LitNet’s Bibi Slippers recently interviewed Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlistees Henrietta Rose-Innes, McIntosh Polela and Adam Schwartzman. Rose-Innes and Schwartzman are shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for Nineveh and Eddie Signwriter respectively and Polela is shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award for My Father, My Monster. The winners of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and Alan Paton Award will be announced at a ceremony in Johannesburg on 21 June.
Number 5 – “order out of chaos” – strikes a chord and echoes a theme of Nineveh. There’s certainly a bit of “showing the bastards”. Not so much the children’s shoes, although I do have extensive cat food expenses. Mostly, though, I wrote the book because it niggled at me before I began it, perplexed me while I was doing it, and aggravated me until it was done.
I came to realise that I had spent a lifetime running from myself, and that I had exhausted the space into which I could run. I felt that if I did not venture into the abyss and face my pain once and for all, I was forever going to be unsettled. I wrote my book so that I could find closure.
Versions of most of the above, I guess – except for the one about earning money for children’s shoes (no kids at the time, plus 10 years is a long time to work hard and still not have shoes) and the one about serving History (really!). In my own words, then: To give life to my experiences beyond myself. To catch something before it was gone – in myself and about the world. To exorcise the worst of my demons. To honour the people I’ve encountered on a long journey. To change myself.
- My Father, My Monster by McIntosh Polela
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