Ken Barris has won various literary awards, including the M-Net Book Prize, the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the Thomas Pringle Award and the Vita Award. He has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in Africa, and twice for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Life Underwater is his fifth novel.
I’m spending time with several books at the moment. Firstly, The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, which I first read when I was 18. Despite the four decades that have passed, individual metaphors greet me like old friends – sophisticated and slightly pompous old friends.
I’m also reading The Summer Book, a novel for adults by Tove Jansson, better known for her Moomin series. It is sweet and magical, but with a sharp bite to it. I admire the deftness and understatement with which she builds her chapters. They’re crafted to fit together, but each one could be a perfect short story in its own right.
I’ve started Eloquent Body by Dawn Garisch, which explores the vital relationships between scientific and mythic understanding, and between illness and healing. I’ve only read the introduction so far, which is marked by beautiful writing and clear argument. And finally, I am reading The Last Light of the Sun, an elegant fantasy novel by Guy Gavriel Kay.