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Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa
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Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
"Boet,"said Kevin, "there’s a jazz somewhere down by the assembly hall where okes can do what they smaak, and I hear from reliable sources that it’s lekker down there." Like most children of the 1970s and 1980s, Richard Poplak grew up obsessed with pop culture. Watching The Cosby Show, listening to Guns N’Roses, and quoting lines from Mad Max movies were part of his everyd ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Penguin Canada (first published 2007)
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Graham Heslop
Feb 29, 2016 Graham Heslop rated it liked it
I can't say why I picked up Ja, No, Man in the 2nd hand book store, but I'm glad that the rear cover did enough to convince me to purchase and read it. Richard Poplak grew up in Johannesburg during the late 79s and throughout the 80s, until his family left for Canada. What made this book a worthwhile read was not a picture of South Africa during Apartheid's autumn years, but the insight into the South African psyche of that period, as Poplak met it in the various colourful characters he encounte ...more
Corey
Jul 08, 2010 Corey rated it liked it
Shelves: south-africa, africa
As far as memoirs go, this one was a light and entertaining read. It painted an interesting picture of life for white South African kids and teenagers during Apartheid. Many of the stories could have taken place anywhere in the world and didn't strike me as particularly South African. If I were to write a book describing my high school shenanigans, friends and teachers, I'm pretty sure no one would want to read it because some experiences are pretty universal and really not all that interesting. ...more
Trinette
Apr 23, 2014 Trinette rated it liked it
Very insightful. Felt a bit like a rant.
Nicolette
Dec 05, 2010 Nicolette rated it really liked it
Ja, No, Man
Richard Poplak (Penguin)

RICHARD Poplak writes about his childhood as a small Jewish boy growing up in apartheid South Africa’s Johannesburg suburbs.
When Poplak was in high school, his family emigrated to Canada. This is a look back at his life, relationships and the rulers of the country he was not allowed to question at school.
Poplak writes the way South Africans speak, and with our variety of slang it makes for enthralling reading. — Nicolette Scrooby

(Published in the Daily Dispatch
...more
Leif
Jun 12, 2013 Leif rated it liked it
Poplak knows how to spin a tale, but stretches the threads a little scanty here in more than a few places. His memoirs walk a difficult line and, to his credit, he is conscious of his own failings as well as the inanities of moral guardians. Perhaps best about the book is its admittedly flawed, human perspective; worst, its occasional grasping for some form of moral universality. Still, it is eminently readable and sympathetically drawn.
Alexis
Oct 11, 2009 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
An extremely interesting look at what it was like to grow up as a white child in apartheid era South Africa. Poplak looks at the effects of institutionalized racism on some of his relationships and his understanding of pop culture, as well as some of the weird social customs that occurred during the period. Lagged a little at the end, but still very interesting.
Lesley Rollins
Jul 12, 2013 Lesley Rollins rated it liked it
Found it a bit pedestrian after the Spud books by John van Riet. While set in a different era, I found the memoirs rambling at times and the characters sad. It reminded me of my past. An era where children had power over other South Africans. I just abandoned it.
Tim
May 15, 2012 Tim rated it it was ok
I never finished this book. After books like Mukiwa, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, and My Traitors Heart, well, most of our stories as white kids growing up under Apartheid will seem dull. Which this was.
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Richard Poplak is the author of the acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-era South Africa and The Sheikh's Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop Culture in the Muslim World. He has written for, among others, The Walrus, THIS Magazine, Toronto Life, and The Globe & Mail and has directed numerous short films, music videos and commercials. He lives in Toronto, Ontario."
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