relevance of ethnicity in post-apartheid society, the perpetuation of socioeconomic disadvantage, the tragedy of criminal justice, and collective moral culpability for climate change. History, economics, and practical ethics underscore the entire collection, and exogenous sources such as Nabokov’s Pale Fire and Coetzee’s Disgrace can lend depth to the works. The essays of Mongrel can be understood as six discrete works, but they can also be understood as a meta-narrative that takes as its object the sociological search for restored community and the literary quest for authenticity.    

Author Biography

  • James Clinton Oleson, University of Auckland
    James C. Oleson is an associate professor of criminology in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Auckland. He earned his BA from St. Mary's College of California, his MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, and his JD from the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall).


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