In the Shadow of the Springs I Saw

In the Shadow of the Springs I Saw is an exploration of people and the stories of their lives in the Art Deco buildings of Springs.


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August 2022







In the Shadow of the Springs I Saw

In the Shadow of the Springs I Saw is an exploration of people and the stories of their lives in the Art Deco buildings of Springs. The novel imagines the lives of those who live in a space that is not theirs historically that they made their own. This work, in times of doom and complaint, creates a new narrative: one of revival, vigour, and celebration.


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Barbara Adair

Barbara Adair is a novelist and writer. In Tangier we Killed the Blue Parrot was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award in 2004. Her novel End was shortlisted for Africa Regional Commonwealth Prize. She contributed to Queer Africa and Queer Africa 2, and her writing, particularly her travel writing, has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. She is currently working with the Wits Writing Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2022 she received a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Pretoria.

Barbara Adair's author page

“The writing tries to capture the ‘grain’ of a place, object or conversation, as if a swatch were cut from a larger fabric. One could trace the use of similar techniques back to the canonical modernist works of James Joyce, William Faulkner, John Dos Passos, William Carlos Williams or to a later experimenter like Burroughs … Adair uses these techniques with flair and purpose … the book’s method is to declare and contradict, to present one side and then another, keeping both present.”       Ivan Vladislavic

“The dying mining town of Springs, one might be compelled to say if you do not take heed and scrutinise more closely the upheaval that is taking shape there. The traditional conservative Springs community has lapsed and a new and integrated communal existence is evolving comprising of people from all over the African continent. Now, the architecture remains the only nostalgic connection to the past. Such bold Art Deco buildings that were ahead of their time still retain their regalness, although they are in a vulnerable condition.

This book is a magnificent showcase of what was, and what is becoming, of the historical journey that Springs is taking. The images captured in the book do not attempt to trace historical events per se but give one an overall sense of the stark arty architecture that continues to thrive amidst what seems to be chaos or the un-led communal revolution of the town itself.”      Colbert Mashile, Artist

“[this is] an ambitious text that comes together as a collage of different modalities of storytelling, from first and second person narration, to correspondence in the form of e mails, to poetry and songs excerpts and architectural definitions… the novel’s collage structure and its focus on themes of disintegration, transient beauty and changing landscape…. It ranges from nostalgic to matter of fact to playful and imaginative.”      Carolyn Ownbey, PhD, Assistant Professor and Chair, English, Communications, & Literature, Golden Gate University

“Adair reflects on issues with originality and aplomb, in an unusual literary style that emphasises fragmentation, intertextuality, historical palimpsest, multiple perspectives, stark shifts of subjectivity, elaborate repetitions, form and silence… as well as elaborate patterns and structures of the shifting and eroded Art Deco buildings. Within these buildings, ghostlike characters’ narrations, never connecting, haunt the work and briefly inhabit and shift the architecture of the text itself.”      Professor Bridget Grogan, University of Pretoria