Twenty years ago I was a postgraduate student in London, experiencing the angst of the temporary émigré. The big questions of young adulthood swirled through my head — Who am I? Why am I here? What does my future hold? — complicated by an awareness that I was a self-satirising caricature: a homesick white South African discovering that merry old England is not what his cultural conditioning led him to expect.

Occasionally I would visit the library in Senate House, a building redolent of excessive Art Deco architectural ambition and the inspiration for the notorious ministry of truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. ..

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