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Read the Winning Story in the Books LIVE Flash Fiction Competition: “Am I in the Right Place?” by Jen Thorpe:

Fiction Friday: An Excerpt from the First Issue of New KZN Poetry Magazine uHlanga

Cover of uHlanga, a new KZN poetry magazineuHlanga, a new project of literary magazine Prufrock aiming to publish work in English and isiZulu, was launched at the 18th Poetry Africa festival in Durban recently.

The first issue is titled “Stella Natalis”, and features writing from debutant poets Previn Pillay and Bob Perfect, as well as more established voices like Chris Mann, Genna Gardini, Joe Spirit and Rosa Lyster.

“uHlanga hopes to address a lack of representation for the artists, cultures and languages of KwaZulu-Natal in South African literature,” uHlanga’s editor and publisher Nick Mulgrew said at the launch. “I hope it will also become a new place for writers to find their voice and to get their names in print.

“The response to our call for submissions was incredible. We had people sending in work from just about every small town in KZN, as well as from places as far afield as the Caribbean, Kenya and New Zealand.”

Over 250 writers submitted work for the first issue, and Mulgrew says he hopes to attract even more, especially those who work in isiZulu, for the next. uHlanga aims to be an annual publication.

“The scope, quality and variety of the submissions shows how healthy writing as an art is at the grassroots,” he said. “It also shows us how important it is that there are more platforms for writers to write for.”

Copies retail at R50 each online, as well as at stockists in KZN, including Adams Booksellers and the Factory Café. Stockists in the Western Cape and Gauteng will be named soon.

Orders can be placed at, or through

Read an excerpt from the first issue, including writing by Johannes Mzwandile Spirit, Genna Gardini, Musawenkosi Khanyile and Thabo Jijana, who recently won the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.

Read an Excerpt from uHlanga, a new KZN poetry magazine

Karina M Szczurek Reviews Tales of the Metric System by Imraan Coovadia

Tales of the Metric SystemVerdict: carrot

Having read all of Coovadia’s novels now, I can say with certainty that, for me, Tales of the Metric System is by far his most accomplished. It is definitely one of the most profound fictional takes on South Africa’s transition from the horrors of the apartheid era to the uncertainties of the present. Spanning four decades between 1970 and 2010, the novel captures the spirit of all crucial historical moments of the period by focusing on the lives of a few people, real and imagined, whose stories are intricately interlinked.

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Riëtte Grobler resenseer Ewebeeld deur Chanette Paul

EwebeeldUitspraak: wortel

Ewebeeld is Paul se tiende spanningsroman en haar naam behoort meer gereeld gehoor te word as daar oor Afrikaans se bestes in dié genre gepraat word.


Herman Wasserman resenseer Die oorlog kom huis toe deur Albert Grundlingh en Bill Nasson

Die oorlog kom huis toe: Vroue en gesinne in die Anglo-BoereoorlogUitspraak: wortel

Die boek is intellektueel uitdagend en emosioneel ontroerend. Dit is ’n komplekse vertelling van ’n tydperk in ons geskiedenis wat plaaslike en buitelandse lesers uitdaag om ons verlede te verstaan in meer geskakeerde maniere as slegs Boer teen Brit of wit teen swart.

Die oorlog kom huis toe is ’n waardige wenner van die eerste niefiksie-toekenning van die 2014 kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse.


Kom gesels saam: Word vroue deur liefdesverhale bemagtig?

Die woorde “romanse” en “feminisme” word nie dikwels in dieselfde sin gebruik nie. Cliffordene Norton het onlangs ’n gesprek oor feminisme in moderne liefdesverhale op die Romanzalesersblog begin.

Die perfekte oplossingStiletto's van staalKaapse draai
HandomkeerSeisoen van lig en donkerMarlet se droomman

In die artikel belig Norton die kern van die romanse: “Vroue word op ’n subtiele wyse bemagtig.” Sy sê dat daar ’n waardige plek is vir feminisme in liefdesverhale. “Dié genre se heldinne is sterk vroue: besigheidsvroue, onderwysers, joernaliste, prokureurs – noem maar op. En so is die lesers, want die heldin is die leser se alterego.”

Voorbeelde van sterk heldinne kom voor in boeke soos Die perfekte oplossing deur Dirna Ackermann, Stiletto’s van staal deur Bernette Bergenthuin, Kaapse draai deur Alma Carstens en Handomkeer deur Madelie Human.

Verskeie skrywers het ook aan die gesprek deelgeneem. Alta Cloete, die outeur van Seisoen van lig en donker, het gesê: “Ware woorde oor feminisme en romantiese fiksie.”

Lees die artikel en kommentaar:

Die feministe vergeet gerieflikheidshalwe dat romantiese fiksie ’n genre is wat deur vroulike skrywers oorheers word. Of dat dit vroue toegelaat het om hul eie geld te verdien in ’n era voor vroue die arbeidsmark kon betree.

Vurige heldinne lewer beslis ’n bydra tot die opheffing van vroue. Of dit so direk is soos die heldinne van die Davelvroue-reeks of meer indirek deur rolmodelle te wees.

Die Amerikaanse skrywer, Suzanne Brockmann, sê oor haar heldinne: “Ek dink die boodskap wat ek deur my boeke stuur is dat vroue sterk kan wees. En dat vroue sterk moet wees.”

Ons wil hoor wat julle dink: Word vroue deur liefdesverhale bemagtig?


Farewell to PD James, Bestselling and Critically Acclaimed Crime Fiction Author

Cover Her FaceThe Children of MenDeath Comes To Pemberley

PD James, best-selling British crime fiction author, passed away on Thursday morning. She was 94, and has more than 20 novels to her name.

James wrote meticulously researched and critically acclaimed novels. Her debut novel, Cover her Face, was released in 1962. Her last book published was Death Comes to Pemberley, a spin-off of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A number of her novels were adapted for film and television. Adam Dalgliesh, the detective hero who featured in many of her books, is well-known around the world.

In an article for BBC News, Nick Higham wrote that James was determined to keep writing even in her old age because, as she said, “the thing about being a writer is that you need to write”.

In the article, Higham collected tributes from a number of writers.

Read the article:

Fellow authors paid tribute to James, including Ruth Rendell, who was a close friend and fellow life peer.

“She was wonderfully accurate in her police work; she really took great pains about it. She took great care and she got it right. She did not make mistakes, she saw to it that she didn’t,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Front Row programme.

Richard Lea, for The Guardian, wrote about James’ life and how she came to write. She had a long, interesting life and her novels will undoubtedly continue to enthrall readers for years to come.

Read the article:

Born in 1920, James left school at 16 to follow her father into a career in the Inland Revenue. She married Connor White at 21 and moved to London, giving birth to two daughters as German bombers pounded the British capital. Her husband returned from the war with mental health problems, leaving James to provide for her young family by working in hospital administration. With her daughters at boarding school and her husband in hospital, evenings become devoted to writing.

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WWI was not a White Man’s War – Tim Couzens at the Launch of The Great Silence


The Great SilenceTim Couzens’ latest book, The Great Silence: From Mushroom Valley to Delville Wood, South African Forces in World War One, was launched at the Ditsong National Museum of Military History recently.

In The Great Silence Couzens examines the role played by South African forces in World War I. The middle five sections of the book deal with the five “theatres of war” that South Africans were involved in: The Maritz Rebellion, the invasion of German South-West Africa, German East-Africa, Egypt, and South African troops in France leading up to the Battle of Delville Wood.

Couzens explained the structure of the book, saying: “As in most of my books I believe in never going beyond the historical evidence, but I also believe that history and life are extremely complex. So I always try to write with poetic techniques in mind. The first chapter and the last chapter are deliberately put there.”

Chapter 1 focuses on the Battle of Strandfontein, which Couzens says “you are unlikely to have heard of unless you are into military history”, but which he insists can be seen as a vignette of the war as a whole, fought as it was with artillery, machine guns and barbed wire.

“The book, then, begins with noise. Fantastic noise. Which is the main symbol, perhaps, of the First World War,” he said, “and ends in a different way with a discussion of the black involvement in the war. And ends in silence.”

Couzens says the description of the First World War as a “white man’s war” “couldn’t be further from the truth”.

“It was a world war. And many of the troops were coloured troops, and the South African black troops were interestingly involved.”

Couzens also spoke about the effect of the First World War on him personally, saying he has been “wounded twice” by the conflict, despite not being physically involved. According to Couzens, the scope of this affect can most accurately be described by the concept of the sublime.

“The first wound came when I stood in the cemetery of Tyne Cot at Passchendaele,” he explained. “The eighteenth century had a concept called the sublime, which it picked up from the classic Latin poet Longinus, which was an intellectual concept. It referred to both the idea of either infinity or eternity and to the mind’s reaction to that idea. The sublime is that mind-shattering feeling you get, a sort of catch in your throat, when you try to imagine the infinite. It’s the same with eternity.

“When you stand at the cemetery at Tyne Cot in front of these massed headstones of 11 000 soldiers, many of them known only to God, it is quite extraordinary, and you get to the point of almost infinity.

“And then behind the cemetery, there’s a wall with the names of 34 000 soldiers who were never found. They were probably buried in mud, or in dug-outs that collapsed, or they were blown apart.

“The Romantic poets and prose writers, like Keats and Wordsworth and Hazlitt, took the idea of the sublime and applied it to the real world in two ways: the sublime vastness of nature, and how the poet or the viewer responds to the sublime. The other way you can approach France and Flanders is through a single individual. You go and find their graves. And you’re hit by the enormity of their single death.

“And the contrast between those the vastness and the individuality also is a kind of sublime feeling of ‘God, this is truly fantastic, this is truly appalling.’”

The Great Silence is one of the first books to come out of the new Times Media publishing division. Ben Williams, Books LIVE founder and Sunday Times books editor, said he and his team were delighted to work with Couzens.

Read Wiliams’ introduction from the launch:

Welcome to the launch of Tim Couzens’ The Great Silence: From Mushroom Valley to Delville Wood, South African Troops in World War One.

It’s an apposite moment for the launch of this book, as Remembrance Day is just around the corner, and Flanders fields are on our minds again.

My name is Ben Williams. I’m the books editor of the Sunday Times, and the lucky publisher, with Brett Hilton-Barber of Art Publishers, of Tim’s book.

Over the last many months, it’s been the greatest of pleasures to work with Tim, an author who may not require introduction, but who certainly deserves one.

For Professor Tim Couzens is a towering figure on the landscape of South African scholarship, an internationally esteemed social historian with a fistful of awards, including the prestigious Alan Paton Award for his book Tramp Royal: The True Story of Trader Horn.

Other books of Tim’s include Murder at Morija: Faith, Mystery, and Tragedy on an African Mission; The New African: A Study of the Life and Work of HIE Dhlomo; and the recently-published South African Battles, which quickly became a bestseller.

What sets Tim apart from his colleagues is his matchless skill for storytelling. He has an unerring eye for the people who make history, for odd anecdotes and telling detail.

For example, in this book you’ll find the tale of Jackie the Baboon, who accompanied South African troops to the Western Front, took shrapnel and returned home a war hero who had lost his leg. You’ll also find insets on seven other of the war’s more extraordinary characters, plus over 150 photographs, maps and graphics – and archival material from the Sunday Times, which of course was well-established when war broke out in 1914.

When we decided, at the Sunday Times, to publish a book on South Africa’s involvement in this war, there was only one person we wanted to write it, and, as we hoped, to impeccable research Tim has added his trademark humaneness, turning out an astonishing read. The Great Silence takes us, across five theatres, into the dark heart of the Great War and its echo chamber in Africa.

Few historians can truly make the past live, or teach us something about the world today. Tim Couzens is one of them, and when you read his book you’ll find yourself haunted, first, by the sounds of war – the artillery, the Minenwerfers and the hideous whizz-bangs – and second, by the vast silences that World War I left in its wake, silences personified in the cemeteries of Nantes, Ypres and many other places haunted by the war dead.

My thanks are due to Brett Hilton-Barber and his team at Art Publishers for being our partners in what has turned out to be a marvelous publishing adventure. Thanks, too, to my colleagues Michele Magwood and Jennifer Platt, who assisted the publishing process in innumerable ways. And extra thanks to Reneé Naudé, who leads the Sunday Times publishing team and is almost as directly responsible for the publication of this book as Tim himself. Everyone, we have a book on our hands that we can be proud of.

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Jennifer Malec (@ProjectJennifer), Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) and Ben Williams (@benrwms) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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  • The Great Silence: From Mushroom Valley to Delville Wood, South African Forces in World War One by Tim Couzens
    EAN: 9781920380359
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

The Puppet is Free to Speak About Steve Hofmeyr: Court Rules in Favour of Chester Missing

Chester Missing's Guide to the Elections '14Steve Hofmeyr 50The big Twitter war between ventriloquist Conrad Koch’s puppet Chester Missing, one of New African 100 most influential Africans of 2014, and Afrikaans singer and author Steve Hofmeyr was temporarily resolved in the Randburg Magistrate Court yesterday with the judge ruling in favour of Missing.

Infamous Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt brought an application to court for a temporary interdict preventing Missing from speaking out against Hofmeyr to be made permanent after Missing took to Twitter to call Hofmeyr out on public racism. “The campaign publicly denounced and ridiculed Hofmeyr’s views and encouraged others, including companies to distance themselves from Hofmeyr’s views,” eNCA reports.

Comedic puppet Chester Missing had the last laugh on Thursday after a courtroom show that left legal eagles chuckling.

Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt failed in his bid to get a final protection order against Missing’s puppet master, comedian and ventriloquist Conrad Koch, to stop him “harassing” Afrikaans musician Steve Hofmeyr.

Hofmeyr tweeted on October 23: “Sorry to offend but in my books blacks were the architects of apartheid. Go figure.”
Budlender said the tweet implied that black people brought apartheid upon themselves.

“Hofmeyr is well known for making controversial statements, and has publicly and vociferously supported rightwing politics.”

Missing’s first book, Chester Missing’s Guide to the Elections ’14, was published this year. Hofmeyr has written various novels and recently published Steve Hofmeyr 50 in celebration of his career in the music industry.

In a country well-versed in Twitter – where this fight originated – it was to great disappointment that the presiding judge disallowed reporters from tweeting live from court, and denied live broadcasting of the proceedings. However, this did not stop South Africans from tweeting about the affair:

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Margaret von Klemperer Reviews Esther’s House by Carol Campbell

Esther's HouseVerdict: carrot

Their lives may be beyond horrible in many ways, but Campbell’s characters can and often do enjoy themselves, and this is what gives her books the impetus that prevents them from being depressing. Esther and her family and friends are warm, flawed and real — and if the baddies are very, very bad, it gives the reader someone to hate. Esther’s House is a life-affirming story, and in the end good triumphs, not in a big spectacular way, but in one that is satisfying, human and humane.

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Eight New Book Dash Books Launched and an Ice Cream Fundraiser at The Creamery

Liz Sparg and a young reader

Perhaps the most startlingly original initiative to take place on the South African literary scene this year is the concept of ending knowledge poverty. With this in mind Book Dash took off with a grand and generous vision to give each South African child a hundred books by the age of five.

Marking the achievements to date, an unusual book event took place at an ice-cream parlour on 13 November – part celebration for the sweetness of eight new books finding their way into the world and part fundraiser to keep the books arriving at their destination. The Creamery donated 15 percent of all ice creams sold to Book Dash, alongside the equally novel fundraising project, Book Dash Thundafund campaign. At the time of writing this blog post, in excess of R44 000 has been raised.

Tarry-Anne AndersonArthur Attwell

Just over R5 000 in book sales and book donations on the evening (in-person purchases and via SnapScan), and the total raised from ice-cream purchases added a further 10 books to the pile.

On a single Book Dash day – there were three such days this year – teams of industry professionals volunteered their time, effort and energy, working fast together to make 22 beautiful children’s books. These are available to anyone to can translate, print and distribute under the Creative Commons license.

The trio of visionaries comprising this bold goal comprises Arthur Attwell, Michelle Matthews and Tarryn-Anne Anderson. If their vast goal for the children of South Africa is to be realised, it means giving 600 million free books to children who could never afford to buy them. Ordinary folks might shrug their shoulders and say “pie in the sky”. Extraordinary folk got down to work, began the process and then licked their scoops of delicious ice-cream.

The first Book Dash was a small affair test driving the process. The first major one took place in June with 40 folk contributing on the day. This led to three new books being given to little ones on Mandela Day at the Jireh early education centre in Mitchell’s Plain. The next was a Women’s Month Book Dash day in August, sponsored by Rock Girl, to tell the stories of remarkable South African women.

Book Dash Books and Ice CreamMichelle Matthews

Most recently the task of producing thousands of books to be distributed freely led to a crowd-funding initiative on Thundafund, calling on the public to donate whatever they can to help reach their goal of raising R200 000 by 18 December 2014.

Join Book Dash at The Book Lounge on the 11th of December. Everyone who makes a donation that evening, stands a chance to win a R500 Book Lounge voucher and the infinite good karma of contributing to this most worthwhile vision.

If you’d like to give the gift of giving for Chistmas this year, consider making a Thundafund donation of books to kids who need them from R300.

Watch the video, which illustrates the hard work and clear-cut vision behind Book Dash:

YouTube Preview Image

The books launched at The Creamery were;
A Dancer’s Tale by Sam Cutler, Thea Nicole de Klerk, Roberto Pita
Graca’s Dream by Karlien de Villiers, Melissa Fagan, Marike le Roux
Miss Helen’s Magical World by Wendy Morison, Jacqui L’Ange, Nadene Kriel
Queen of Soweto by Mia du Plessis, Jessica Taylor, Marli Fourie
Sindiwe and the Fireflies by Jano Strydom, Cheréne Pienaar, Tess Gadd
Singing the Truth by Louwrisa Blaauw, Jade Mathieson, Bianca de Jong
Together We’re Strong by Alice Toich, Liesl Jobson, Nazli Jacobs
Zanele Situ: My Story by Jesse Breytenbach, Liz Sparg, Andy Thesen

Forthcoming soon are The story of James Barry by Jean de Wet, Michelle Matthews and Bridgette Potton; and The story of Wangari Maathai by Maya Marshak and Nicola Rijsdijk.

Books by the big-hearted authors involved in Book Dash include:

Ma mère était une très belle femmeAdults OnlyFeast, Famine and PotluckThe ParadeThe Little Red HenThe Whole Food AlmanacSister-Sister

Ctrl Z my leweAs jy 'n ster sien verskietKilling TimeRide the TortoiseEmbracing Digital

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:

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