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Christopher Hope Biography

(1941– ), A Separate Development, Kruger's Alp, The Hottentot Room, Black Swan, My Chocolate Redeemer

South African novelist and poet, born in Johannesburg, educated at the universities of Witwatersrand and Natal; he moved to London in 1976. Hope's first novel, A Separate Development (1981), which was banned in South Africa, fiercely ridiculed apartheid and satirized fears of miscegenation. It is narrated by the adolescent Harry Moto who, due to a sexual misdemeanour, is forced to disguise himself as a black person. Kruger's Alp (1984; Whitbread Prize) is an allegorical novel which targets the legacy of Paul Kruger, leader of the Afrikaners during the Anglo-Boer War (18991902). The Hottentot Room (1986), about political exiles in London, comically scrutinizes fashionable assumptions about race and power politics. His novella Black Swan (1987) is a bleak, hard-hitting parable which portrays a black township boy called ‘Lucky’ who becomes obsessed with classical ballet. My Chocolate Redeemer (1989), set in France, is narrated by Bella, an intellectually precocious nymphet. Much comic irony and satirical scorn are generated by her relationships with an exiled African dictator, and her atheistic uncle, who dabbles in racialist politics. The Love Songs of Nathan J. Swirsky (1993) is a comic novel set in South Africa. In Serenity House (1992) Hope moves the scene to London, to recount the blackly satirical mystery of the identity of Max Montfalcon, a denizen of an old people's home who may or may not be an erstwhile Nazi exterminator. Darkest England (1996), a Swiftean satire on England, follows David Mungo Booi from Africa to contemporary Britain. Hope's other works include the poems in Cape Drives (1974), In the Country of the Black Pig (1981), and Englishmen (1985); Private Parts and Other Tales (1981); White Boy Running (1988), a memoir; and Moscow! Moscow! (1990), a travel book about Gorbachev's Russia.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Honest Ulsterman to Douglas Hyde Biography