“Home is as old as one’s skin but as elusive as an object seen through the wrong end of a telescope.” It is this sense of a view, (...)
“Home is as old as one’s skin but as elusive as an object seen through the wrong end of a telescope.” It is this sense of a view, skewed, intangible, which echoes throughout Karen Lazar’s Hemispheres. Waking in hospital after a post-operative stroke, she finds one side of her body paralysed and her world knocked out of kilter. Spatial, perceptual and subjective changes force her to view her new life in facets. The fragmented view is made apparent by means of a triptych of clusters which charts Karen’s experience from Metamorphosis, through Rehabilitation and Adaptation. Quietly reflective, deeply lyrical, Hemispheres is concerned with returning separated parts into a whole and coming home to the self.
Praise from Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, Wits University:
“ ‘A stroke on one hemisphere of the brain crosses over to manifest … on the opposite side of the body’.
What does it mean to find oneself suddenly living at this lethal crossing? This exquisite book illuminates how to live with and beyond loss. A superb filigree of acute and finely-crafted pieces, Hemispheres narrates the journey of re-composing life, joy and love from the ‘foreign citadel’ of a body made alien through stroke.
Wry, ironic, comic, joyous, desolate, celebratory, surreal, this mosaic of feeling reconfigures love from loss; each subtle fragment a tessera against time.
As the pieces delve deep into the self, they reach beyond it. The rehabilitation hospital reeks of personal loss even as it becomes a microcosm of contemporary South Africa. Broken bodies deformed by carnage and violence accumulate in the ward. The medical hierarchy enacts deep-seated forms of South African authoritarianism, the losses of the past inflicted and self-inflicted in petty and cruel ways.
The book becomes a quiet odyssey of affirming life in the face of death. The pieces themselves, weightless and profound, light and dark, half and whole, mirror the contradictions of wrenching life from loss.”
Praise from Joanne Fedler:
“A collection of rare/nuanced and tender insights. Lazar takes us into the gyre of re-orientation post-stroke, sharing what is lost and what is claimed when what you’ve always been and known, changes. A book that pulses with quiet courage and celebrates it in others.”
Karen LAZAR is an English educator at the Wits School of Education. Her MA and Phd, both from Wits, are in South African gender studies. This is Karen’s first volume of (first person) creative nonfiction. Karen had a stroke in 2001, from which she has partially recovered. She lives in Johannesburg.
Publication date: May 2011 - 88 pages - format:136 x 210 mm - price: R145 - ISBN: 978-1-920397-24-1