When Stephen Clingman was two, he underwent an operation to remove a birthmark under his right eye. The operation failed, and the birthmark returned, but in somewhat altered form. In this captivating book, Clingman takes the fact of that mark—its appearance, disappearance, and return—as a guiding motif of memory.
Not only was the operation unsuccessful, it affected his vision, and his eyes came to see differently from each other. Birthmark explores the questions raised by living with divided vision in a divided world—the world of South Africa under apartheid, where every view was governed by the markings of birth, the accidents of color, race, and skin. But what were the effects on the mind? Clingman's book engages a number of questions. How, in such circumstances, can we come to a deeper kind of vision? How can we achieve wholeness and acceptance? How can we find our place in the midst of turmoil and change?
In a beguiling narrative set on three continents, this is a story that is personal, painful, comic, and ultimately uplifting: a book not so much of the coming of age but the coming of perspective.