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Alert! The programme for this year’s @OpenBookFest has been revealed! Click here to see it: fb.me/3EVHbDBFa

Non-Fiction Friday: The Boer Whore by Nico Moolman

The Boer WhoreRead an excerpt from The Boer Whore, by Nico Moolman.

The Boer Whore tells the story of Susan Nell, a teenage rape victim in a British concentration camp during the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the twentieth century.

Nell became one of the world’s first woman psychiatrists, and then champion of women victims of the so-called Japanese “comfort stations” during World War II.

The Boer Whore has been adapted into an Afrikaans novel by Francois Smith, Kamphoer (Tafelberg), and according to Moolman the film rights have been sold to a very exciting producer.

From the back of the book:

Throughout history men got medals, while women got allocated buckets of tears and bales of wreaths after each war. (Sometimes … only a poppy.)

The old adage, “All is fair in love and war,” could only have been coined by a man that won a battle by waging it outside the rules of the day.

The The Boer Whore, Nico Moolman takes you beyond the obvious and the sublime.

From the terrifying concentration camps on Winburg during the Anglo Boer War – called by the Sotho nation “Balla Bosiu”, where they cry at night – to the killing fields of the Somme and the Verdun during WWI and Death Railway in Thailand during WWII, we follow the trails of a woman scorned. Hence another adage, “Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned”.

Likewise a man that forfeited fair play must have written it.

Susan Nell, an inmate of Winburg’s concentration camp, has a bone to pick with those that violated and disgraced her on Hogmanay, that is New Year’s Eve, 1901/1902.

“None so brave as the dead,” has for millenia echoed from within the wild pheasant’s cry, according to Khoisan legend.

Susan Nell proved it to be true …

Read the excerpt:

The Boer Whore Book Excerpt (1/2) by Books LIVE

The Boer Whore Book Excerpt (2/2) by Books LIVE

Margaret von Klemperer Reviews The Violent Gestures of Life by Tshifhiwa Mukwevho

The Violent Gestures of LifeVerdict: carrot

Although this book is being punted as a novel, it seems to draw a great deal on the author’s own background.

The publisher’s blurb calls it “a novel about incarceration by one who understands it from the inside”, so there is an element of thinly veiled autobiography here, and it is none the worse for that.

Book Details

SP Olivier resenseer Vaarwel, klein soldaat deur Piet van Rooyen

Vaarwel, klein soldaatUitspraak: stokkie

Ek het terwyl ek lees al hoe meer die gevoel gekry dat die roman iets anders moes wees. Dalk ’n kortverhaal, met die gegewe gesny tot op die been (los byvoorbeeld die twee Chinese vroue heeltemal uit). Of ’n omvattende lywige werk, drie- of vierhonderd bladsye, waarin die familiesage met al sy intriges (soos in Eric van Lustbader se The miko) tot sy volle reg kan kom.

Die feit dat daar saam met Vaarwel, klein soldaat ’n tweede roman van Piet van Rooyen in dieselfde jaar verskyn het (Rodriguez), is miskien ’n aanduiding dat die skrywer te maklik met sy materiaal omgaan en dat sy sukses as skrywer sy uitgewers minder krities maak as wat hulle behoort te wees.

Boekbesonderhede

Danie Botha en Martie Retief-Meiring resenseer Die pad byster deur Nicola Hanekom

Die pad bysterUitspraak: een geelwortel en een houtwortel

Die tekste is goed versorg deur redakteur Danél Hanekom en proefleser Martjie Bosman. Hanli Deysel se ontwerp en tipografie is voortreflik. Menige toneelpraktisyn sal die groter bladspieël as gewoonlik verwelkom. Hulle sal Nicola Hanekom dankbaar wees vir hoogs bruikbare tekste.

Dramatekste val nie dikwels onder jou leesvoorkeure nie. Waarom nie? Skuil daar nie in elke siel ’n geheime (ook nie altyd so geheim nie) drang om regisseur te wees, ’n rolprent te “maak”, ’n stelontwerper te word, die beligting op ’n verhoog te “bestuur” nie? Natuurlik het die meeste van ons wat met ’n greintjie verbeelding belas is, ’n sluimerende Steven Spielberg, of selfs ’n Marthinus Basson, in ons.

Met die lees van Nicola Hanekom se twee dramas Hol en Trippie in Die pad byster sal die geheime regisseur in ons ’n, sê maar, weghol-trippie beleef.

Boekbesonderhede

Marlene van Niekerk in gesprek met Alfred Schaffer oor sy veelsydige digterskap

 

Mens dier dingKaarDit is inderdaad ʼn besonder verrykende geleentheid as nie net een nie, maar twee veelbekroonde digters met mekaar in gesprek tree. Boonop leen so ʼn gesprek hom tot verdere moontlikhede as die een digter in hierdie gesprek ʼn verteenwoordiger is van die Afrikaanse letterkunde en die ander van die Nederlandse letterkunde.

Op 21 Augustus 2014 het Marlene van Niekerk ʼn gesprek met Alfred Schaffer oor sy “veelsydige digterskap” gevoer. Dié geleentheid is gehou by die Klein Libertas-teater in Stellenbosch tydens die Departement Afrikaans en Nederlands (US) se tweejaarlikse kollokwium. Beide Van Niekerk en Schaffer is as dosente aan dié departement verbonde.

Van Niekerk het die gesprek ingelei deur te verwys na Schaffer se literêre status, onder andere met verwysing na sy gepubliseerde bundels, die nuutste hiervan is die 2014-verskene Mens Dier Ding; die toekennings wat hy sedert sy debuut in 2000 ontvang het; en die verskeie tale waarin sy bundels reeds vertaal is. In 2013 verskyn die bundel Kom binne, dit vries daar buite (Protea Boekhuis). Dit is ʼn keur uit Schaffer se Nederlandse bundels met vertalings van die gedigte in Afrikaans deur Daniel Hugo.

In die bestek van bietjie meer as twee ure kon die gehoor meer te wete kom oor Schaffer se veelsydigheid as digter, asook die verskeie invloede op sy digkuns – van musiek en populêre kultuur tot ander skrywers soos Nachoem Wijnberg, John Ashbery en Anne Carson se werk. Interessant is dat Schaffer nie van jongs af ʼn digter wou word nie, maar eerder ʼn sokkerspeler (hy het ʼn groot bewondering vir Lionel Messi) of musikant (hy was in Nederland lid van die musiekgroep Naar Tevredenheid). Hy sê aan Van Niekerk dat hy wel op die ouderdom van 14 of 15 ʼn werklike belangstelling in die poësie ontwikkel het na die lees van Vasalis se gedig “Idioot in een bad”. Hierna het hy as tiener ʼn paar van sy “juveniele” poësie-probeerslae gebundel in ʼn boekie met die titel Carnaval de melaatsen en dit aan sy onderwyser Gé Vaartjes gegee om kommentaar te lewer. Dit sou egter eers na sy doktorale studie oor primordialiteit in die letterkunde en met ‘n studiebesoek aan Suid-Afrika wees dat hy besef hy wil poësie skryf.

Schaffer het voorgelees uit Kom binne, dit vries daar buite en Mens Dier Ding. Sy nuutste bundel handel oor Shaka die Zoeloe-koning en die verskillende gedaantes wat hy in dié bundel aanneem met die beeld(e) wat daar van hom in die geskiedenis bestaan. Die digter se belangstelling in die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis (in ʼn veelheid van fasette) en die identiteitsproblematiek in Suid-Afrika blyk duidelik. Ook vir Schaffer is vraagstukke rondom identiteit van belang, hy is gebore as seun van ʼn Nederlandse pa en moeder van Aruba. Kontrasterende ruimtes soos Nederland en die Antille en later Suid-Afrika, asook vraagstukke rondom ruimte en identiteit val op in Schaffer se poësie.

Die Departement Afrikaans en Nederlands kan trots voel om twee skrywers van dié statuur aan hul departement verbonde te hê, maar ook op dié reël van so ʼn kollokwium wat die gesprek tussen digters nie beperk tot die akademie nie en dit na ʼn leserspubliek bring.

Verslag deur Suzanne Potgieter, ‘n voormalige kollega van Schaffer en Van Nierkerk

Boekbesonderhede

Bhuku Girl Reviews Walk by James Whyle

WalkVerdict: carrot

I first found out about James Whyle from my partner who had read his books. His first book the Book of War was published in 2012 to critical acclaim. Walk is his second book.

Walk tells the story of a deadly fight for survival along The South African coastline. It’s the story of the survivors of the Grosvenor on the 5th of August 1782. It is the true and horrific tale of a boy’s survival in the face of unbelievably hard challenges.

Book Details

Chantelle Gray van Heerden Reviews October by Zoe Wicomb

OctoberVerdict: carrot

Wicomb’s portrayal of these many, often conflicting, roles women have to reconcile seamlessly in their thoughts is vivid and poignant, maddening and at the same time completely – intimately – known. But what was for me equally remarkable in reading this novel is that Wicomb does not assuage the burden men assume to emphasise that of women. Rather, she pushes against the edges of representation and time after time wrests from each character poses, thoughts, actions – a gesture, a pause, a glance, a word, a half-thought sentence – which compels surprising, even clashing, emotions in the reader so that like Mercia, the reader simultaneously resists and embraces any notions of family, loyalty and home. Because where is home? Who is home? Does Mercia leave home or is home taken from her when her long-time partner, Craig, leaves her for another woman? And is home really so ethereal that it can be left or taken away at a whim, or is it solid, like a rock? And is it home that makes us what we are? That carves out our identity long before we know how those two words (home, identity) will chaff against each other in life; moulding, tearing, shaping, breaking.

Book Details

Marius Crous resenseer Die stilte opgeskort deur Heilna du Plooy

Die stilte opgeskortUitspraak: wortel

Heilna du Plooy het by meer as een geleentheid opgemerk dat sy nie, soos sy dit in die genoemde onderhoud stel, “met oortuiging aweregs en skokkend” is in haar poësie nie.

Dit is geensins nodig om aweregs of skokkend te wees nie: In hierdie derde digbundel verskuif sy eweneens genoeg grense.

Boekbesonderhede

Bibi Burger resenseer Siobhán van die sirkus deur Jaco Fouché

 Siobhán van die sirkusUitspraak: wortel met kritiek

Fouché gebruik die sirkusomgewing om op ’n subtiele manier kwessies rondom identiteit, geslagsrolle, seksualiteit en verhoudings te verken. Soos Siobhán oor haar narklere sê: “As ’n mens vermom is, kan jy enigiets doen.” Wat Fouché se presiese boodskap rondom hierdie temas is, is nie duidelik nie. Ek beskou dit as ’n positiewe eienskap van die roman, omdat dit die werklikheid weerspieël. Volwassenes het nie noodwendig die antwoorde op hierdie kwessies nie, en dit is nie noodwendig by die volwasse kampleier, Klein-Piet, se lesse dat Siobhán die meeste leer nie, maar eerder by die goed waarmee hy self sukkel. Só probeer Fouché nie vanuit die posisie van volwasse skrywer antwoorde bied nie, maar beeld hy soos met sy ander romans op ’n genuanseerde manier karakters se soeke en reise uit en laat die interpretasiewerk aan die leser oor.

Boekbesonderhede

South Africans at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival: Round-up

South Africans at the Edinburgh Festival

A number of South Africans, including Lauren Beukes, Niq Mhlongo, Margie Orford, Mark Gevisser, Damon Galgut, Zakes Mda and CA Davids, were guests at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival this year.

Broken MonstersWay Back HomeWater MusicArctic SummerThe Sculptors of Mapungubwe

The Blacks of Cape TownThe Book of ForgivingThe Savage HourLost and Found in Johannesburg

Check out the extensive coverage from Africa in Words and Edinburgh Spotlight, as well as all the action on Twitter:

Beukes and Davids spoke about how their work treads the line between South African and Global, as well as the problem of genre fiction, in an event chaired by Stuart Kelly:

“The first idea was raceless,” says Davids, speaking of her debut work The Blacks of Cape Town, “but I had to go into race.” Though at its heart, the novel is a fictional family history focusing on the limits of forgiveness. “People have taken a step back,” she says. “Forgiveness is a very important part of the South African discourse.”

Beukes’ novel Broken Monsters is set in Detroit, a world seemingly at first far removed from South Africa. Describing the American city as “the ruins of our civilisation”, Beukes goes on to draw parallels with her chosen setting and her homeland, describing it as an “analog for Johannesburg”, and how her latest work examines how “we’re all broken inside.”

Isobel Dixon (@isobeldixon) tweeted from the event:

In another event, Beukes shared the floor with Russian author Mikhail Shishkin in a discussion about the power of language, with novelist and critic Peter Guttridge as chair:

Both writers then go on to discuss their approaches to writing. Shishkin describes how he feels like the servant to his writing’s master, with his role being to transcribe what the novel dictates to him. Beukes speaks of how her novels often spring from a strong mental image, with the writing then “developing like a polaroid”.

James Smith, Professor of African and Development Studies and Vice Principal International at the University of Edinburgh, attended Gevisser’s event, as well as Beukes and Davids’, and wrote a thoughtful guest blog for Africa in Words, entitled: “The Responsibility of Writing in/for/about South Africa – after the Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2014″:

I think it is very easy to get caught up in ordinals and dichotomies – a particular book is this or that and therefore ultimately is more or less South Africa. This makes for too-easy a nuance, which is not really nuance at all. We simply need to hyphenate or concatenate and we have new things which are possibly not really new and almost certainly didn’t need defining. For Beukes in particular, thinking about the delineations of genres or “genre wars” is a pointless exercise, it’s the mix that matters as that is what drives experimentation and enables more people to write. Davids is possibly the writer of the three who most closely identifies with ‘SA Lit’ but equally felt that the sheer growing diversity of South African, African and ‘global’ literature was great.

Edinburgh Book Fest (@edbookfest) tweeted from the event:

Katie Read attended Damon Galgut’s event, which was chaired by Claire Armitstead, books editor of The Guardian and The Observer. Armitstead pointed out that despite Arctic Summer being a very different book to Galgut’s other work, certain themes recur: “travel, the search for identity, particularly sexual identity”. The author conceded that writing Forster’s life was a way of writing his own life, “giving voice in a ‘coded way’ to some ‘overlapping’ aspects he and Forster may have shared”.

According to Galgut, what Forster was not was “a politically aware person … this comes through in everything”. Armitstead points out that the strange colonial society Forster moves in is informed in Arctic Summer by two locations, two colonial possessions, India and Egypt. Forster worked in Egypt for the Red Cross during the Great War, between his visits to India. (His first trip was in 1913 and he returned to see Masood in 1921.) That Forster felt differently about his own status in each place is clearly written in the novel. In the Book Fest session, Galgut responds to this question about location by saying that it’s no accident that Forster “lived out his emotional life to the extent that he did when he was far from home” – in India with Masood, and in Egypt, with Mohammed el-Adl, an Alexandrian tram conductor with whom Forster had his first sexual relationship and love affair.

Edinburgh Book Fest (@edbookfest) tweeted from the event:

General Twitter round-up of South Africa news from the festival: