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The Splintering Rainbow is a wry and insightful journey through the state of South Africa, asking if Nelson Mandela's longed-for Rainbow Nation is sinking into a typical African dysfunctionality.

Foreign journalists have already delivered their verdict, but in encounters with politicians, business leaders, lawyers, comedians and the ordinary man in the street, Rian Malan - one of the country's foremost literary talents - discovers that modern South Africa's best weapon is its ability to laugh at itself.

The South African political scene may have degenerated into a disorderly free-for-all, the country's infrastructure might be collapsing - but all citizens of the Rainbow Nation are free to comment on and criticise all of this - and that freedom of speech represents the best chance of finding the right solution to the country's current problems.

The Splintering Rainbow is a riveting glimpse into the state of the nation, laying bare the heart of a very African political and social machine.

Source: Al Jazeera