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Modjaji Books

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Book Launch: Hemispheres: Inside a stroke by Karen Lazar

You are warmly invited to the launch of Karen Lazar’s book, Hemispheres: Inside a stroke. Orenna Krut, managing director of Pearson SA Schools and long-time friend of Karen’s, will introduce Karen and Hemispheres. Karen will then read a couple of short extracts and you will be able to ask questions and discuss the book with her afterwards.

More about Hemispheres:
“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.

More about the author:
Karen Lazar is an English educator at the Wits School of Education. Her MA and Phd, both from Wits, are in English/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.

Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, Wits University says this about Hemispheres:

“ ‘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.”

Joanne Fedler tells us:

“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.”

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 05 May 2011
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, Corner Roeland and Buitenkant streets, Cape Town
  • Guest Speaker: Orenna Krut
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine and light snacks
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

Hemispheres: Inside a stroke
Book Details


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    May 4th, 2011 @09:47 #

    Karen Lazar will be in Cape Town, at the Book Lounge to launch Hemispheres, Thursday night, 5th May. Hope to see you there.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kelwyn Sole</a>
    Kelwyn Sole
    May 4th, 2011 @11:17 #

    Thanks, Colleen. I'm really looking forward to this - this is a pathbreaking area of exploration.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 4th, 2011 @17:31 #

    Modjaji certainly goes boldly where others dare not go. Hmm, not boldly exactly, more like with purpose and courage.


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