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Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category

‘I have become a language warrior’ – Ngugi wa Thiong’o receives the 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize in South Korea (Exclusive Report)

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize
A Grain of WheatWeep Not, ChildPetals of BloodDecolonising the MindDevil on the CrossSecure the Base

 
Alert! Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recently visited South Korea where he received the prestigious Pak Kyongni Prize, an international literary award established in 2011.

With a cash prize of 100 million Korean Won (about US$90 000 or R1.2 million), the Pak Kyongni Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world.

The award ceremony took place on Saturday, 22 October, 2016 at the Toji Cultural Center in the picturesque city of Wonju in Gangwon Province. Books LIVE’s Annetjie van Wynegaard witnessed the historic event.

Read Wa Thiong’o's complete acceptance speech below and scroll down for tweets and photographs!

The legendary Kenyan author was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Njeeri, who radiated poise and elegance as the couple was welcomed with a Daegeum Sanjo (traditional bamboo flute) and dance performance by national cultural assets Woo Jang-Hyun, Jung Hwayeong and Jung Songhui.

KBS World and Arirang TV anchor Young Kim moderated the events of the evening, which included congratulatory speeches by Jung Chang Young, member of the Pak Kyongni Prize Committee, Choi Moon Soon, governor of Gangwon Province, and Won Chang Muk, mayor of Wonju.

Also in attendance were the late Pak Kyongni’s daughter and Chair of the Toji Cultural Foundation’s board of directors, Kim Young-joo, and her husband and celebrated poet Kim Chi Ha. The evening was well attended by delegates from the Kenyan Embassy in Seoul, expatriates and university students who came to support the author.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 

Who was Pak Kyongni?

LandMayor Won Chang Muk welcomed the audience to Wonju, the city where Pak Kyongni wrote her seminal work, Toji, or Land as it was translated into English, which consists of 20 volumes. Pak Kyongni was an influential writer whose work shaped the discourse of modern Korean literature. Her legacy, the Toji Cultural Foundation, offers a residency programme for writers and artists from all over the world. The Toji Cultural Center is situated just outside Wonju, surrounded by majestic mountains and breathtaking scenery.

Jung Chang Young offered some background to the late author in his speech:

“Pak Kyongni endured the chaotic cycle of Korean modern history, witnessing Japanese imperial rule, the Korean War, and the division of the Korean peninsula. Nevertheless, she continued to dedicate her infallible writing spirit to the observation of the human condition and to delve deeper into the pursuit of the meaning of life. Through her observations of Korea’s turbulent history and people striving to live in irrational circumstances, Pak Kyongni managed to transcend Korea’s reality by turning it into a striking literary topic.”

Turning his attention to the man of the evening, Jung Chang Young said: “Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a writer and intellectual who takes action and received a lot of love and respect from people around the world. He is a doctor of the mind and the soul of the community, and paints a picture of the human’s willingness to move on to a better world through his writing. He experienced colonialism, the Mau Mau Uprising, the chaos and conflict of founding a newly independent country, and exile, all of which have melted into his works.

“We have read his books such as Weep Not, Child, A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood, which reminds us of our past and present, and helps us to think about matters of freedom and oppression, resistance and surrender, and hope and despair,” he said.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 
How Wa Thiong’o was selected as winner

Kim Uchang, Chair of the selection committee, could not attend the ceremony but his speech was made available to the audience. Wa Thiong’o was selected from a preliminary compilation of 90 authors from over 20 different countries. “The selection committee, while bearing in mind literary standard as the most important of all criteria, tried to keep the field of vision as wide as possible, in order to include writers of diverse nationalities, ages and genders,” Kim writes. The final selection included Wa Thiong’o, Isabel Allende, AS Byatt, Ha Jin, Louise Erdrich and Leslie Marmon Silko.

Kim Uchang explains that “the multicultural and multi-civilisational themes” explored by these writers encourage the reader to “rethink … the place of the West in the historical evolution of humankind as a whole”. He adds: “While modern western civilisation has become a dominant player, the writers who cross its borders, ask their readers to review its significance, including what has been excluded and missed out by its dominance.”

Kim Uchang says: “A writer whose work distinctively exhibits the broadest and complicated boundary-crossing is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. The main part of his stories is often set in a world that involves various evils of imperialism and colonialism as well as struggles for independence and their complex consequences … his work reflects a world in which many different borders, boundaries and conditions overlap, and confront each other, manifesting the process of globalisation which humankind faces today.”

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 
Wa Thiong’o is the sixth recipient of the Pak Kyongni Prize – the first international literary award in Korea – since its inauguration in 2011. Previous winners were Choi In-Hoon (2011), Ludmila Ulitskaya (2012), Marilynne Robinson (2013), Bernard Schlink (2014) and Amos Oz (2015).

In his acceptance speech, the author drew parallels between the Kenya in his novels and the Korea in Pak Kyongni’s work. He also told the tale of how he first heard the news of winning the Pak Kyongni Prize from Njeeri, who asked him: “Who is Pak Kyongni?”

Read Wa Thiong’o's acceptance speech:

Language and Culture Contact as Oxygen of Civilisation

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni PrizeCry of the people and other poemsI am Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, USA but I am here as a writer not academic. Creative writing is a lonely business. One communed with oneself for hours, days, months and even years, wrestling with doubts with no help from their most intimate friends. It is more akin to the experience of prophets and seers of old who had to retreat to the wilderness for long periods wrestling with daemons of temptation, including calls to give up their quest. Only that for the writer, instead of retreating into the mountains, they descend into their consciousness and dive deep into their subconscious to give shape and form to chaos. And even then they can never be sure of how their work will be received by the reader, for in the end, it’s the reader who completes the creative process.

One does not write for awards other than the reward of recognition by the reader. So to get an award, any award, especially one for which the writer has not applied, is very satisfying. I am very grateful that the Toji Foundation have found my work worth the 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize, which also makes me join the company of the five other luminaries who have received the prize before me. It makes it all the more satisfying to receive it in the company of my wife, Njeeri, my first reader and critic, who endures all the early rough drafts of my work. She was also the first to hear the news and she asked me: “Who is Pak Kyongni?” Well, I confess that I did not know.

So I went to the internet to find out more about the writer and her work. Certain parallels between the Korea of her novel, Toji, Land, and the Kenya of my own works struck me. The Japanese colonial occupation of Korea, 1910 to 1945, and the Korean people’s resistance to it reminded me of the British colonial occupation of my country and Kenyan people’s resistance to it. Even the Japanese suppression of the Korean language has parallels in the British suppression of Kenyan African languages. I was about 12 years old when I first heard of the Korean War 1950-1953; those were also the years the Kenyan people’s war against the British colonial settler started.

Hardly had I begun to wonder about those parallels of history when I read that Pak Kyongni was the mother-in-law of another Korean writer, Kim Chi Ha. The prize ceased just being another prize, special though it is, it became personal.

It was in 1976 on the occasion of the Emergency International Conference in Tokyo to which I had been invited by the late Japanese novelist Oda Makoto, when, in a tiny bookshop attached to my hotel, I picked up a volume of poetry, Cry of the People by Kim Chi Ha. It was the only English text in there, and I bought the last copy. I believe that Kim Chi Ha was in prison at the time for his writings. I became fascinated by his work including the famous poem “The five bandits” that I came across later in the conference. I returned to Kenya and introduced Cry of the People to the literature syllabus at the University of Nairobi where I was then professor and chair of the department of literature. It became very popular, especially the poem “Groundless rumors”. The peasant character An-Do became a folk hero among the students. But a year after that, in December 1977, I found myself also in a maximum security prison in Kenya for my writings.

Alone in prison without trial, I decided to start a novel in Gĩgĩkũyũ. Before this, I had written all my previous novels in English. The novel, Caitaani Mũtharabaini, written on toilet paper, the only writing material I could access, was later translated into English as Devil on the Cross. The novel was very much influenced by Kim Chi Ha’s famous poem “The five bandits”. Writing that novel in prison made me endure my one-year incarceration, my high spirits. So the spirit of Kim Chi Ha became my companion in prison. The novel was later published in 1982, and it became the first modern novel in Gĩgĩkũyũ language. Since then I have written all my novels, drama and poetry in the language. I have also become a language warrior for African languages and marginalised languages in the world. The thoughts that later went into my theoretical text, Decolonising the Mind, had origins in that period of my life when Kim Chi Ha’s work acted as my inspiration.

I hope you can now appreciate why this award is so special and personal. It brings back memories. It takes me back 40 years ago, the beginning of a literary and intellectual journey that has taken me all over the world, an unrepentant advocate of African languages and all marginalised languages in the world. If this award reminds the world that I now write my creative work in Gĩgĩkũyũ and that African languages do exist and that, like all other languages in the world, have a right to a literary and intellectual production, that, indeed, they have much to contribute to world culture, then I am more than grateful for the award.

Monolingualism suffocates the growth of the human spirit. Language and culture contact on the basis of equality, is indeed the oxygen of civilisation. It is in that spirit that I gratefully accept the 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize.

The formalities gave way to a dazzling dinner in the cool autumn evening, where Wa Thiong’o broke bread with Kim Chi Ha and Kim Young-joo, who later presented him with a gift of calligraphy. This star-struck writer nervously made her way through the crowd to meet the author. We took a photograph together and spoke a little, and he instructed me to read his short story “The Upright Revolution”. The evening concluded with dancing under the stars.

Look at the photographs from the event:

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 

 
Annetjie van Wynegaard (@annetjievw) live tweeted the occasion:

 

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Mongane Wally Serote, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Penny Siopis and Albie Sachs honoured at 2016 ACT Awards

RumoursScatter the Ashes and GoRevelationsQuite Footsteps
Stukke teaterPanoramaPenny SiopisThe Soft Vengeance of a Freedom FighterMakebaMy Son's StoryMissing

 
Alert! The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) recently announced the winners of the 2016 Awards.

The Lifetime Achievement awards went to Dr Mongane Wally Serote for Literature, Pieter-Dirk Uys for Theatre, Johnny Clegg for Music, Penny Siopis for Visual Art, Albie Sachs for Arts Advocacy and Johaar Mosaval for Dance.

ACT CEO Pieter Jacobs said: “Our list of South African icons would not be complete without entering the names of these remarkable individuals alongside the likes of Miriam Makeba, Nadine Gordimer and Dr John Kani, to mention a few.”

“Their exemplary careers have enriched the arts and culture industry significantly, leaving a legacy that inspires young artists, such as the ImpACT Award recipients, to strive to reach a high level of excellence in their chosen fields,” Jacobs continued.

ACT also celebrates the winners of the ImpACT Awards for young professionals; young artists or businesses that have reached a notable level in their career.

Read the Press release for more information on these prestigious awards and their notable recipients:
 

* * * * *

 
ACT announces 2016 Award winners

A Sophiatown theme and exceptional entertainment set the tone at Sun International’s The Maslow Hotel last night, when ACT named their Award winners.

At the core of the Awards, is the announcement of Lifetime Achievement recipients who have each had a lifelong commitment to the arts, and this year, six deserving luminaries were recognised.

The recipients are nominated by the ACT Board of Trustees and selected by current and previous ACT Trustees. Categories include: Theatre, Music, Visual Art, Literature, Arts Advocacy and Dance.

This year, ACT honoured Pieter-Dirk Uys for Theatre, Johnny Clegg for Music, Penny Siopis for Visual Art, Dr Mongane Wally Serote for Literature, Albie Sachs for Arts Advocacy and Johaar Mosaval for Dance.

“Our list of South African icons would not be complete without entering the names of these remarkable individuals alongside the likes of Miriam Makeba, Nadine Gordimer and Dr John Kani, to mention a few,” ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs, said. “Their exemplary careers have enriched the arts and culture industry significantly, leaving a legacy that inspires young artists, such as the ImpACT Award recipients, to strive to reach a high level of excellence in their chosen fields.”

The ImpACT Awards for young professionals are given annually to honour young artists or businesses that have reached a notable level in their career. Giving the masses a voice through the public nomination process, ACT proudly boasts a first-rate selection of these individuals in the categories of Theatre, Visual Art, Music, Dance and Design.

Visual artist, Chepape Makgato; singer, Thandi Ntuli; actor Mkhululi Z Mabija; designer, Jody Paulsen; and dancer, Sunnyboy Motau were named the 2016 ImpACT Award winners. Each boasting a burgeoning creative career, this year’s winners collectively represent determination, dedication and ineffable talent.

The 2016 Awards saw ACT partner with the Distell Foundation, The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and Sun International to see this group of young professionals being lauded for the remarkable impression they have made in the first five years of their careers. Each winner will receive R10 000 and additional PR opportunities that will be generated through the ACT Awards. ImpACT Award recipients will also get on-going backing from ACT in the form promotional support in their professional careers.

The 19th annual ACT Awards was hosted by Sun International in association with the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), and supported by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA). The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) sponsors the Lifetime Award for Music, the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) for Theatre, Media24 Books for Literature, the Nedbank Arts Affinity for Visual Art, JTI for Dance and Creative Feel for Arts Advocacy, which will see recipients each receiving R45 000.

For more information about the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) please visit www.act.org.za and use the hashtag #ACTAwards across all social media channels.

2016 ImpACT Awards Finalists

Chepape Makgato

Khehla Chepape Makgato was born in Johannesburg and raised in Makotopong village, outside Polokwane in Limpopo. Makgato has the diploma equivalence for Fine Arts majoring in Printmaking from Artist Proof Studio and a Diploma in Media Practice majoring in Journalism through Boston Media House. Makgato was one of two South African delegates and one of three SADC regional youth delegates to the 2012 Africa Utopia Youth Arts, Cultural and Olympia Festivals of the World at the Southbank Centre in London, UK. He has participated in numerous art exhibitions and fairs both locally and internationally. Makgato collaborated with William Kentridge on a project in January 2015 and continues to work on some small projects for Kentridge. He has had solo shows in 2013 (MARIKANA; Truth, Probability & Paradox), 2014 (VOICES FROM THE KOPPIE ñ Towards Speculative Realism), 2015 (MARIKANA; The Rituals) and 2016 (Manuscripts Found From The Koppie) to be exhibited in Cape Town. In 2014 he won a studio art bursary from the African Arts Trust to be a resident artist at Assemblage Studios. He is also an inaugural recipient of 2016 Art Across Oceans Residency at Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago, USA in partnership with Play Africa. Makgato now works full-time as an artist at Assemblage Studios and freelance arts writer for ArtAfrica, The Journalist, Ampers and various online publications.

Thandi Ntuli

Ntuli was born in 1987 in one of South Africa’s largest townships, Soshanguve (Pretoria). She comes from a lineage of rich musical heritage, being the niece of guitarist, pianist and lead vocalist of 70′s pop fusion band Harari (The Beaters), Selby Ntuli. At the age of four, she started taking classical piano lessons under the tutelage of Ada Levkowitz. However, her keen interest for jazz was only kindled later in life, leading her to enrol and complete a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at The University of Cape Town. Since the release of her debut jazz album, The Offering, which she released independently, Ntuli is fast making an imprint in the local jazz scene with her unique voice. The Offering has received critical acclaim as well as numerous awards and recognition since its release in 2014, including a Metro FM Award nomination for Best Urban Jazz in 2015.

Mkhululi Z Mabija

Mabija graduated from Tshwane University of Technology with a BA in Musical Theatre Performance (2006) and from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing (2010). At the age of 24, he became the youngest adjunct professor at New York University teaching a subject called South African Culture through History, Art and Media. Mkhululi has written many operas and musicals with various composers. Mkhululi has adapted Athol Fugard’s novel, Tsotsi for the musical theatre stage with composer and singer, Zwai Bala. Tsotsi will premiere in November 2017.

Jody Paulsen

Jody Paulsen was born in 1987 in Cape Town, where he continues to live and work. He specialised in Print Media at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Arts. On graduating, in 2009, Paulsen was awarded the Kathrine Harris Print Cabinet Award. In 2012, Paulsen won the Jules Kramer Departmental Scholarship Award and went on to complete his Masters Degree, also at UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, with his solo exhibition What You Want, Whenever You Want It in 2013. Notable group exhibitions include: 2015′s Young, Gifted and Black, curated by Hank Willis Thomas, in Cape Town; Making Africa at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (2015); Poppositions at Canal Warf in Brussels, Belgium (2015); MiArt 2014 in Milan, Italy and START Art Fair 2014 in London, United Kingdom. Paulsen has also collaborated with fashion designer Adriaan Kuiters, as Creative Director of Adriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen (AKJP) to present multiple collections at Mercedes-Benz Cape Town Fashion Week (2013-2016), and notably, at New York Fashion Week in 2015. AKJP has most recently, in 2016, participated in the Generation Africa fashion show at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy.

Sunnyboy Motau

Named among Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans, a 2015 Naledi Theatre Award nominee, and an acclaimed choreographer and dancer, the dynamic powerhouse of Sunnyboy Motau is set on a road called success. Beginning in community arts groups in Alexandra, he trained at Moving into Dance where he continues to work. His collaborative commission by the Dance Umbrella 2015 was among the top three of the National Arts Festival. His co-choreography with Jessica Nupen toured Germany 2015, opened the Dance Umbrella in 2016 and tours Italy in September. Currently, Motau is choreographing for the Playhouse Company in Durban after a successful production for The Market Theatre in February and the HIFA Pop-Up Festival in Harare in May.

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Open letter to Adam Habib: Ishtiyaq Shukri calls on Wits to terminate its contract with ‘unaccountable’ private security firms

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The Silent MinaretI See You

 
Ishtiyaq Shukri has written an open letter to Wits University Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib and the members of the Senior Executive Team.

Shukri is the author of the EU Literary Award-winning The Silent Minaret, and his most recent novel, I See You, has as a central concern the implications of the rise of the private security industry.

The book features a scene set in the Wits Great Hall in which the main character makes an impassioned speech about freedom and private force that, read now, seems prescient.

 
In his letter, which was prompted by the shooting of Father Graham Pugin just off campus, Shukri calls on university management to “demonstrate conciliatory leadership”, to “consider the lives of the students entrusted to your care” and to “terminate its contract with these unaccountable private security firms”.

Read the letter in full:

Dear Professor Adam Habib and Members of the Senior Executive Team of the University of the Witwatersrand

I have in recent months been increasingly alarmed by the growing levels of militarised violence deployed against students from the #FeesMustFall movement at the University of the Witwatersrand by private security firms paid for by the University. I despair at the failure of imagination demonstrated on the part of the University in its inability to find and employ amicable forms of management and conflict resolution, and its readiness to resort to the old South African recipe of force to settle disputes instead. I am deeply concerned by the model the University has presented to the country: that in South Africa violence and force are commodities for sale to be purchased, at undisclosed amounts, even by a university. Purchased by senior executives – not of a corporation, but of a university – executives against whom such force is unlikely ever to be deployed. Private force, purchased by a wealthy institution to be aimed at its poorest students. And I am especially disturbed by the recent shooting of Father Graham Pugin of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church next to the University. While I have wrestled with writing to you before, following his shooting I can no longer remain silent now.

I’ll just state it plainly. South Africa is under occupation by private military and security firms now in possession of a combined arsenal of privatised force which already outnumbers that of the state by five to one. And while they have the capacity to deploy levels of violence and force that surpass those of the state, they are not accountable to its citizens or to the state. In a democracy such as ours, state forces are rightly accountable to the citizens, and in the case of the shooting of Fr Graham, the Deputy National Police Commissioner Gary Kruser has apologised unconditionally and set up an official investigation to be headed by the Gauteng provincial commissioner. Commissioner Kruser is not doing us a favour. In a democracy, he is holding himself accountable, just as he should. By contrast, unregulated private military and security firms are only accountable to their shareholders, shareholders for whom the use of force translates into the escalation of profit; profit to which you have contributed untold amounts. The threats posed by private military and security firms have been a long-standing concern of mine and are a central to my novel from 2014, I See You. One of the novel’s main characters, Leila Mashal, outlines the threats in a key scene. I mention this to you only because that scene takes place in the Great Hall at Wits.

Having imagined the threat of privatised force in my fiction, I have found it very difficult to watch the violence unfold at Wits in reality, of which the shooting of Fr Graham is a startling escalation. Is nothing sacred anymore? When I set that fictional scene at Wits, the last place I imagined would one day become the setting for the greatest public manifestation to date of the occupation of South Africa by privatised forces was a university, was indeed Wits University itself. This vexes me, because it is not easy to see the boundaries between fiction and reality implode at Wits, and because to me their collapse signals that the occupation has penetrated even our most respected centres of higher learning. You have stated that you have on a previous occasion reviewed footage of claims by students regarding brutality and abuse by private security agencies at Wits. You claimed to have found nothing to support those allegations. Maybe. But today I ask you to review the footage of images of brutalised priests and students now emanating from Wits. Are they evidence enough? Do you see what we see? What the rest of the world can see – even the Pope in Rome? Whatever these private security forces may have protected, it wasn’t the reputation of the University and it certainly wasn’t Fr Graham.

In January 2016, concerned Wits faculty and staff wrote to you requesting the University to terminate its contract with these private security firms. Writing on behalf of the Senior Executive Team, you rejected their request.

Following the shooting of Fr Graham, I call on the Senior Executive Team of the University of the Witwatersrand to demonstrate conciliatory leadership. I call on you to consider the lives of the students entrusted to your care, if not on a contractual basis, then at the very least on an ethical one. I call on you to reconsider your decision, and for the University to terminate its contract with these unaccountable private security firms. In the face of their insidious occupation, which is now at least no longer invisible, is it not also the responsibility of a university of good repute to be discerning about the threats they pose, to demonstrate dissent by also shedding light on how they undermine our democratic procedures, and to take the lead in standing up to defend those procedures rather than participate in their erosion through silent financial transactions with secret unaccountable forces? And if these are not also the responsibilities of a university, then to whom do we entrust them when we are under occupation?

Sincerely
Ishtiyaq Shukri

11 October 2016

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Students continue protest action at Stellenbosch and UCT

Protest NationAfrica UprisingFrom Protest to Challenge Volume 1

 
A group of protesters are attempting to disrupt operations on the University of Cape Town campus‚ while at Stellenbosch University students occupying the library have been given notice to vacate the area or face sanction.

The UCT libraries‚ including the 24/7 study area‚ were also closed until further notice midday on Friday.

On the UCT campus‚ protesters are demanding a halt to disciplinary action against students implicated in violent protest. At Stellenbosch‚ a group of students have been staging a sit-in at the institution’s JS Gericke Library to demand free tuition.

Tweeting about the UCT protest‚ @KhumbulaniJali commented: “Who thinks they can come to lectures? You don’t take us serious #FeesMustFall #BringBackOurCadres”.

“Occupation of SRC office now! #UCTshutdown #BringBackOurCadres‚” Lindsay Maasdorp said.

At Stellenbosch‚ @FeesMustFallWC posted a copy of a letter they had been served to vacate the library and claimed‚ “We are under attack‚ forcefully removed here at SU. They almost crushed a person closing a door #SFMFDefiance”.

They also allege that pepper spray had been used against them:

Source: TMG Digital

 
Related stories:

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‘People asked me: Are you insane?’ – Read Rape author Pumla Dineo Gqola’s Alan Paton Award acceptance speech

2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards
Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole with Bongani Siqoko
Alan Paton AwardRape

 
Pumla Dineo Gqola won the 2016 Alan Paton Award for Non-fiction on Saturday, for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare.

The judges called it “a timely, fearless and frightening book and an urgent attempt to deal with the unspoken in our society”.

The winners were announced at a black tie event in Sandton. Apart from receiving the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards accolade, each author is also awarded prize money of R100,000.

 

Read Gqola’s acceptance speech:

When I told people I was writing this book many of them said, ‘Who on earth wants to read a book about rape, are you insane?’

Thank you to my ‘insane’ publisher, Melinda Ferguson, who didn’t bat an eyelid when I ambushed her – at what was supposed to be a lunch to discuss a much happier book – with the news that in fact I wanted to write a book about rape.

Thank you to my family and my wonderful sister, who is in tears after almost giving herself an ulcer as we waited tonight. Thank you to the judges, I am honoured to receive this and I’m honoured to have been on a shortlist with these fantastic co-shortlistees. David Attwell, who I’ve admired for a long time, Maxine Case, who is remarkable, and Khaya Dlanga, who is surprising and incredible – I can’t wait to read your next book.

Before the music, and on a much more serious note, I’m also pleased to be living in a country where I can write this book, and at a time when I am hopeful, because we are starting to see a shift in how we are talking about rape and gender violence in this country. If my book can contribute and has contributed a little bit to that conversation, and continues to, thank you.

Nkosinathi Sithole won the 2016 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, for his debut novel Hunger Eats a Man.

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Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole win the 2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards

Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole win the 2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards
Alan PatonBarry Ronge
RapeHunger Eats a Man

 
Alert! Pumla Dineo Gqola and Nkosinathi Sithole have been announced as the winners of the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards.

The winners were announced at a black tie event in Sandton. Apart from receiving the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards accolade, each author is also awarded prize money of R100,000.

Debut novelist Nkosinathi Sithole was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his book Hunger Eats a Man, published by Penguin Books.

Pumla Dineo Gqola received the Alan Paton Award for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare, published by MF Books.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela was the guest speaker at the event.

 
The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize was judged this year by Rustum Kozain (chair), Angela Makholwa-Moabelo and Stephen Johnson.

 
Of Hunger Eats a Man, Kozain says, “This is something entirely new in South African literature, in terms of its language and style. The writing is exceptional in the way it bends English to its own purpose. It’s a beautiful, disturbing, highly original novel with touches of unexpected humour.”

The story is set in KwaZulu-Natal and highlights the plight of rural South Africans. Sithole has a PhD in English Studies and teaches at the University of Zululand.

The Alan Paton Award judging panel was chaired by Achmat Dangor, supported by judges Tinyiko Maluleke and Pippa Green.

 
In Rape: A South African Nightmare, Gqola investigates the history and causes of the epidemic of sexual violence in the country. “This is a fearless book that speaks a powerful truth of our times. Nuanced and cogently argued, it tackles the subject from every possible aspect in an attempt to deal with the unspoken,” Dangor says.

Gqola is a professor of African Literature at Wits University.

Sunday Times books editor Jennifer Platt says: “The Sunday Times Literary Awards have always acted as a sort barometer of the nation’s preoccupations, highlighting books that pick up and explore our concerns.

“There is an urgency reflected in the themes of the winning books this year: of poverty, hunger and the vapid promises of politicians and religion in one, and in the other the overt threat of toxic masculinity that pervades South Africa.”

Last year’s winners were Jacob Dlamini and Damon Galgut.
 
More about the books:

Hunger Eats a Man by Nkosinathi Sithole

Rape: A South African Nightmare

 

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2016 Open Book Festival: Confirmed international and local authors announced

2016 Open Book Festival: Confirmed international and local authors announced

 

Alert! The Open Book Festival has announced the first group of confirmed international and local authors for this year’s event.

The sixth annual Open Book will take place from 7 to 11 September in Cape Town.

This year’s festival will comprise more than 100 events, at The Fugard Theatre, the District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge.

The final programme will be available in early August, and tickets will be available on Webtickets.

“We are thrilled to be announcing the first group of authors for Open Book Festival 2016,” festival director Mervyn Sloman says. “We have confirmed participants joining us from Botswana, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ghana, Holland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Reunion, United Kingdom and USA.

“As always we look forward to an outstanding collection of powerful South African writers talking about their work on the international stage that Open Book provides.

“I can’t wait to see the impact the likes of Pumla Dineo Gqola, Fred Khumalo, Bongani Madondo, Mohale Mashigo and Yewande Omotoso are going to have on Cape Town audiences. These writers are the tip of a very exciting iceberg that gives us cause for celebration in the SA book world that has many real and difficult challenges.”

RapeBitches' BrewSigh The Beloved CountryThe YearningThe Woman Next Door

 

Check out the confirmed international authors:

null
Adeiye “MC Complex” Tjon Tam Pau is a coach and workshop master for Poetry Circle Nowhere – a collective of writing performers in the Netherlands – and is active in the Dutch and international hip-hop scene.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullReacher Said Nothing
Andy Martin is a lecturer in French literature and philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Most recently he published Reacher Said Nothing, a book about Lee Child writing his 21st Reacher novel, Make Me
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe Bear's Surprise
Benjamin Chaud was born in Briançon in the Hautes-Alpes and he studied drawing and applied arts at the Arts Appliqués in Paris and the Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg. His award-winning books have been translated into over 20 languages.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe Fishermen
Chigozie Obioma was born in Nigeria and is currently the professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut novel, The Fishermen, was an international hit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullWhat Belongs to You
Garth Greenwell‘s novella Mitko won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award. What Belongs to You is his debut novel.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullDaydreams of Angels
Heather O’Neill is a Canadian novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter and essayist. Lullabies for Little Criminals, her debut novel, was published in 2006 to international critical acclaim. She has since published the novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and the short story collection Daydreams of Angels.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullDracula
Hippolyte resides in Reunion but was born and raised in the Alps, where he got his interest in comics by reading old American comic books. He gained success with his adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in two volumes by Vents d’Ouest in 2003 and 2004.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

nullThree Words
Indira Neville is a New Zealand comics artist, community organiser, editor and commentator. She has been making comics for over 20 years. Recently, she co-edited the anthology Three Words, a collection of Aotearoa/New Zealand women’s comics.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe World According to Anna
Jostein Gaarder is the author of several novels, short stories and children’s books, including Sophie’s World, which was translated into 60 languages and has sold over 40 million copies. His most recent novel translated into English is The World According to Anna.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

nullThe Prophets of Eternal Fjord
Kim Leine is a Danish-Norwegian novelist. He received the Golden Laurel award and the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for his novel, The Prophets of Eternal Fjord.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe Scattering
Lauri Kubuitsile lives in Botswana. She has written children’s books, short stories, novellas and several romance novels. The Scattering, her most recent novel, was published this year.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe Gonjon Pin and Other Stories
Martin Egblewogbe is a short story writer, lecturer in Physics at the University of Ghana and the co-founder of the Writers Project of Ghana. His short story “The Gonjon Pin” is the title story in the 2014 Caine Prize collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullBorderline
Journalist Michela Wrong has spent nearly two decades writing about Africa. In 2014 she was appointed literary director of the Miles Morland Foundation and is a trustee of Human Rights Watch Africa, the Africa Research Institute and the NGO Justice Africa. She is the author of a number of non-fiction books. Borderlines is her first novel.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullNemesis
Misha Glenny is a distinguished investigative journalist and one of the world’s leading experts on cybercrime and on global mafia networks. He is the author of several books, most recently Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullWhen the Moon is Low
Nadia Hashimi‘s parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. She was raised in the United States and in 2002 made her first trip to Afghanistan. Her debut novel, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, was an international bestseller. When The Moon Is Low followed in 2015 and her latest novel is due in 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullBinti
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Her novella, Binti, recently won a prestigious Nebula Award.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe Winter War
Philip Teir is considered one of the most promising writers in Finland. His poetry and short stories have been included in anthologies, including Granta Finland. The Winter War is his first novel.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullCarnival
Rawi Hage was born in Beirut and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war during the 1970s and 1980s. He emigrated to Canada in 1992 and now lives in Montreal. His first novel, De Niro’s Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His most recent novel, Carnival, won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullStalin's Daughter
Rosemary Sullivan is the author of 14 books, including biographies, children’s books and poetry. She is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. In 2012, she was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in Ontario and was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian award) for outstanding contributions to Canadian Literature and Culture.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullYour Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Sunil Yapa is the son of a Sri Lankan father and an American mother. He received his MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2010, was awarded the Alumni Scholarship & Welfare Fund Fellowship, and was twice selected as a Hertog Fellow. He is the recipient of the 2010 Asian American Short Story Award. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is his first novel.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Alan Paton Award shortlist: Interview with Pumla Dineo Gqola on her book Rape: A South African Nightmare

Published in the Sunday Times

Alan Paton Award shortlist: Interview with Pumla Dineo Gqola on her book Rape: A South African Nightmare

 
RapeRape: A South African Nightmare
Pumla Dineo Gqola (MF Books Joburg)

Why this book, and why now?

I wrote the book because rape is endemic in this country and elsewhere, and yet we seem no closer to reversing the tide. This is largely because we have a collective public discourse that is repetitive; so we express the same frustrations, sense of hopelessness and mystification about its causes. The book is an attempt to contribute on how to shift our sense of hopelessness as a country to thinking through how certain patterns of behaviour enable rape culture and a rape crisis.

Has rape always been a problem in South Africa or has the incidence of it increased in recent years?

Rape is not new in South Africa or elsewhere. In South Africa, we have a clearer sense of its high occurrence, but this does not mean that the occurrence of rape is significantly lower in places where survivors report less.

Can you explain the notion of “the female fear factory”?

I coined [the phrase] to explain how women’s fear is manufactured, created, in societies such as ours, with high levels of violence. In the chapter in which I explain it, I show how it is premised on devaluing women, and making us more controllable, and less likely that we’ll stand up for ourselves. I also show what conditions and processes make it a “factory”. The product is fear in women and girls, but also in all vulnerable people, like gender non-conforming people.

What is the source of the “toxic masculinity” prevalent in the country today?

The source of toxic masculinity in South Africa and globally is patriarchal power.

Is our culture complicit in enabling sexual violence?

Yes, it is. It creates the conditions that enable the manufacture of female fear.

Who should read this book?

Everybody who is interested in ending rape culture; everyone who wants to know what individually and collectively we can do to change and to interrupt the female fear factory.

In what way do you think your book “illuminates truthfulness”?

It confronts many of the lies and excuses we keep repeating that help a rape culture to flourish. It forces us to recognise that we can all do better.

Do you believe we can create a future free of rape and violence?

Yes. Sets of behaviour make rape possible and pervasive. Behaviour and consequences for raping can be changed. I believe all oppressive violence can end. History shows we don’t live like we used to in medieval times with the kinds of violence that were normal then, or even 300 years ago. So, yes, I believe a future without rape is possible. But it has to be created.

 
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A brief, ephemeral encounter between two people long ago: The meeting of Qing and Joseph Orpen

By Stephen Coan

On the Trail of Qing and OrpenBeneath the blank-windowed office block cliffs of downtown Johannesburg an unusual exhibition offers a rare opportunity to consider the echoes of a series of conversations held between two men in the remote high Maloti-Drakensberg nearly 150 years ago.

In 1873 Joseph Orpen, a colonial administrator, was commissioned to track down the Hlubi chief Langalibalele kaMthimkhulu who had fled into Basutoland to escape the Natal authorities. Orpen recruited local scouts, among them a man named Qing, a Bushman who lived in the Maloti mountains. Orpen was impressed by Qing and interviewed him about his people’s stories and rituals. The two also discussed the rock art they encountered at several sites.

William Howard Schröeder's portrait of Joseph Millerd Orpen, 1872Orpen later published an account of these interviews in the Cape Monthly Magazine and this article has since come to be regarded as “one of the most thrilling documents in the archive of Bushman ethnography,” according to Jeremy Hollmann, a specialist in southern African hunter-gatherer rock art.

“The meeting between Qing and Orpen in the Maloti-Drakensberg in what is now Lesotho, is widely agreed to be a unique moment,” exhibition curator Justine Wintjes says, “and the only recorded instance in which the meanings of certain rock art scenes were discussed between an outsider, Orpen, and Qing, a man whose community may have still been making rock art.”

The meeting of Qing and Orpen, which occurred during a key episode of colonial oppression in the late nineteenth century, and its outcome forms the subject of the exhibition On the trail of Qing and Orpen: from the colonial era to the present, currently showing at the Standard Bank Art Gallery.

Qing
Although there are no pictures of Qing, this figure on horseback painted on the wall of Melikane Shelter stands in for Qing in both book and exhibition. It may have been painted during Qing’s lifetime. Source: Jeremy Hollman.

 
The exhibition coincides with the publication of On the trail of Qing and Orpen, authored by a multidisciplinary team of scholars: José Manuel de Prada-Samper, Menán du Plessis, Jeremy Hollmann, Jill Weintroub, Justine Wintjes and John Wright, who are also the contributors to the exhibition which was curated by Wintjes, assisted by Wright and Weintroub.

“Six people worked on six different issues,” Wintjes says. “Our approach has been even-handed. Qing and Orpen have equal status.”

Despite such statements the exhibition and the book are not without an element of controversy – notably in the use of the term “bushman”. Some “San” groups use the term “San” as a self-designation while others reject the term and prefer “Bushmen”. Some descendants of Bushmen accept the generic label “Khoisan” which Khoisan activists are fostering; others say this marginalises them.

As is pointed out in the book and in the brief texts accompanying the exhibits, the word “San” was adopted by academics in the 1960s to describe southern Africa’s hunter-gatherer peoples, an all-embracing term incorporating both the present and, crucially, the past. It was seen as a suitable replacement for “bushman” which had come to have a pejorative meaning, denoting not only difference but inferiority. But, as it turns out, “San” is also a contested word, and in certain contexts probably just as disparaging.

Quite apart from scholarly usage, “San” has come to be used as an expression of identity among certain groups seeking their rights as southern Africa’s “first nation”. “In this sense the word ‘San’ equates and strengthens a sense of ethnicity,” Weintroub says. “It symbolises a way of fighting for resources, but to project it back into the past is an anachronism.”

Accordingly, since the 1980s some scholars have gradually returned to using the word “bushman” though rock art specialists still use the term “San”.

“It’s not just the word that is contested, but the whole idea of making it a category of people,” says Wright, a historian who has been working on the history of the bushmen of the Maloti-Drakensberg since 1965. “It is used as a blanket description for a whole range of peoples with different languages. San is a 20th century term; to use it now is an anachronism. Just as it makes no sense to talk of Zulus 500 years ago; Zulu was a term that only began to be widely used after the emergence of the Zulu kingdom in the 1820s.”

Wintjes says the term is used in the exhibition and the book to denote a specific identity. “We simply didn’t have a better term in this context than ‘bushman’. There is no replacement for that word – but we have worked towards using it in more nuanced ways. We also use this term for its continuity with eighteenth and nineteenth-century sources, and to connect back to a time of searching for categories. We use it in a non-ethnic, non-tribal sense.”

Wright agrees: “San is a modern ethnic term – echoing an imagined tribal past. It’s part of the whole tribal paradigm that South Africa is currently caught up in, which in itself is highly problematic.”

Over the years Bushmen have also accrued a layer of romanticism, seen by some as living fossils from some Edenic golden age when human beings lived in harmony with their natural environment. Wright is having none of that: “The whole notion of ‘ancientism’ is rubbish, they are as much a part of modern history as we are.”

Some conversations are always going to be difficult, especially when different levels of discourse – popular, activist, and academic – intersect but are talking at cross-purposes. Qing and Orpen relied on interpreters and Orpen’s article arose out of that problematic process. Now comes the book and the exhibition.

“Both are primarily on the backstory, production, and afterlife of a particular text – Orpen’s crucial article on the stories that Qing told him,” Wright says. “We are trying to open up historical questions.”

And both go further than previously in looking at the text, Weintroub says. “The published text is taken as authoritative. But there are differences between the published text and Orpen’s original manuscript.”

These discrepancies have been scrutinised by folklorist De Prada-Samper. His findings, drawn from both the manuscript and the published text, feature in what is the largest section of the book and present much new information. Of particular note are his interpretations regarding beliefs surrounding snakes, the nature of the rain-creature, and another dimension that relates to a complex of beliefs “very widespread in southern Africa and beyond, about an underwater world that very often, though not always, is connected with the world of the spirits of the dead”.

“José’s work is the central element of the book,” Wright says. “José’s rethinking will attract attention.”

According to Wintjes the book and exhibition serve to fill a gap in scholarship, as few of the studies on Orpen’s article place it within a wider historical context.

The book came first. “It existed as a project five years ago,” Wintjes says. “When Barbara Freemantle, curator of the Standard Bank Art Gallery, heard about it she said it would make for a great exhibition. So, in part, the exhibition facilitated publication of the book – but it also extended the content of the book into a different mode of exposition. The book is illustrated in service of the text, but with the exhibition we move out of a textual mode.”

The exhibition features rarely seen examples of rock engravings, paintings and bushman artefacts, as well as activist T-shirts side by side with nineteenth-century artworks by Thomas Baines, Andrew Anderson, George Angas and others, some especially restored by Standard Bank for the exhibition.

Also on display are a variety of manuscripts, including a reproduction of Orpen’s original, books, and some spectacular photographs by Hollmann of the rock art sites where Qing and Orpen held their conversations.

Men Catching Snake
A digitally enhanced photograph of an image from Sehonghong Shelter identified by Qing as depicting “men … under water” catching a “snake” with “charms” and a “long reim” (sic). Another nineteenth century informant said the paintings depict “rainmaking”. Source: Jeremy Hollman.

 
Objects and artworks are placed in interesting juxtapositions, adding further layers to Qing and Orpen’s interaction. “There are objects from the Wits Art Museum and these are in a cabinet that is an echo of the nineteenth-century ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Next to them is a display of a selection of the many the books that have come out of their encounter. So this library display situated next to a museum storage mode of display generates new meanings, for example turning books into objects of material culture. We are asking questions in that kind of way.”

The exhibits are interspersed with short texts, often inconclusive and open-ended. “They throw questions back to the engaged viewer,” Wintjes says.

Exhibition and book explore the encounter of Qing and Orpen from various perspectives: history, archaeology, folklore and ethnography, linguistics, art and art history.

Both book and exhibition pivot on Orpen’s text and the agreement among the scholars involved that there was far more to be mined from it.
Linguist Du Plessis teased out the linguistic evidence “while attempting occasionally to ‘walk the text back’ in an effort to uncover particular words that may have been used either by Qing or the interpreters”.

“The information that Orpen transmitted for us includes around two dozen words from Qing’s ‘own language’,” Du Plessis says, and from these “small shards” she was able to ascertain that Qing’s language “was suffused with elements from both Khoekhoe and southern Bantu languages … while others must have been present from the outset in the broader !Ui family to which his language probably belonged”.
Weintroub sifted the history of the text and its place in knowledge production. “Scholars tend to use it as a repository of information to back up certain interpretative material,” she says. “But I wanted to look at its history as an archival object with a trajectory of its own in relation to epochs or paradigms of thought at different times.”

“This text came out of a brief, ephemeral encounter between two people long ago, but look at what it has given. The scholarly work on it is massive. That encounter was very short but it has inspired so much.”

Doubtless it will inspire more. Wright says: “This book and exhibition are not the final word on the subject. This is not a closed account.”

The exhibition is showing at the Standard Bank Art Gallery until the end of the year. The book On the Trail of Qing and On the trail of Qing and Orpen – From the Colonial Era to the Present Orpen is published by Standard Bank.

 
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On the Trail of Qing and Orpen

  • On the Trail of Qing and Orpen by José Manuel de Prada-Samper, Menán du Plessis, Jeremy Hollmann, Jill Weintroub, Justine Wintjes, John Wright
    EAN: 9780620688451
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Alan Paton Award shortlist: Interview with David Attwell on his book JM Coetzee and the Life of Writing

Published in the Sunday Times

David Attwell

 

JM Coetzee and the Life of WritingJM Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face to Face with Time
David Attwell (Jacana Media)

What prompted you to write the book?
Eva Cossee, JM Coetzee’s Dutch publisher, approached me eight years ago to write a short biography that she could publish alongside Summertime, the third of Coetzee’s fictionalised memoirs. I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the job. In the end, John Kannemeyer took care of the biography on a grand scale, but Eva and I kept in touch. When the manuscripts became available at the University of Texas, I discovered the book I could write – a study of Coetzee’s creative process.

The subtitle of the book is “Face to Face with Time”. Can you explain this reference?
The phrase comes from a draft of Life & Times of Michael K. Michael escapes into the Swartberg mountains and when he is beyond reach of his pursuers, he thinks, “Now at last I am face to face with time.” I use that image to discuss how Coetzee uses fiction as a way of confronting one’s existence.

How is your book different to a biography?
Biographies parcel up writers and put them on the shelf. Often they do this by reducing the writer’s work to the personal life. Coetzee himself once remarked that biographers write about what writers are doing when they are not writing. I’ve tried to do something different by starting with the work, rather than the life, and by showing how the life is transformed in the work as it takes shape.

What insight do we gain of Coetzee through his writing, and how?
The public image of Coetzee is that he is austere, remote, inscrutable, and a bit judgmental of ordinary mortals. The Coetzee who appears from his writing – the papers and the published novels – is vulnerable, fallible, anxious. Having said that, no one is as hard on himself as Coetzee is. He is incredibly demanding of himself, disciplined, and totally committed to his craft.

Who should read your book?
Anyone who has read a novel by Coetzee and is curious to know more. The critics will find useful material, but it’s written for the general reader. I suspect that the readers who would get most from it will be other writers, because they will be most anxious to find out how it’s done.

Writing about a writer’s writing – what lessons did you learn about your own writing?
That the autobiographical impulse is not a bad starting point after all. Coetzee almost always starts with something personal. It’s the discipline that comes later – the writing and re-writing – that really counts.

How has your feeling about Coetzee and his novels changed?
I’ve admired Coetzee’s fiction for 40 years, since I read his first novel, Dusklands, as a student. (Incidentally, Dusklands is about decolonisation; better still, it enacts decolonisation. It requires a bit of stomach to read, but the violence speaks to the present.) Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate something of the journey Coetzee has been on. Having started as an admirer of his books, I’ve come to appreciate more the creativity and the processes that produce them.

Has Coetzee’s absence from South Africa affected his work?
Yes, I believe it has. South Africa tortures our ethical being, and the imagination. Coetzee was able to use the discomfort to create beautiful, compelling novels. He once made an odd comparison between Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, and Samuel Beckett, most famous for Waiting for Godot. Coetzee said that what Beckett lacked was a whale. He was implying that although in spirit he was closer to Beckett, he, Coetzee, did at least have a whale. The whale is being in a state of crisis, or feeling history under one’s fingernails. In Australia he is more at peace with himself, and that sense of crisis has gone.

 
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