'Living at the lip of The Wilds was a disconnecting experience': Mark Gevisser is Lost and Found in Johannesburg

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Andrew Tshabangu, Rearview Mirror, 2004, From the series, City in Translation, Vintage Print, 40 x 60 cm.
Andrew Tshabangu, Rearview Mirror, 2004, From the series, City in Translation, Vintage Print, 40 x 60 cm.

On the night of 11 January 2012, I went to visit my friends Katie and Bea in their flat at Wildsview, high up on Killarney Ridge. Our plan was to continue watching the Australian TV mini-series, The Slap, based on Christos Tsolkas’s celebrated novel of the same name. I was living in France at the time, but was back in Johannesburg for a couple of months to finish working on this book. I parked the old BMW convertible I had borrowed from my mother, said hello to Jonah, the doorman-cum-security guard, and bounded through the grand lavender-painted lobby into the lift and up to the fourth floor. I know the place well: my partner C and I had lived in this generous and somewhat shabby flat ourselves, with its scuffed parquet floors and high ceilings and little touches of stucco, before we passed the lease on to Katie and Bea. Wildsview was built in the mid-twentieth century for the comfortable elderly Jews who came to be associated with Killarney and who are still to be seen, perhaps less comfortable, amid the gay people, students, and large multigenerational Muslim families who now call the suburb home. 

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