Ivan Vladislavić was born in 1957 in Pretoria, South Africa. Since the early 1970s he has lived in Johannesburg, where he studied Afrikaans and English language and literature at the University of the Witwatersrand. Vladislavić worked as an editor at the oppositional publisher Ravan Press, and for several years was assistant editor of the influential literary and cultural magazine »Staffrider«.
Vladislavić has been a freelance writer and editor since 1989. He is considered an excellent stylist and original voice in South African literature. Themes from art and architecture are central to his work. He uses them to subtly describe social developments, particularly in the post-Apartheid era in his post-modern stories and novels as well as in his work as essayist and editor of monographs and anthologies. Vladislavić’s first novel, »The Folly« (1993), tells of a mysterious building project. While a neighboring family follows the bizarre events unfolding on previously fallow land, their well-ordered life begins to come apart at the seams. The city of Johannesburg is the main character in three subsequent works by the author. »The Restless Supermarket« (2001) tells of changes in the white suburb of Hillbrow, as more and more black inhabitants move to the neighborhood. The four stories in »The Exploded View« (2004) tracks the relationships between individual characters and where they live. »Portrait with Keys« (2006) interweaves autobiography and fiction in 138 episodes. In the title piece, the narrator explains the functions of the numerous keys on his key ring to an astonished Swedish journalist, casting light on security in the city. The jury for the Alan Paton Award for Nonfiction declared »Portrait with Keys« a masterpiece, and emblematic of a trend in South African nonfiction that looks »inwards in order to explore the outwards«. Vladislavić’s next book was a novel originally published in 2010 under the title »TJ/Double Negative«, with images by the South African photographer, David Goldblatt, and then in 2011 without photos under the title »Double Negative«, and finally in German in 2015 under the latter title. The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« noted that the melancholic, essayistic style of the novel recalled the work of Teju Cole, who wrote the foreword for the second edition. Vladislavić’s most recent publication is »101 Detectives« (2015), a collection of short stories.
Vladislavić’s literary œuvre has received numerous honors, including the Olive Schreiber Prize (1991), the University of Johannesburg Prize (2011) and most recently the renowned Windham-Campbell Literature Prize (2015).