"Such is the Ambiguity of Coming Home": Writing and Memory in Lost and Found in Johannesburg
This paper analyses the self-conscious narrative strategies in Mark Gevisser's Lost and Found in Johannesburg (2014), strategies which draw attention to the act of writing as a way of both voicing and speaking back to his own memory. Lost and Found connects the concept of 'coming home' to the act of writing and the reconfiguration of the narrative self. It is about overlapping types of homecoming: the desire to feel at home in South Africa, the wish to find narrative forms that accommodate the telling of this desire, and the literary interpolation of selfhood that reflects these impulses. Gevisser's nostalgia allows him to both inhabit and critique the affection he feels for his childhood. The sense of 'homecoming' depicted in the text is a return to the present and the active reconfiguration of memory. My analysis draws out three aspects which illustrate the relationship between memory, writing, and narrative homecoming in Lost and Found: the cartography of childhood; the literary afterlife Ivan Vladislavi?'s Portrait with Keys (2007) finds in the text; and finally, the way that Teju Cole's Open City (2012) deepens the text's questioning of memory and nostalgia by complicating the relationship between the narrative and narrator. In Lost and Found, then, representing memory and homecoming in post-apartheid South Africa becomes a question of the boundaries of writing itself.