Tlali died last year in Johannesburg. She would have turned 85 on Sunday.
Her work touched the nerve of the apartheid regime and was frequently banned. Tlali was one of the first people to write about the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising, in her second novel, Amandla. Her first novel, Muriel the Metropolitan, was published in 1975. An online search shows that the novel was written in 1969 and was not published for at least six years due to many publishing houses in South Africa rejecting it.
In 1975, Ravan Press published it only after removing certain extracts they thought would offend South Africa’s literary watchdog the Censorship Board. However, Muriel the Metropolitan was banned almost immediately after it was published, as the board considered it undesirable in the South African political environment at the time.
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Amandla is her other acclaimed work, described by University of Cape Town English Professor Barbara Boswell as one of South Africa’s most detailed accounts of the 1976 Soweto uprising from the perspective of a number of young revolutionaries of the time.
”Based on events Tlali witnessed as a resident of Soweto during 1976, the novel offers a detailed portrayal of black consciousness ideology in the service of anti-apartheid activism, while explicating gender relations between men and women activists and members of the larger community,” Boswell wrote.
Tlali also published a collection of short stories, Mihloti. In 2009, a book club named the Miriam Tlali Reading & Book Club was formed in her honour. The book club has hosted literary giants such as the late national poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, Nadine Gordimer, Gomolemo Mokae and Pitika Ntuli.
– African News Agency