Mark Gevisser

Published: 6 February 2014
Hardback, Royal PB
153x234mm, 368 pages
ISBN: 9781847088581


As a boy growing up in 1970s Johannesburg Mark Gevisser would play 'Dispatcher', a game that involved sitting in his father's parked car (or in the study) and sending imaginary couriers on routes across the city, mapped out from Holmden's Register of Johannesburg. As the imaginary fleet made its way across the troubled city and its tightly bound geographies, so too did the young dispatcher begin to figure out his own place in the world.

At the centre of Dispatcher is the account of a young boy who is obsessed with maps and books, and other boys. Mark Gevisser's account of growing up as the gay son of Jewish immigrants, in a society deeply affected - on a daily basis - by apartheid and its legacy, provides a uniquely layered understanding of place and history. It explores a young man's maturation into a fully engaged and self-aware citizen, first of his city, then of his country and the world beyond. This is a story of memory, identity and an intensely personal relationship with the City of Gold. It is also the story of a violent home invasion and its aftermath, and of a man's determination to reclaim his home town.

About the author

Image of Mark Gevisser

Mark Gevisser is the author of A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream, published by Palgrave Macmillan in the UK, and by Jonathan Ball in South Africa under the title, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred. It was the winner of the Sunday Times 2008 Alan Paton Prize and was lauded by the Times Literary Supplement as 'probably the finest piece of non-fiction to come out of South Africa since the end of apartheid'. Mark is also a heritage curator and a political analyst. His journalism has appeared in publications and journals including Granta, the New York Times, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, Public Culture, Foreign Affairs and Art in America. He currently writes most regularly for the Guardian in the UK and the Mail & Guardian and the Sunday Times in South Africa. He currently lives between Paris and Johannesburg with his husband. More about the author


23/08/2014, 8.30pm - 9.30pm

Mark Gevisser at Edinburgh International Book Festival

"Children of the Revolutions": Mark Gevisser in conversation with Maxim Leo Both Mark Gevisser and Maxim Leo grew up in countries now barely recognisable from the ones they experienced during childhood. In Dispatcher, Gevisser delivers an impassioned meditation on South Africa, home and identity, based on his 1970s upbringing in Johannesburg. Meanwhile Leo has written Red Love, a fascinating memoir looking back at his childhood in East Berlin, revealing a GDR full of hopes, dreams and betrayals.
Edinburgh International Book Festival, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DR

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