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.@TheFolioPrize 2015 Longlist Revealed, Including Damon Galgut, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and @dinawmengestu: bit.ly/13aY1hM

Archive for February, 2012

Get Roger Smith’s New Novella Ishmael Toffee Free for Kindle

Ishmael ToffeeCrime writer Roger Smith, author of Dust Devils, revealed on Twitter today that his just-released novella, titled Ishmael Toffee, is now available worldwide as a free Kindle download.

Like other local crime writers such as Deon Meyer and Margie Orford, Smith has proved to be an international success – his books are published in six countries, he’s won the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Fiction Award), and his books Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead are currently in development as feature films in the US.

Smith has been described by Cary Darling in the Washington Post as someone who “writes with the brutal beauty of an Elmore Leonard in a very bad mood”. And, if that’s not sufficiently incentivising, the free kindle edition of Ishmael Toffee is a good enough reason to get reading.


My just-released novella, ISHMAEL TOFFEE, is now #FREE on #kindle worldwide http://t.co/NYin5nK4 #crimefiction #thrillers #freeonkindleWed Feb 29 10:01:17 via web

Here’s the book blurb:

Ishmael Toffee has killed more men than he can remember. His knife put him behind bars and kept him there for twenty years as a prison gang assassin until he lost his taste for blood. Paroled, he finds himself with no money and no family. And no knife in his hand.

He gets a job as a gardener at the luxurious home of a prominent lawyer and makes an unexpected friend–Cindy, the lawyer’s six-year-old daughter. When Ishmael discovers that Cindy is being raped by her father he must choose: abandon the girl and walk away, or do what he does best…

Mixed BloodDust DevilsWake Up Dead

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Martyn Drakard Reviews Little Liberia by Jonny Steinberg

Little Liberia: An African Odyssey in New YorkVerdict: carrot

Little Liberia, as the title suggests, is about the Liberian community in a big Western metropolis: Staten Island, New York City. South African writer, Jonny Steinberg, follows the life journeys of two Liberians, Jacob and Rufus, whose paths cross. The book is, in its way, a critique of post-colonial Africa. Standing out from the crowd from early on, Rufus became a successful tailor in Liberia while the rest of his age-mates in Twelfth Street, Monrovia, were unemployed or casual workers.

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Johann de Jager resenseer Butch deur Butch James en Warren Snaith Haviside

ButchUitspraak: wortel

Daai ou met die stywe arm.

Dis wêreldwyd straks die eerste konnotasie met die noem van Butch James se naam, iets wat soos die einste liggaamsdeel altyd aan hom sal bly vaskleef.

Sy lewensverhaal sou onvolledig gewees het as dié netelige onderwerp nie daarin opgeduik het nie.

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Dries Brunt Reviews Bitter Pill by Peter Church

Bitter PillVerdict: carrot

This book is about smut. Extraordinary characters thrive in the dark world of drugs, blackmail, violence and sex – playful innocence destroyed in the gutter world of noisy bars, shooters and spiked drinks.

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Jonathan Amid Reviews Ants in the Big Onion by Annica Foxcroft

Ants in the Big OnionVerdict: carrot

Broadly speaking, there is something curiously humourless, even dour, about South African literature. For a society to take stock (and celebrate) its multiculturalism, diversity and miscellany of voices, its banalities as well as its triumphs, writers must surely embrace the comical and light-hearted side of things to balance out a focus on the tragic and interminable. Yet the average reader (and by “average” I truly mean the man in the street) would be hard pressed to wax lyrical about local authors that successfully and consistently wring belly laughs from their audiences.

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Marlies Taljard resenseer In die niks al om deur Rene Bohnen

In die niks al omUitspraak: wortel

René Bohnen se bundel in die niks al om kan maklik na die eerste lees te lig bevind word. Dit is ‘n bundel waarin die alledaagse en die metafisiese saam poësie word, ‘n bundel so deursigtig soos ‘n “bergkristalwaterval” (p.31) waarin diep die niet in gekyk word. Ten spyte van die eenvoud en oënskynlike deursigtigheid van die verse, is dit poësie wat met elke lees nuwe en diepliggende betekenis bykry. Hoewel die meesleurende metafore reeds met die eerste lees bekoor, is dit verse wat hulle rykdom eers na deeglike lees en herlees prysgee.

Spiritualiteit is die oorkoepelende tema van die bundel – ‘n spiritualiteit wat in die Zen-Boeddhisme gewortel is, maar dogma oorskry deur ‘n kleurvolle hibridisering van die numineuse belewenis. Bohnen se gedigte illustreer die oeroue beginsel dat die groot geheel deur al die kleiner onderafdelings daarvan gerepresenteer word. Daarom is die geestelike ervaring vir haar nooit onafhanklik van die nietige alledaagse nie. Weerspieëling in verskillende fasette kom dus by herhaling voor. Die beeld “waterlelies in die maankring” in die gedig kuswoudkus is byvoorbeeld ‘n variasie van die bekende Zen-simbool van die maan met sy weerkaatsing in die water wat illustreer hoe die groot maan in sy geheel in ‘n klein poeletjie water gereflekteer word – selfs in ‘n enkele druppel dou word die maan in sy geheel weerkaats.

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Africa is a Country Initiates Search for Africa’s Most Influential Thinker: Vote Now!

Chinua Achebe

Africa is a Country has initiated a poll asking members of the public to vote for the most influential African thinker alive. While they acknowledge that not everyone will be happy with the list of “thinkers” they have generated, they have tried to include a range of intellectuals from different parts of the continent – or, indeed, outside the continent.

In an attempt to counteract the limited nature of such lists, Africa is a Country will host a second round where readers’ suggestions will determine the choices. You can offer your suggestions for the second round of voting in the comments section below the poll, on Africa is a Country’s Facebook page or via Twitter.

Capitalism in the Age of GlobalizationThe Liberal VirusEthnicity, Inc.Modernity and its MalcontentsAnthills of the SavannahFrom Citizen to RefugeeScholars in the MarketplaceThe Honor CodeCosmopolitanism

Here’s the complete list, as decided by Africa is a Country:

Samir Amin, academic, activist, Senegal/Egypt (Author of The Liberal Virus, Capitalism in the Age of Globalisation)
Jean and John Comaroff, academics, South Africa/United States (Ethnicity, Inc., Modernity and its Malcontents)
Chinua Achebe, writer, Nigeria (Things Fall Apart, Anthills of the Savannah)
Mahmood Mamdani, academic, Uganda (From Citizen to Refugee, Sholars in the Marketplace)
Mamdouh Habashi, academic, politician, Egypt
Kwame Anthony Appiah, academic, philosopher, Ghana/United States (The Honour Code, Cosmopolitanism),
Achille Mbembe, academic, Cameroon/South Africa (On the Postcolony, Johannesburg:The Elusive Metropolis)
JM Coetzee, writer, South Africa/Australia (In the Heart of the Country, The Life and Times of Michael K)
Issa Shivji, academic, Tanzania (Let the People Speak, Accumulation in an African Periphery)
Nawal el Saadawi, writer and activist, Egypt (The Hidden Face of Eve, Women at Point Zero)
Wole Soyinka, writer, activist, Nigeria (You Must Set Forth at Dawn, The Open Sore of a Continent)
Virginie Toure, activist, Cote d’Ivoire

JohannesburgIn the Heart of the CountryLife and Times of Michael KLet the People SpeakAccumulation in an African PeripheryWoman at Point ZeroThe Hidden Face of EveThe Open Sore of a ContinentYou Must Set Forth at Dawn

More about the poll:

At the end of 2011 we contemplated asking you, dear reader, who you think was the most influential African thinker alive. We abandoned the idea for a while because of our thing against lists (except our end of year lists, of course). I got the initial idea from the British blog, Left Foot Forward, which had run a contest to determine “the most influential leftwing thinker of the year 2010/11.” The result of the Left Foot Forward contest is here. Based on reader choices, Left Foot Forward came up with the usual suspects (among others, economist and columnist Paul Krugman, columnist Polly Toynbee, journalist Will Hutton, author and academic Owen Jones, and Caroline Lucas, the leader of Britain’s Green Party) but also with some strange ones (Tony Blair? Barack Obama? Bernard Henri-Lévy?). On that latter group: it is true that one man’s leftwing is another’s rightwing. That said, an inevitable blind spot of Left Foot Forward’s list was that “left-wing thinker” is synonymous with “Anglo American,” and of course heavily British. So, it got me thinking: If we could ask our readers (and critics, and everyone else) to do the same thing, who would you pick?

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Photo courtesy Bill Moyers


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Eden Nthebolan Reviews O’Mandingo! The Only Black at a Dinner Party by Eric Miyeni

O'Mandingo!: The Only Black at a Dinner PartyVerdict: carrot

Published by Jacana Media in 2007, this is a wonderful collection of opinions gathered over a three year period on a website known to many. The term “O’Mandingo” means the ones that are called Mandingos. As one may already guess, this book is about black pride. Miyeni analyses racial relations in South Africa after apartheid and all over the world. The topics covered here encompass all the ones we encounter in our daily lives. Movies, work, and service at a restaurant…It is all very relatable and exhaustive.

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Don Makatile Reviews Kid Moses by Mark Thornton

Kid MosesVerdict: carrot

This is a simple story of two worlds; one, the underbelly of urban Dar-es-Salaam where Moses the child vagrant stakes his claim to eke out a living and the other, the wilderness of Tanzania where man remains an unwelcome intruder.

See Moses through the eyes of this one old man who contemplates him at the local market in Dar as the boy wolves down the food offered by the older man:

What does one do with such a child? A child soon to become a man with nothing but his shirt? And what a shirt it is, held together by strings.

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Joan Hambidge resenseer Vaarwel, my effens bevlekte held en Weerlig van die ongeloof

Vaarwel, my effens bevlekte heldWeerlig van die ongeloofUitspraak: wortels

Kort na die verskyning van Weerlig van die ongeloof, ‘n besondere knap bundel met kwatryne en vierreëlige verse, verskyn daar ‘n bundel Vaarwel, my effens bevlekte held met ‘n besondere mooi omslag van Christiaan Diedericks “Death of the inside warrior”, wat reeds die toonaard van hierdie bundel aandui, te wete die aflegging van die ouer self, die cruising digter en die soektog na heelheid. Weerlig van die ongeloof is ‘n oorgangsbundel om tot ‘n beter begrip te kom van Vaarwel, my effens bevlekte held, kortliks dan ook iets oor die sogenaamde kwatrynbundel wat tussen Algebra van nood en die jongste bundel staan. (Dit plaas ek ná my bespreking.) “Vaarwel” dui op aflegging, finaliteit en hierdie titel speel in op ‘n reël van Johan van Wyk. “Bevlekte” aktiveer die vele verse van self-bevlekking, sover terug as Snel grys fantoom wat die gesprek met Van Wyk Louw aktiveer.

I. Vaarwel, my effens bevlekte held (Human & Rousseau)

In hierdie bundel word die programgedig ars poëties gerig en die digter posisioneer homself teen die oorrompelende digproses as ‘n kontinent. In “Taal” (10) word die gedig verbind aan die Pegasus-beeld waar die digter stoei met die onbuigsame woord, maar uiteindelik ten spyte van die onbuigsaamheid daarvan, steeds in die saal bly.

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