The Guardian has published Athol Fugard’s notes as he was conceiving of Tsotsi, the novel whose film adaptation just won the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
Joburg to Orlando train. Tsotsis. Bicycle spoke – death.
The idea for a story – criminal: completely shrouded in darkness. At a moment – a stab of light and pain. This followed, developed, in the span of a short time leads to the full Christian experience after a meeting with a priest in an empty church.
The end – a life saved. (A useless life saved? Old man?) Held and refusing to let go. Carried, cherished – dying with it? Love.
His dark shroud expressed in nihilism, anarchy. Hate.
“Nothing is precious. Nothing is worth keeping. Destruction.” And then to find something precious. Shoebox baby.
I felt at once uncomfortable and excited at reading the notes, like a voyeur spying someone undressing through a window. Scattered around my office, I have notes for my own book, and the thought of someone else looking at them, instead of at the work itself, is almost unbearable to me. Maybe this will change in a few years…