Ceridwen Dovey is a South African born novelist who now lives in New York. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 2003, Dovey returned to South Africa to write a novel. Blood Kin, the result of that work, was published in 2007 to critical acclaim: the novel was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Informed by Dovey's South African roots, the novel tells the story of a fictional military coup from the perspective of the overthrown leader's portraitist, chef, and barber. Dovey is currently completing a PhD in Anthropology at New York University. Dovey doesn't see a conflict between her two passions. "Both anthropology and good fiction are full of thick description and a layering of detail," she says.
Question: Which identity do you identify with
Dovey: I usually say I’m South African. I’ve retained the accent, and I think that must have some sort of deep psychological reason. And you know I think more and more for people this is, you know, the reality of life in a globalized world. It’s less and less the exception. And you know you could complain about it endlessly and say you have no home and . . . but it’s also this incredible privilege to move between countries. And so I try and remind myself of that anytime, you know, I’m about to fall into the trap of self-pity. You know having family members . . . My parents are now in Australia. My sister’s in London. I’m in New York. And it is a dilemma of how does a family ever then find its way back to one another after so long of being apart. But at the moment it still feels more like . . . like a gift.
Recorded on: 12/6/07