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Podcast: Writer’s Rage – Why Thando Mgqolozana and Zukiswa Wanner are Seriously Pissed Off

Open Book 2014: Writer's Rage
UnimportanceA Man Who is Not a ManHear Me AloneThe MadamsMen of the SouthLondon – Cape Town – Joburg

Zukiswa Wanner

In February Zukiswa Wanner wrote a blogpost titled “The Literature and Magazine/Newspaper Editor’s Rant” in which she said, among other things:

“In a country where the majority of the population is black y’all have suddenly decided that white writing is the standard? Really? There are either good or bad writers. There are no good or bad black female/male writers so stop that ‘good black’ crap, stop it.”

This blog prompted Mervyn Sloman to invite Wanner and Thando Mgqolozana, “who was one of the more vociferous contributors to the debate”, to participate in the 2014 Open Book Fesival to discuss the really important and relevant issues it brought up. In a session titled “Writer’s Rage”, Wanner and Mgqolozana addressed what’s really pissing them off:

  • When authors are referred to as “emerging” after being around for quite some time
  • When authors are expected to work for free, especially at festivals
  • The usage of the umbrella term “black” to refer to all authors who are not white while there is so much diversity in black voices
  • Being called good black writers – this is patronising and marginilasation of their work
  • Lack of recognition for efforts made
  • The expectation that their books should be “more African” – what does that even mean?
  • Being prescribed what to write about
  • Disguised racism in questions from journalists and readers, even if subconsciously
  • Not being respected as artists
  • People who refuse to read stories about other South Africa cultures
  • The thought that there is a single South African story and that there will be one “great South African novel” in the midst of so many different stories
* * * * * * * *

Listen to a podcast of the discussion:

Mervyn Sloman, Thando Mgqolozana and Zukiswa Wanner

Helené Prinsloo was there and tweeted live from the discussion:

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