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Fiction Friday: read an excerpt from the worst/most hilarious sex scene ever published in an African novel

For your reading pleasure (ahem) today’s Fiction Friday piece is an excerpt from Mongo Beti’s 1956 novel, The Poor Christ of Bomba, set in 1930s Cameroon.

Think missionaries. Think syphilis. Think priests losing their virginity. Think ridiculous sex scenes.


*Deep breath*

Here goes:

It was last night, and I suspected nothing. I was simply lying on my bed and I was worried about the Reverend Father who was down with fever on account of that accident on the river. I thought with terror of all the water he had vomited on the river bank. I suspected nothing. I couldn’t know. And she knocked at my door. Before I could get up to see who it was, she was inside, because I’d forgotten to push the bolt. Oh, I should have suspect then! She was in my room. Before I could say anything she struck a match and said: “Aren’t you asleep? Ah, I’ve caught you thinking about girls, you little wretch!”

I said nothing. I was too surprised. By the brief flare of the match, I saw her white combination, her naked throat, her breasts which swelled out, her garment just where the shoulder-straps began.

Already she was sitting on my bed. The match had gone out and it was once again quite dark in my room. I was propped up on my left elbow. In the angle of my stomach and my legs I felt the pressure of her almost naked back. Then she slightly rubbed herself against my thighs, moving her bottom to and fro. And I stayed there resting on my elbow, saying nothing because I was too astonished.

I had never been so close to a girl. And I began to be afraid. My heart was beating with a terrible violence and with each beat the blood mounted to my head like a river in spate and made me shake. A devilish tom-tom was pounding in my ears, sirens were screaming in my skull. It sounded as if an aeroplane was loose in there. That girl had unloosed all the cacophony of hell in my head. Why didn’t I take warning in time, my God? Oh, that girl…I should have watched out. It would have been better to run out of the room. I still wonder what kept me there.

All this time the bottom of her naked body was there in the pit of my stomach. The bottom of her back which she kept moving to and fro. Once, I moved towards the wall to get away from her touch, but she moved too and I felt her there again more acutely than before.

She said: “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I can’t go to sleep. And neither can you, it seems.

I said nothing and she gave a deep laugh. I heard her laughing in little chuckles.

She said again: “Go on you priest, you! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? A fine little man like you playing at priests. What an idea!”

I said nothing. I stayed resting there on my left elbow. She pushed still harder against me, wriggling her hips.

I was helpless with all that racket in my head: bells clanged away wildly as if it were a day of consecration for a new church; the aeroplane engine which was revving up for take-off; the sirens singing in chorus for some unknown festival, and that accursed tom-tom. Now there were xylophones as well. And that machine which made my whole chest tremble as if I were in a train or riding a lorry on a road torn by the rains.

My throat was dry.

She said again: “Why don’t you say something? What’s wrong with you?”

Three times I wetted my lips, and I managed to say: “this is my room, not Zachariah’s. I came here because it was too stuffy in the other house, but it’s my room…”

I noticed that my voice was doing tremolos like the new Vicar when he’s singing the Mass.

She laughed and said: “Do you think I’m going to eat you?”

I felt sweat pouring all over me, on my brow, my hair, my arms, my stomach, my back. I was shivering with fright…No, I wasn’t afraid; I must have been hot, because I was sweating…Agh! I can’t say now whether I was cold or hot. I was sweating great drops and at the same time I was shivering as if I’d slept out in the rain. My chest was bursting.

My sex was worrying me, because it wanted to stand up, like it does at dawn when the doves are singing. But there wasn’t room for it to stand up; that girl Catherine was pressing against me so hard.

Suddenly I wanted to piss! I felt certain that if my sex, struggling to stand up, went on butting against that girl’s naked back, I would finish up wetting my bed. However, I had taken a piss before going to bed.

She lighted a match and looked at me. Then she asked: “Why are you so scared?”

Continue reading here. You deserve a good laugh.

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Attend a Short Story Day Africa Flow Workshop

Short Story Day Africa in partnership with the Goethe-Institut invite submissions to attend a series of one day workshops in the following cities:

Johannesburg, South Africa | 27 May 2017

Cape Town, South Africa | 27 May 2017

Nairobi, Kenya | 3 June 2017

Windhoek, Namibia | 3 June 2017

Yaoundé, Cameroon | 3 June 2017

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | 3 June 2017

Kigali, Rwanda | 10 June 2017 | By Invitation Only.

Writers working on entries for the prestigious 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize, or wanting to begin drafting an entry for the prize, are invited to submit an application.

Click here for more.

10 books to read this Freedom Day

23 years ago, on the 27th of April 1994, South Africa celebrated its first non-racial democratic election, with Nelson Mandela inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa on Tuesday 10 May at the Union Building in Pretoria.

We recommend the following books, both works of fiction and non-fiction, as an introduction to South Africa’s apartheid history and the country’s transition to democracy:

Freedom in Our LifetimeFreedom in our Lifetime
Anton Lembede, edited by Robert R Edgar and Luyanda ka Msumza

When a group of young political activists met in 1944 to launch the African National Congress Youth League, it included the nucleus of a remarkable generation of leaders who forged the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa for the next half century: Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Ellen Kuzwayo and AP Mda. It was Anton Lembede, however, whom they chose as their first president.

Lembede, who had just begun practicing law in Johannesburg, was known for his sharp intellect, fiery personality, and unwavering commitment to the struggle at hand.

His untimely death in 1947 at the age of 33 sent a wave of grief through the Congress Youth, who had looked to him for moral as well as political leadership. With the publication of Freedom in our Lifetime, we acknowledge Lembede’s early contribution to the freedom movement, in particular his passionate and eloquent articulation of the African-centered philosophy he called “Africanism”.

Long Walk to FreedomLong Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.

Long Walk to Freedom is his moving and exhilarating autobiography. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life–an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.
Country of My Skull
Antjie Krog

Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country–one of spectacular beauty and promise–come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors?

To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha’s extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey. Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission’s work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog’s powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog’s profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.
I Write What I Like
Steve Biko

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Like all of Steve Biko’s writings, those words testify to the passion, courage, and keen insight that made him one of the most powerful figures in South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. They also reflect his conviction that black people in South Africa could not be liberated until they united to break their chains of servitude, a key tenet of the Black Consciousness movement that he helped found.

I Write What I Like contains a selection of Biko’s writings from 1969, when he became the president of the South African Students’ Organization, to 1972, when he was prohibited from publishing. The collection also includes a preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu; an introduction by Malusi and Thoko Mpumlwana, who were both involved with Biko in the Black Consciousness movement; a memoir of Biko by Father Aelred Stubbs, his longtime pastor and friend; and a new foreword by Professor Lewis Gordon.

Biko’s writings will inspire and educate anyone concerned with issues of racism, postcolonialism, and black nationalism.
A Passion for Freedom
Mamphela Ramphele

The richly anecdotal story of an extraordinary life – when baby Mamphela was born to teacher parents in the rural village of Kranspoort few would have predicted that she would become not only a medical doctor, but an international leader and the founder of not one but two new political movements. As a young woman, Mamphela was instrumental in creating the ideology of Black Consciousness with her partner, Steve Biko. As an accomplished and well-off businesswoman who had reached the pinnacle of success, this year she felt compelled to start Agang SA, to provide South African voters with an alternative to the inept and increasingly corrupt ANC.

In this very readable autobiography, Mamphela Ramphele vividly describes her rural childhood, her extended family, her first loves and losses – after the death of her firstborn, she nearly lost her and Steve’s baby after his death by torture – and her subsequent successes in both politics and business.

Cry, the Beloved CountryCry, the Beloved Country
Alan Paton

Cry, the Beloved Country is one of the most famous and important novels in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty.

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.”

The eminent literary critic Lewis Gannett wrote, “We have had many novels from statesmen and reformers, almost all bad; many novels from poets, almost all thin. In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country the statesman, the poet and the novelist meet in a unique harmony.”

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.
July's PeopleJuly’s People
Nadine Gordimer

For years, it has been what is called a ‘deteriorating situation’. Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds. The members of the Smales family – liberal whites – are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his native village.

What happens to the Smaleses and to July – the shifts in character and relationships – gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.

Tomorrow is Another Country
Tomorrow is Another Country
Allister Sparks

The companion to Allister Sparks’s award-winning The Mind of South Africa, this book is an extraordinary account from South Africa’s premier journalist of the negotiating process that led to majority rule.

Tomorrow is Another Country retells the story of the behind-the-scenes collaborations that started with a meeting between Kobie Coetsee, then minister of justice, and Nelson Mandela in 1985. By 1986, negotiations involved senior government officials, intelligence agents, and the African National Congress. For the next four years, they assembled in places such as a gamepark lodge, the Palace Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, a fishing hideaway, and even in a hospital room.

All the while, De Klerk’s campaign assured white constituents nothing would change. Sparks shows how the key players, who began with little reason to trust one another, developed friendships which would later play a crucial role in South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid.

The Smell of Apples
The Smell of Apples
Mark Behr

Set in the bitter twilight of apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s, The Smell of Apples is a haunting story narrated by eleven-year-old Marnus Erasmus, who records the social turmoil and racial oppression that are destroying his own land.

Using his family as a microcosm of the corroding society at large, Marnus tells a troubling tale of a childhood corrupted, of unexpected sexual defilements, and of an innocence gone astray.

Kaffir Boy
Kaffir Boy
Mark Mathabane

Mark Mathabane was weaned on devastating poverty and schooled in the cruel streets of South Africa’s most desperate ghetto, where bloody gang wars and midnight police raids were his rites of passage. Like every other child born in the hopelessness of apartheid, he learned to measure his life in days, not years. Yet Mark Mathabane, armed only with the courage of his family and a hard-won education, raised himself up from the squalor and humiliation to win a scholarship to an American university.

This extraordinary memoir of life under apartheid is a triumph of the human spirit over hatred and unspeakable degradation. For Mark Mathabane did what no physically and psychologically battered “Kaffir” from the rat-infested alleys of Alexandra was supposed to do — he escaped to tell about it.

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Reading: Nick Mulgrew at Bridge Books

Join us for a reading by Nick Mulgrew from his Edge Hill Award-nominated debut Stations, and a new story from his forthcoming collection The First Law of Sadness.

Event Details

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Book Bites: 23 April 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

Heartbreak HotelHeartbreak Hotel
Jonathan Kellerman (Headline)
Book thrill
A refreshing departure for Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels. Instead of being thrown into LA’s sick psychosexual underworld, this novel opens with Delaware being asked to meet an almost-centenarian at a once-glamourous LA hotel. He likes the dynamic Thalia Mars, who asks him questions about guilt, victim selection and patterns of criminal behaviour. Thalia, though, is dispatched swiftly, and it’s up to Delaware and his cop pal, Milo Sturgis, to unravel her murder. A heart-thumping romp through LA gangster history, replete with jewel heists and blood feuds, Kellerman’s latest is the most genteel of his novels in a long time – and all the more enjoyable for it. – Russell Clarke @russrussy

Affinity Konar (Atlantic Books)
Book buff
Mischling is a horrifically beautiful novel that follows 12-year-old twins Stasha and Pearl. It’s 1944, and they’ve been brought into Auschwitz and placed in the notorious Mengele’s Zoo. “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele especially sought out twins to perform grotesque experiments on. The fictional tale has been well researched. Mengele is the main factual character. The rest are imaginary but, like the twins, have been modelled on people who suffered during the atrocity. Konar’s artistic prose sucks the reader into a nightmare where children endure the unbearable. The devastating contrast between the writing and the monstrosity creates an eerie and unforgettable read. Keep the tissues close. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Fiona Cummins (Pan Macmillan)
Book thrill
Former Daily Mirror showbiz journo Fiona Cummins’s debut thriller has a shout by Val McDermid, no less, and is rumoured to be in the works as a TV series. Detective Sergeant Ella Fitzroy is investigating a spate of missing children: her personal life is a mess so she invests her energy in her job, trying to discover what links the abductees. A psychopath is using London as his hunting ground, stealing children with bone deformities so he can add their skeletons to the collection in his private museum. A story the Daily Mirror would love. – Aubrey Paton

Turbo Twenty-ThreeTurbo Twenty-Three
Janet Evanovich (Headline)
Book fling
It’s just more of the same Stephanie Plum adventures: gun-wielding Lula, two unbelievably sexy gents vying for Plum’s attention (the cop Joe Morelli and the mysterious Ranger), her unconventional grandma, and Rex the hamster. Many readers must be hoping that this will be Evanovich’s last, because the magic seems to be dwindling – maybe due in part to the disastrous film adaptation with the badly miscast Katherine Heigl. The banality of this latest endeavour will not change their minds. But if you are looking for nothing more than a light, funny read, Turbo Twenty-Three is not too bad. In this one Stephanie has to go undercover in an ice-cream factory. Hi-jinks involving human lollies and nuts abound. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

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Jacket Notes: Lesley Smailes on why she needed to write about living 10 years in a cult in Cult Sister

Published in the Sunday Times

Cult Sister•Cult Sister
Lesley Smailes (Tafelberg)

Driven by a need for acceptance and a desire to be clean from all the drama of my high-school years, I gave my life to God after I wrote my final matric exam. Soon after finishing school I left on an overseas trip that, instead of being a gap-year, stretched into 10 years of being in a cult in America.

My long-suffering mother suggested I write a book after I returned to South Africa, but it was only 15 years later that I could write it. I wrote with the intention of exposing life in “the Church” – the cult I became part of. There’s plenty of information online about the Jim Roberts Group, but nothing as personal or as revealing as my story. I wanted to share some of the testimonies that surprised and wowed me on that long, strange journey.

My decade in the group radically changed me. It was not a fun, easy 10 years, but it sure was an interesting time. I married a man I hardly knew. I learned more than any university could have taught me. I acquired vital survival skills.

I lived out of a back pack I made myself. We gleaned all the fabric, zips, webbing and buckles for it from factory dumpsters and made designer gear like the camping shops sell. I felt like a fashionable baglady! Not only did we find stuff for camping gear in dumpsters, we found our food there too. Today this is now a hip trend called Freeganism. But we were the originals.

I had all three of my children at home in the cult. I discuss real women’s issues like birth, miscarriage, rape and abortion. I write about the complex inner workings of the church from a married sister’s point of view.

My story, though, is one of hope, forgiveness and healing.

I used the letters I had written to my mom as the skeleton of my book. They helped jog my memory. Memories are such elusive things: hiding, tucked away in the recesses of our mind, lurking in the background and waiting to be brought into the light.

I believe our testimonies are powerful and can help save us from ourselves if we choose to remember them and learn the valuable lessons they are meant to teach us.

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Amabookabooka releases unaired episode to coincide with 109th anniversary of the birth of Bram Fischer

Amabookabooka, the quirky podcast devoted to interviewing local authors about their work, recently released a special edition episode.

This episode is from a previous podcast series produced by the Amabookabooka-duo, Jonathan Ancer and Dan Dewes, called Extraordinary Lives and has been released to coincide with the 109th anniversary of the birth of Bram Fischer – described by Ancer and Dewes as the South African prime minister we should have had.

Lord Joel Joffe, a human rights lawyer, who was on the legal team that defended the Rivonia Trialists in 1964 talks about Bram, whom he describes as his hero.

Fischer’s daughter, Ilse Wilson, also joins in the conversation revealing a different side to the Scarlet Pimpernel – that of Bram the father.

Listen to the podcast here.

Bram Fischer

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The Bram Fischer Waltz


Fischer's Choice

Lives the numbers game: Michele Magwood talks to Paul Auster about his latest novel 4 3 2 1

Published in the Sunday Times

4 3 2 14 3 2 1
Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)

In the first cycle of Paul Auster’s colossal new book, a young boy is recovering in bed, having broken his leg falling out of a tree. He is musing on things more suited to an older child: on happenstance and destiny, on what is predetermined and what is fortuity or accidental. If his friend Chuckie Brower hadn’t asked him out to play, if his parents hadn’t bought a house with a tree in the backyard, if his parents had bought a house somewhere else and he wouldn’t even know Chuckie Brower. “Such an interesting thought, Ferguson said to himself: to imagine how things could be different for him even though he was the same. The same boy in a different house with a different tree.”

“So there, right at the beginning” says Paul Auster, “we’re being told what kind of book this is going to be, and how to read it.” He is speaking from his home in Brooklyn, his famously gravelled voice is warm and he is genial and expansive, despite dozens of interviews and appearances for the new book.

Now 70, Auster is a giant of American letters, frequently bracketed with De Lillo and Roth, or Thomas Pynchon. He is known as a writer of concision and elegant brevity and in latter years there have been murmurs of the Nobel Prize.

At 866 pages, though, 4 3 2 1 is a behemoth, a sprawling Bildungsroman that owes more to the German writer Heinrich Von Kleist than to spare modern stylists. A character’s description of Von Kleist could be applied to Auster here too: “The speed of his sentences, the propulsion. He tells and tells but doesn’t show much, which everyone says is the wrong way to go about it, but I like the way his stories charge forward.”

This is the story – or rather, four stories – of Archibald Ferguson, a Jewish boy born in New Jersey in 1947. He is the only child of Rose and Stanley and first we read of how they met and married. After that the story splits into four different trajectories, four different roads that Ferguson will travel.

In each of the contiguous versions, things change. The circumstances of his parents, for instance. In one Stanley dies in a fire, in another he divorces Rose. One Archie never has to worry about money, another gets by on scholarships and hauling furniture. One is bisexual, another learns he is sterile and will never have children. The extended cast of characters is the same, too, so his cousin Amy becomes a stepsister in one version, in another she’s no relation but Ferguson’s first great love.

Round and around the cycles whirl, charging on, intricately detailed, sentences streaming at times for half a page.

There are important similarities between the four. Every one of them is athletic and adores baseball and basketball, each will become a writer of some sort – poet, journalist, novelist – each loves old movies and classical music. All are precocious readers.

Midway through the book, however, they start to blur and one almost needs family trees to refer to. Is this the Ferguson whose cousin Francie is a saint or a harridan? Whose mother is a brilliant or a middling photographer or who has succumbed to depression? It is frustrating and all the reader can do is be carried along until it crystallises again.

“I didn’t want to write one of those wild fantasy books,” Auster explains. “Where one Archie becomes an astronaut, another becomes a scientist or a criminal. It didn’t seem plausible. They are the same genetic person, they have the same parents, after all. I didn’t want to do anything that seemed juvenile. I wanted to write a very serious book about human possibility.”

It is not a spoiler to say that one Archie dies, appallingly, at the age of 13 at summer camp. Another’s friend dies, equally awfully, at summer camp, a death that will stain that Archie’s life forever. Auster himself witnessed such a death at camp when he was 14, something he says has influenced his writing ever since. In much of his work cruel accidents or disaster strikes. This, then, seems to be the apogee of this theme.

“I think it’s the reason I wrote this book,” he agrees. “I was right next to my friend when he was killed in a lightning storm. It was probably the most important thing that happened to me in my young life. I had a sudden understanding that anything can happen at any moment to anybody. And that the solid ground I thought I’d been walking on up to that moment was not very solid at all. It’s affected me in all kinds of ways and certainly as a writer.”

4 3 2 1 is being described as “the crowning work of a masterful writer’s extraordinary career”. It’s going to be hard to cap that, but Auster has other plans. He was most recently in the headlines describing Donald Trump as “deranged and demented” and is determined to make his voice heard. He is set to become the head of PEN America next year. “Writing articles isn’t very useful, “ he says. “Anything I would publish would be read by people who agree with me. Whereas PEN has more of a presence in the world, a platform from which one can speak out more effectively.”

It reminds us of a note he wrote to JM Coetzee, with whom he has a close friendship. Their letters were published in 2013 in the book Here And Now, and in one he teases Coetzee about their advancing years. “I feel it is our duty to gripe and scold, to attack the hypocrisies, injustices, and stupidities of the world we live in. Let the young roll their eyes when we speak… we must carry on with utmost vigilance, scorned prophets crying into the wilderness – for just because we’re fighting a losing battle that doesn’t mean we should abandon the fight.”

Follow Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

*Listen to the podcast of Paul Auster here.

Book details

4 3 2 1 is also available as an eBook.

Literary Crossroads with Imraan Coovadia (SA) & Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria)

Literary Crossroads is a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora to discuss trends, topics and themes prevalent in their literatures today. The series is curated by Indra Wussow and Sine Buthelezi.

The guest speakers for the upcoming talk (to take place on May 16) will be Imraan Coovadia and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. The discussion will be moderated by Danyela Dimakatso Demir.

About the guests:

Imraan Coovadia is a writer and director of the creative writing programme at UCT. His most recent novel is Tales of the Metric System (2014), which appeared in the US, South Africa, India, and Germany.

He is the author of The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012), winner of the M-Net Prize, and a collection of essays, “Transformations” (2012), which won the South African Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction. In 2010 his novel High Low In-between won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the University of Johannesburg prize. He has published a scholarly monograph with Palgrave, “Authority and Authorship in V.S. Naipaul” (2009), two earlier novels, and a number of journal articles. His fiction has been published in a number of countries, and he has written for many newspapers, journals, and magazines here and overseas, including the New York Times, N+1, Agni, the Times of India, and Threepenny Review.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a Nigerian writer and journalist. His debut collection of short stories The Whispering Trees was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2014, with the title story shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. His debut novel Season of Crimson Blossoms was published in the UK in May 2016 by Cassava Republic Press. Abubakar is a Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow (2013) and a Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2015). In 2014, Abubakar was named in the Hay Festival Africa39 list of the most promising writers under the age of 40 who will define future trends in African writing. Abubakar is the recipient of the 2016 Goethe-Institut & Sylt Foundation African Writer’s Residency Award. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Event Details

The Institute for Taxi Poetry

Book details

Tales of the Metric System


The Whispering Trees


Season of Crimson Blossoms

Shortlist for Short Sharp Stories Awards announced

The shortlist for the Short.Sharp.Stories Awards has been announced.

The Short.Sharp.Stories Awards is an annual short story competition made possible by the National Arts Festival.

This year’s theme is “Trade Secrets.”

The judges have focused in the main on how successfully the story speaks to the brief, and have chosen stories which showcase a range of South African ‘voices’.

Congratulations to the following writers whose stories will be included in Trade Secrets and who are on the short list for this year’s awards.

2017 Short Sharp Stories Awards shortlist:

Olufemi Agunbiade
Darrel Bristow-Bovey
Jumani Clarke
Linda Daniels
Frieda-Marie De Jager
Ntsika Gogwana
Amy Heydenrych
Mishka Hoosen
Bobby Jordan
Sean Mayne
Mapule Mohulatsi
Kamil Naicker
Sally Partridge
Pravasan Pillay
Megan Ross
Andrew Salomon
Stephen Symons
Philisiwe Twijnstra
Philip Vermaas
Michael Yee

Trade Secrets will be published in June/July.

One Midlife Crisis and a Speedo

Book details


Call it a Difficult Night


Sharp Edges


Tokoloshe Song


Questions for the Sea