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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Enter the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing

Entries for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing are now open!

A cash prize of £10,000 is up for grabs for the winning author and a travel award for each of the short-listed candidates (up to five in all). The shortlisted candidates will also receive a Prize of £500. The winner is also invited to go to three literature festivals in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

Published authors who wish to add ‘Caine Prize contributor’ to their CVs have until 31 January 2018 to submit their entry via their publishers.

Take note – unpublished work, as well as children’s books, factual writing, plays, biographies and works shorter than 3000 words will not be considered.

The Caine Prize for African Writing aims to bring African stories and writers to a global audience via the art of short story writing.

Click here for the complete guideline.


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“Obviously no one but a fool writes fiction for money” – a Q&A with Trade Secrets contributor, Darrel Bristow-Bovey

Darrel Bristow-Bovey is a screenwriter and columnist who lives in Sea Point. He was won the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize and a Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature, as well several South African Film and Television Awards, and was a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing. His most recent book is One Midlife Crisis and a Speedo, a memoir about growing up and falling in love and trying to swim from one continent to another.

Joanne Hichens, curator of the Short.Sharp.Stories Award, recently interviewed Darrel who’s currently in southern Spain. In between sips of rioja, Darrel shared his disdain for authors having to explain their stories, why melancholy and poignancy are naturally funny things, and a short, sharp (sorry…) writing trade secret.

Darrel Bristow-Bowey, author of the Trade Secrets story ‘An Act of God’

 
In your story, ‘An Act Of God’, journalist Andrew misses a working lunch with the lead of a touring Irish dance troupe; he loses his job and begins to write obituaries. Is this tongue in cheek? Has he been diminished by writing the lives of ordinary dead people, in contrast to exploring the lives of celebrities?

No, not tongue-in-cheek at all. I also don’t think he’s diminished, although it might appear that way to the world, and even at first to him. I think he finds far greater dignity and creative purpose and fulfillment in writing the stories of ordinary people. Ordinary lives are rich and full and fascinating, and contain far more than the thinly presented lives of celebrities. The most interesting things don’t happen in public – they happen unseen in the lives of those going about their days around us. I also think he found his real material, and his real voice, writing about ordinary people and giving them the dignity and consideration that we all deserve, no matter who we are and what we have or have not done.

Your protagonist, Sarah, meets Andrew who happens also to be disabled, at an Italian class and so begins their affair… until Bella Lennon appears, a movie star of note! Andrew’s career again picks up, and he miraculously begins to walk again. Is there deeper meaning here?

No, I don’t think so.

Short and sweet! Let’s skip to the last line of the story, which ends with the words ‘…this is what it looks like and this is what it feels like…’ Is this a means to reinforce the ‘flow’ of life? To show an acceptance of what ‘is’?

I don’t know that I specifically wanted to show anything. I just wanted to tell a story about two people and a portion of their lives.

I often advocate, to newer writers, that a short story should stick to a time-frame, but yours transgresses this boundary as Sarah and Andrew, as time goes by, are married and divorced… the story spans time and place. What are your thoughts on this?

A time-frame is just the length of time something takes, isn’t it? Are you saying that time should pass at the same rate from the beginning of the story to the end? I can see no compelling reason why that should be the case. I think whatever a story needs in order to be told is precisely what it should have.

The story is coloured by a certain poignancy, melancholy even, a self-deprecating humour. Is writing humour a natural instinct for you?

I think poignancy and melancholy are naturally funny things, and vice versa. I think writing that is without humour, and without a degree of self-awareness, tends to be pompous and dull and life-denying. I am painfully aware that these answers fall into that category.

“Ordinary lives are rich and full and fascinating.” Bristow-Bovey on the significance of obituaries.

 

Surely some readers are interested in the writer behind the story? Why would you think the answers dull and life-denying?

By that, I mean that I am aware that I am not answering with any great verve or sense of humour, and I think the upshot of that is that the answers feel dull to me, and I find dullness to be a little life-denying. Why am I answering without any verve or sense of humour? I’m not sure – partially because I am writing this from southern Spain, in between other commitments, especially a commitment to a fine bottle of rioja in the small bar opposite the bullring in Ronda. Partially because I have a horror of sounding self-important or self-indulgent, and so as a counter-measure I am perhaps tending towards the non-committal.

Is it your opinion that stories be left to speak for themselves? (That bottle of rioja, by the way, sounds delightful!)

Look, obviously the purpose of these interviews is to publicise the book, so I totally get the point of them, and as far as that goes I think they’re a good thing. I also think the questions you’ve posed to people have been good and thoughtful. I am all in favour of the questions; it’s the answers I think we can all live without. I don’t think any story was ever improved by having its author explain it. In these our times, I see authors (or aspiring authors, more precisely) endlessly talking about their writing or themselves writing or their relationship to the writing life on social media, and I think it’s a little pitiful and doesn’t do their work or them any favours.

As a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, what does fiction offer you that non-fiction might not?

I write non-fiction for money. (Well, to be honest, I don’t actually write non-fiction, I write opinion pieces and personal columns, which isn’t fiction, but it also isn’t quite the medium implied by ‘non-fiction’.) Obviously no one but a fool writes fiction for money, and the act and process of doing something not for money, not because you have to, is freeing. It frees you from calculation and from the demands and constraints of professional work. When you’re writing fiction you can write whatever you want, and take as long as you like, and end it however you want, and there is no pressure from anyone else or yourself to do otherwise, or to account for it or justify it. Fiction gives me freedom, which is sometimes joyful and sometimes obviously not, but is something that I need.

Please share a writing Trade Secret…

Do some every day.

Follow Darrel on twitter at @dbbovey

Trade Secrets

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A Q&A with Mishka Hoosen, winner of the 2017 Short.Sharp.Stories Award’s ‘Best Story’

Mishka Hoosen was born in Johannesburg. She graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy and later from Rhodes University with an MA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel, Call it a difficult night, was published by Deep South Books in 2016.

Mishka Hoosen‘s ‘Wedding Henna’, which won the R20 000 prize for BEST STORY, is a powerful exploration of the erotic taboo behind the hijab. Hoosen’s tender and sensual writing explores the delicate process of painting lacy floral patterns, in henna, on the bride’s hands on the morning of her wedding. Behind this technical artistry, the author weaves another, more haunting tale, as she explores the past relationship between her protagonist, Aisha, and the bride to be. Mishka and Joanne Hichens, curator of the Short.Sharp.Stories Award, recently discussed her winning entry:

Congratulations on winning this year’s Short.Sharp.Stories Award for BEST STORY. What does this ‘win’ mean to you?

It’s incredibly difficult to explain really, and deeply, deeply moving and humbling. It’s difficult, when it’s a story that is, for me at least, centered in so much pain, so much internal and external struggle, and so many unresolved things. This contest means so much in terms of setting the tone of the literary landscape in this country, the conversations we’re having, the stories we’re bringing to light. I’m utterly humbled and awed to be counted among the writers included in this anthology, who are producing such startling, necessary, brilliant work. I’m just deeply grateful, to everyone who enjoyed the story, to the judges, the organizers who have done such exemplary work, and to my husband, who is my biggest supporter and helped give me the space and love to tell this story.

I think one of the biggest and most powerful things about this whole experience is the passion and attention of the Short.Sharp.Stories team who by doing this, are making space for voices and stories that are so often erased, vilified, ignored, to be heard. In recent years, I’ve been trying with all my heart to follow Toni Morrison’s advice, to write the stories I want to read, and more than that, to write the stories I need to hear, the stories younger me needed like air, but didn’t get to hear. If there’s solace that comes from this story, for one person, if there’s a hand reaching in the dark, or a little more empathy and kindness kindled in the world because of it, that’s everything, that’s enough.

“…love demands truth from us, the fullness of truth, and the fullness of acknowledgement, of honoring it.”

 
‘Wedding Henna’ reads in one sense like a coming of age story, as Aisha reconnects with her school friend and the memories are ignited, of being school children together, as Zahra takes this next step into marriage. Would you agree with this?

Yes, I definitely think so. It’s meant as a kind of laying to rest, a necessary addressing and honoring of something before the next stage of life can begin.

The story has such an authentic right to it, one wonders about the inspiration and how close is the story to your own experience?

My story is inspired by some of the people, places, and things I have loved, and what love does. I’m not sure how else to put it. There are aspects of people I’ve known and loved in here, and things that belong entirely to the story. Above all it’s the experience of love I wanted to capture, love that is beset on all sides, love that sears, and is forced to transcend so much in order to remain whole. There’s a great deal of my feelings about love and the sacred in here. About how love lifts us out of ourselves, brings us closer to the sacred, the transcendent. And when you’re dealing with such ignorance and harm and prejudice, the only solace, often, is in the sacred. I wanted to capture that feeling I’ve experienced, and I think many others have. I think art comes from compulsion, and our experiences are what compel us.

Love is not always easy… your protagonist, Aisha, has to subjugate her love for her schoolfriend Zahra… it seems as if instinctively she knows she must do this, yet she tells her aunt. The aunt in turn is revolted by the disclosure: ‘I told her, Auntie Sohair, I love somebody. I’m in love with somebody. With a girl….’ Wasn’t this a big risk for Aisha to take? Why did she do it?

It was a terrifying, horrible risk, yes. But I find, for better or worse, that love demands truth from us, the fullness of truth, and the fullness of acknowledgement, of honoring it. And also, what we love, and who we love, is so often a part of ourselves, a part of what makes us ourselves, and we want to share ourselves with the people we love, with our family and friends, especially. I think that if we have to keep that part of ourselves in the dark, out of sight, then we’re not wholly ourselves with the people we have to keep that from.

I think Aisha would feel that her love of her aunt demands that she be wholly herself with her, around her, and so she can’t deny or hide her love of Zahra. She wants to celebrate it, and share it, because what feeling human being wouldn’t want to do that? If she had been in love with a boy she could have confided in her aunt, she could have sought her advice, it could have been something that brought them together, and if one day she wanted to get married to him, it would have been a source of joy, of closeness, between them. It is inhumane to deny her that, and I think on some level she knows that.

Aisha is one of the most sincere characters I’ve ever written, honestly, and she’s sincere to the point of naivety, in a way. But she’s a Muslim, and we’re taught to speak truth no matter what, even unto our own parents, not to be underhanded, to be sincere in our intentions and our actions, and so if she believes in that, then she will be truthful and forthright. She will speak the truth even if it harms her. She will honor the goodness she finds in her life sincerely and in the open, if she can. It’s perplexing to me why we say one thing and do another, particularly in religion. I wanted Aisha to be a stand against that, this virulent hypocrisy that so many people enact, and most especially when they use religion to justify their own hate, their own dismissal and arrogance and lack of empathy.

Not only are questions of love and sexual identity placed in the spot light, but very gently, and subtly, questions of God are raised too, as Aisha comments: ‘What we were brought up with was so finite… God confined to black and white lines…’ Can you comment on this?

There’s almost too much I have to say about this, and I don’t think I can do my feelings justice. I think I poured a lot of my feelings about it into the story, to be completely honest, and so that will have to say the bulk of how I feel, and even that doesn’t do it very well, in my opinion. I have a reverence and love of the sacred, of God, of faith, that goes beyond anything I could say. It is my driving force and my deepest love and the impetus behind everything I attempt. I have also had the most sacred and sincere and noble parts of myself attacked, and harmed, horrifically, by people who claim the same, and who use religion as their justification for a kind of unkindness, a lack of empathy, of mercy, of love, a virulent and cruel hatred, a cruel dismissiveness and mockery, towards people based on their gender or sexual identity. I find it completely antithetical to what I believe God is – which is all-encompassing, all-understanding, most merciful, most gracious and beneficent and kind. I still struggle with that, with what to do with that.

The themes I address in the story are definitely shaped by and influenced by my own Muslim background, people I’ve known, things I’ve witnessed, and so on.

And so the story unfolds as Aisha tenderly executes the wedding patterns on Zahra’s hands. Apart from being an excellent fictional device to carry the story along, what is the particular significance of the ritual?

It’s generally a celebratory kind of act, and often that’s when a lot of laughter and secrets and advice will be shared. There’s a big aspect of womanhood and camaraderie to it, at least in my experience attending Mehndi nights and doing Mehndi patterns for brides and so on. But there’s also a profound and gentle intimacy to it that is very poignant when there’s erotic love between the two people involved.

In this story, I was actually inspired by a painting called The meeting on the turret stairs by Frederic William Burton, which captures this utterly poignant moment between two lovers whose relationship is forbidden. It’s a perfect depiction of so much of the medieval ideas surrounding courtly love – silence and restraint, sincerity and reverence and longing. The woman turns away while her lover is only able to kiss her sleeve in passing. It’s so charged with erotic tension but executed with such restraint that the moment is held taut, and it’s that aspect, the restraint of ritual and etiquette, the longing and erotic charge of touch, of the hand brushed in passing, that inspired me.

How did you research the ‘trade’ of painting Mehndi?

I’m actually a practitioner myself. I’ve done henna and Mehndi painting since I was twelve.

To get to the style, the writing has a lyrical quality which makes for fluid reading. Are you aware of ‘rhythm’ as you write? Or is the writing style determined by the character?

I’m not sure, I think it depends. I think often, when you get into the kind of ‘flow’ of writing, when you’re receptive and open and things are moving and happening, it kind of happens organically, and when you tap into a character’s voice, it takes on a life of its own.

What writing Trade Secret would you like to share?

There’s not much of a secret except to remember that it’s work. And as Khalil Gibran said, and my dearest mentors always reminded me, ‘Work is love made visible’. You must honor the work. Keep showing up. Keep paying attention. Keep your love as sincere as you can.

Click here to visit Mishka’s author’s page.

Trade Secrets

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2017 Brittle Paper Literary Awards winners announced

The winners of the 2017 Brittle Papers Literary Awards has been announced! The awards recognise the “finest, original pieces of literature by Africans available online for free.”

As per the announcement:

We announced it to mark our seventh anniversary. Its five categories—Fiction ($200), Poetry ($200), Creative Nonfiction/Memoir ($200), Essays/Think Pieces ($200), and the Anniversary Award ($300) for writing published by us—reflect our efforts to capture the range and variations of literary dialogue on the continent. Across these five categories, 48 pieces of writing, each beautifully crafted and thought-provoking, were shortlisted based on their quality, significance and impact.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR ESSAYS/THINK PIECES

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Essays/Think Pieces: Meet the Nominees

From a class of essays and think pieces that situate the African writer’s work within global conversations, we chose Sisonke Msimang’s brilliant commentary on black women as figures of intellectual power, “All Your Faves Are Problematic: A Brief History of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stanning and #BlackGirlMagic.”

Msimang explores, with the eye of the scholar and pop culture critic, the forces that have contributed to Chimamanda Adichie’s dominance in the global imagination. The piece may be about Adichie in subject, but it is also driven by larger questions about how we produce knowledge in the age of social media. Drawing from a wide array of discursive fields – literature, feminism, politics, and fashio – Msimang offers a hard and searing look at how questions of race intersect with global intellectual iconography and social media culture.

“All Your Faves Are Problematic” is published by Africa is a Country, a remarkable intellectual project that has contributed immensely to changing the rules, practices, and conventions on how we produce knowledge about the continent.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR FICTION ($200)

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction: Meet the Nominees

From a box of ten short stories that range from the startling to the tragic, we chose Megan Ross’s aching romance, “Farang.” A study of intimacy and companionship set in Thailand and South Africa, a reflection on love and language, on foreknowledge and inevitability, “Farang” is wrought in visual prose so lyrical and controlled it moves like a spring. In “Farang,” we witness a dialogue among subject, style, and aesthetic experimentation, but one that is accessible in its complexity.

It is time, also, to salute the unrivaled work that Short Story Day Africa Prize is doing for short fiction on the continent. The prize’s top three entries for 2016, from the collective’s most recent anthology, Migrations, all made our shortlist. The collective has left its mark on the 2010s literary scene, and we are all the better for it.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR POETRY ($200)

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Poetry: Meet the Nominees

From a pool of ten poems that range from stylistic daringness to psychological acuity, we chose J.K. Anowe’s thematically deviant, Self-centric “Credo to Leave.” An interrogation of psychological make-up, delivered in a voice grounded in vulnerability and deep existential pain, “Credo to Leave” is an entry point to an emerging sub-tradition in the poetry of Nigeria’s new generation. It is a sub-tradition preoccupied with the visceral, personal, and psychological—internal void, suicidal tendencies, masturbation, sex—with digging into the Self. Pegged in the psyche, its introspection—the focus on speaking into oneself rather than speaking out to the world—is an outlet for a confessional generation not afraid to voice its internal struggles and flaws, to make art of it. Given the emotional and psychological state of its voice, the wording of “Credo to Leave,” the abrupt clarity of it, demonstrates psychological acuity, clinical depression unadorned. “Credo to Leave” is a revolt.

“Credo to Leave” is published by Expound, a magazine that is often a conduit for the development of new talent, but J.K. Anowe’s emergence began from Praxis magazine’s poetry chapbook series. We recognize and applaud here the priceless work that homegrown platforms put in to usher in new voices, particularly as these platforms are themselves run by new voices.

THE BRITTLE PAPER AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION ($200)

Read: The Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction/Memoir: Meet the Nominees

From a collection of eight creative nonfiction pieces that range from the explosive to the breathtakingly innovative, we chose Hawa Jande Golakai’s witty rebuttal to stereotypes, “Fugee.” An affecting interrogation of the Ebola crisis in Liberia, as well as of identity and the life of an artist-cum-clinical scientist, “Fugee” is delivered in a beguiling blend of humorous, quotable, often-lyrical sentences. Golakai documents one of the most precarious moments for the African continent with the seriousness it deserves but also the private, subjective dimension it requires. The essay is the perfect modulation of distance and nearness, pain and humor, social commentary and the confessional. In many ways, “Fugee” exemplifies, in the deftness of its composition and the humaneness of its delivery, Ellah Allfrey’s notion of a “specifically African genre of creative nonfiction.”

Golakai’s piece is available to read for free on Granta.com, but it was originally published in Safe House, a groundbreaking nonfiction collection edited by Ellah Allfrey.

THE BRITTLE PAPER ANNIVERSARY AWARD ($300)

Read: The Brittle Paper Anniversary Award: Meet the Nominees

From a mix of twelve conversation-driving fiction, poetry and nonfiction published on our site, we chose Chibuihe Obi’s brave, impactful “We’re Queer, We’re Here.” A query into the paucity of Nigerian literature about queerness and an expatiation of the immediate violence that so empowers homophobia, Obi’s work is all the more important given the unfortunate circumstance of his kidnapping – which only strengthens his work’s premise. Published, in a weird coincidence, on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the essay racked up 2,000 views in its first week, and more than 6,000 views in its first five weeks and, five months later, is inching towards 8,000 views, at a rate that might move it into our top-20 most-viewed posts within months.

Congratulations to Sisonke Msimang, Megan Ross, J.K. Anowe, Hawa Jande Golakai and Chibuihe Obi.


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2017 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro

The prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the renowned British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Ishiguro has received widespread acclaim for his novels Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant.

Read Michele Magwood’s interview with Ishiguro on the Buried Giant here and listen to her 2015 interview with Ishiguro here:


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Book Bites: 1 October 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

King Kong  King Kong: Our Knot of Time and Music
Pat Williams, Portobello Books
****
Award-winning author Pat Williams documents the jazz opera King Kong. The musical is centred on heavyweight ’50s boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini. Hailed as the unbeatable champ of those days, Dlamini was said to be dangerous, as William writes: “He would fight someone in the ring and then invite them to come outside and fight again on the street.” Fame turned to infamy when he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing his girlfriend. He later committed suicide, drowning himself in the prison dam. According to Williams it was thanks to King Kong that jazz legends like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela found fame, and it was where Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu met and fell in love. Williams also describes the impact the opera had on her and on the show’s original cast. – Khanyi Ndabeni

The MayflyThe Mayfly
James Hazel, Bonnier Zaffre
***
A paint-by-numbers thriller that starts off with too much exposition but relaxes into a character-driven narrative. Protagonist Charlie Priest is large, handsome and clever, with more than the required number of flaws. Once a detective inspector, Priest left the police to start a legal firm for a handful of high-end corporate clients in London. As a result he is loathed by most of his former colleagues, one of whom happens to be his ex-wife. He suffers from bouts of dissociative disorder during which he cannot communicate, although it’s hard to see how his appalling social skills could get any worse. And then there’s his brother, a convicted serial killer with whom Priest plays Holmes-and-Watson observation games during visits to the psychiatric prison ward. Sue de Groot @deGrootS1

A Jihad for LoveA Jihad For Love
Mohamed El Bachiri with David Van Reybrouck, Head of Zeus
****
“Life no longer tastes the same to me, but the setting sun is still glorious,” writes Bachiri after his wife, Loubna Lafquiri, was murdered on 22 March 2016 in a terrorist bombing in Brussels. Bachiri’s raw grief seeps through the pages of this tiny book that is part poetry, part memoir, and part tribute. This varied collection comes together as an overall plea to the world to cease reacting with hate and to fight for love. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

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Wenners van kykNet-Rapport-boekpryse 2017 bekend

Die wenners van die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse – die grootste pryse van hul soort in Afrikaans – is op Saterdag 30 September 2017 in Kaapstad bekend gemaak. Die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys vir die beste debuutroman in Afrikaans asook die twee kykNET-Rapportpryse vir boekresensent van die jaar is by dieselfde geleentheid oorhandig.

Hulde is gebring aan ontslape skrywers soos Karel Schoeman en PG du Plessis, maar die aand het behoort aan die huidige geslag skrywers, wat sulke geleenthede moontlik en gedenkwaardig maak. Hettie Scholtz, sameroeper van die drie hoofboekpryse, het die skrywers geloof vir boeke wat diep sny, diep delf, en ’n aar raak boor. “Dit het by my ’n insig van Chesterton opgeroep, sy geloof dat daar één ding is wat ’n helderheid aan dinge verleen: die vermoede van iets nét om die draai. Ek kan werklik nie wag om te sien waarmee hierdie skrywers volgende vorendag gaan kom nie! Hierby sluit ek die inskrywings vir die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys in.”

Die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse met ’n gesamentlike prysgeld van R500 000 is toegeken aan die volgende skrywers:
- Fiksie: Huilboek, Ryk Hattingh (Human & Rousseau)
- Niefiksie: Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde Verraaier, Elsabé Brits (Tafelberg)
- Film: Al wat ek weet, Marita van der Vyver, (Lapa)

Die keurders het die fiksiewenner, Ryk Hattingh, geloof “vir sy sagkense behandeling van groot dinge, die subtiliteit van segging, die beskeie toon en algehele gebrek aan selfkoestering. Die manier waarop hy persoonlike pyn uiteindelik, sonder politieke grandstandery, vestig in die konteks van ’n hele land se trauma, is uitsonderlik en maak van Huilboek ’n prestasie in hoe groot kragte in beweging gestel kan word deur ’n minimum aan woorde en vertoon.”

Waardering is ook uitgespreek vir die niefiksiewenner, Elsabé Brits, se herbesoek aan ou bronne oor Emily Hobhouse “wat ons in staat stel om opnuut in hierdie merkwaardige vrou die eienskappe te sien wat aan die kern lê van ons universele menslikheid – die vermoë om te empatiseer met die onderdruktes, op te staan vir reg en geregtigheid selfs teen ’n hoë persoonlike en politieke prys, om nood en lyding te verlig ongeag waar dit voorkom. Sy skets Hobhouse as die vergestalting van verset soos dit in die woorde van die Nederlandse digter Remco Campert gedefinieer word: Om aan jouself ’n vraag te vra, daarmee begin verset – en om dit dan aan ’n ander te vra. Dit noop ons om in die Suid-Afrika van vandag weer hierdie kritiese vrae te vra oor menswaardigheid, gelykheid, en weerstand.”

Marita van der Vyver se jeugboek Al wat ek weet het van die prysaand ’n behoorlike rap-aand gemaak. Sy is geloof vir die ligte, vaardige hand waarmee sy die sensitiewe verhaal van ’n seun van gemengde afkoms stuur tot waar hy sy plek in die groter bestel van die lewe vind. En dit deur die skryf van rap songs waarmee hy sy verliese en woede transendeer en sy eie stem vind. “Dis ’n verhaal wat getuig van besondere vakmanskap, een wat smeek om verfilm te word,” sê keurder Herman Binge. “Dink – nét vir ’n oomblik – aan die nuwe Afrikaanse treffers wat hierdie film gaan oplewer, die eerste volwaardige hip-hop-fliek in Afrikaans!”

Die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys ter waarde van R35 000 is vanjaar toegeken aan Valda Jansen vir Hy kom met die skoenlappers (Human & Rousseau). Volgens die keurders is Jansen se debuutroman in vele opsigte meer as “’n elegie aan verlore liefde”, soos dit op die omslag bestempel word. Dit word “’n pynlik intieme en deurtastende verkenning van al die maniere waarop ’n hele lewe soos een byna noodwendig verspeelde kans kan voorkom . . . Jansen kleur nie dit wat persoonlik is ooit met groot politieke stellings nie, maar wys hoe onontwarbaar die persoonlike en die politieke in Suid-Afrika verstrengel is. Haar debuut gee ’n aangrypende en ontstemmende blik op ’n bevreemdende, bruin middelklas-ervaring van apartheid; ’n genuanseerde perspektief op ’n benarde posisie wat nog bitter min in Afrikaanse fiksie belig is.”

Die kykNET-Rapportpryse vir boekresensent van die jaar, vir die beste Afrikaanse resensies wat in 2016 oor ’n Afrikaanse fiksie- of niefiksiewerk onderskeidelik verskyn het, is ook oorhandig. Die wenners, wat elk R25 000 ontvang het, is:
- Fiksie: Danie Marais vir “Die ‘Kook en Geniet’ van oneerbiedigheid” (oor Anton Kannemeyer en Conrad Botes se Bitterkomix 17, Media24-dagblaaie, 4 Julie 2016), en
- Niefiksie: Emile Joubert vir “Die afkook van ’n vol lewe vind hier beslag” (oor Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman met Elmari Rautenbach, Media24-dagblaaie, 31 Oktober 2016).

Die keurpanele vir die onderskeie pryse was: kykNET-Rapport-fiksieprys: Frederik de Jager, Elmari Rautenbach, Steward van Wyk en Gerrit Schoonhoven; kykNET-Rapport-niefiksieprys: Herman Wasserman, Irma du Plessis, Darryl David en Herman Binge; kykNET-Rapport-filmprys: Herman Binge en Gerrit Schoonhoven; kykNET-Rapport-boekresensentpryse: Bibi Slippers, Alfred Schaffer, Jomarié Botha en Yvonne Beyers; Jan Rabie-Rapportprys: Elna van der Merwe, Danie Marais en Kerneels Breytenbach.

Die seremoniemeesters vir die aand was Karen Meiring van kykNet en Waldimar Pelser van Rapport. Die prysfunksie is by die Dapper Coffee Company restaurant in Kaapstad gehou.

Boekbesonderhede

Huilboek

 
 
 
 
Emily Hobhouse

 
 
 
 
Al wat ek weet

 
 
 
 
Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 
 
 
Bitterkomix 17

 
 
 
 
Wat die hart van vol is


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Man Booker Prize 2017 shortlist announced

The six authors shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize have been announced. First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its list of winners includes many of the giants of the last four decades, from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Ian McEwan. The prize has also recognised many authors early in their careers, including Eleanor Catton, Aravind Adiga and Ben Okri.

As per the Man Booker’s website release:

Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund, Mohsin Hamid, Fiona Mozley, George Saunders and Ali Smith are today announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Their names were announced by 2017 Chair of judges, Lola, Baroness Young, at a press conference at the offices of Man Group, the prize sponsor.

The judges remarked that the novels, each in its own way, challenge and subtly shift our preconceptions — about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death.

The shortlist, which features three women and three men, covers a wide range of subjects, from the struggle of a family trying to retain its self-sufficiency in rural England to a love story between two refugees seeking to flee an unnamed city in the throes of civil war.

In the fourth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, the shortlist is made up of two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers.

Two novels from independent publishers, Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury, are shortlisted, alongside two from Penguin Random House imprint Hamish Hamilton and two from Hachette imprints, Weidenfeld & Nicolson and JM Originals.

The 2017 shortlist of six novels is:

4 3 2 14321 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)

Listen to Michele Magwood’s interview with Auster on 4321 here
 
 
 
 
 
History of WolvesHistory of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exit WestExit West by Mohsin Hamid (UK-Pakistan) (Hamish Hamilton)
 
 
 
 
 
 
ElmetElmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Autumn
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
 
 
 
 
Lola, Baroness Young comments:

With six unique and intrepid books that collectively push against the borders of convention, this year’s shortlist both acknowledges established authors and introduces new voices to the literary stage. Playful, sincere, unsettling, fierce: here is a group of novels grown from tradition but also radical and contemporary. The emotional, cultural, political and intellectual range of these books is remarkable, and the ways in which they challenge our thinking is a testament to the power of literature.

Ali Smith makes the Man Booker shortlist for the fourth time (she was previously shortlisted for Hotel World in 2001, The Accidental in 2005 and How to Be Both in 2014). This year also sees a repeat shortlisting for Mohsin Hamid, who made the list in 2007 with The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Hachette imprint JM Originals makes the shortlist for the first time with Fiona Mozley’s Elmet, which was the first ever acquisition of assistant editor Becky Walsh. Mozley is also the youngest author on the shortlist, aged 29, and one of two debut writers to make the list – the other being 38 year-old American Emily Fridlund with History of Wolves.

The other two American authors on the shortlist are Paul Auster and George Saunders. 4321 by Auster, who turned 70 this year, is the longest novel on the shortlist at 866 pages and, according to the author, took three and a half years, working 6 and a half days a week, to write. Lincoln in the Bardo, the first full-length novel by Saunders — an acclaimed short story writer and Folio Prize winner — completes the list.

Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:

Congratulations to each of the authors who have been shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. The list represents a celebration of exceptional literary talent, ranging from established novelists to debut writers, that we are honoured to support. As well as playing an important role in recognising literary endeavour, the prize’s charitable activities underscore Man Group’s charitable focus on literacy and education and our commitment to creativity and excellence.

The judging panel, chaired by Lola, Baroness Young, consists of: the literary critic, Lila Azam Zanganeh; the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; the artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and the travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron CBE.

The 2017 winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 October in London’s Guildhall, at a dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the literary world. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.

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Enter the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Deadline: 1 November

Entries for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize have opened!

This prestigious prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished fiction (2000 – 5000 words) in English. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.

Translated entries are also eligible, as are stories written in the original Bengali, Chinese, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan and Tamil.

The competition is free to enter.

Click here for the submission guidelines.

Watch the video below, created by the Commonwealth Writers YouTube channel, for both insight and inspiration:


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“Hair can really shake things up” – a Q&A with Trade Secrets contributor, Sally Ann Murray

Though not a sentimental person, Sally Ann Murray loves her family and her dogs. (She hates the expression ‘her loved ones’.) She is the recipient of prizes such as the Sanlam Literary Award for poetry, and the M-Net and the Herman Charles Bosman prizes, for her novel Small Moving Parts. She likes to create things. By nature (when time and heat allow) she is a gardener. Mostly, what she does is chair the English Department at Stellenbosch University, working with a group of excellent colleagues. Here Sally Ann and Joanne Hichens, the curator of the Short.Sharp.Awards discuss her Trade Secrets entry, how hair can really shake things up, and challenging The Authority…

You have mentioned that your story, ‘Clippings’, derives from quite a tangle of ‘clippings’. What was the initial inspiration for your story?

When I worked at UKZN, I once praised a colleague’s sleek, chic hairstyle. Actually, she said, she lived with the wound of another self, a girl with rampant, springy curls. She told me of a girlhood experience: standing in her very red school uniform, with her very red, embarrassed face, enduring her mother’s furious complaints about having to deal with that bushy hair. This snippet was the imaginative kernel of ‘Clippings’, though red hair, per se, was nowhere in evidence. I had to wait for the idea to take fuller shape…

Was this ‘fuller shape’ influenced by the fact that issues around ‘hair’ seem always to be in the news?

…mmm. Remember the outrage around hair in girls’ schools: black hair, afro hair, big hair; hair that needed to be controlled? In that racist climate, I was prompted to imagine a scenario in which ‘hair’, under the narrows of apartheid, could manifest as a gendered provocation. And let’s not forget that at the time I was supervising a PhD on the representation of sexualities in African fiction…

Certainly ‘hair’ and identity are closely linked… in general, why is ‘hair’ so loaded?

I’m not sure. Maybe because it’s so intimately changeable, so difficult to control? For some people, ‘hair’ is a border which marks race, or gender. I mean, in terms of schools, say: ‘hair’ is a site over which The Authorities are used to exerting petty control, and securing obedient subordination. All those young boys with their vulnerable, exposed necks, and bak-ore. Girls who must rein in their wildness, and be biddable. I am not my hair. But I love the fact that hair can really shake things up. Now it’s this style, and colour. Then suddenly it’s blue, or a man-bun. For all those old-style ladies who habitually went to get their ‘hair set’, well, hair doesn’t settle. It doesn’t stay put, either.

With all the contemporary focus on ‘hair’, why choose to set the story in the past?

Not because I’m nostalgic! Maybe because I’m interested in history? And definitely because I was chary about entering the current debates. From whose point of view would I be able write? Some uptight white school authority. That’s not me. But nor did I feel legit voicing the experiences of a young black woman, caught in the racist debacle. Sure, I think a writer should be free to write into experiences beyond her own, that’s part of the imaginative skill. But I didn’t figure I had the right deftness to handle it, never mind the right. And anyway, I really did want to offer an angle in which the emphasis on race, in apartheid SA, was turned towards other, more occluded, complexities.

Ruby’s mother, with all her anxieties and burdens of family – in one form or another – hovers in the background as young Ruby is attended to in the salon ‘A Cut Above’ by the stylist, Richard, who has his own issues around being gay, and certainly the state of the country… Are these the kind of complexities you speak of?

Maybe the story is tussling with the complex forms of authority, and power over person, through which personhood nevertheless grows into being? ‘Clippings’ tries to lead beyond the obvious surface, so that a reader’s allegiances and empathies are repeatedly unsettled. The mother annoys the hell out of me, with her dogmatic insistence, her apparently self-satisfied absorption in style… and then something in me, as a writer, found a node of connection, and the story coaxed me to discover this woman’s own sorrows, her living sadness and alienation. And Mr Richard. He’s a gay man, and often in a style that veers towards affirming the flamboyant, received expectation – that’s possibly in keeping with the historical setting of the narrative (as are the slurs used by the husband, Mr Bosch). And yet Mr Richard’s highly expressive, animated queerness is also subversive, resistant, a powerful means to challenge the narrows of the town in which he works, the politics of the country as a whole. And then yet again, as his dealings with Ila (his co-stylist) suggest, his queerness cannot suddenly be burdened with the demand of representing progressive, alternative masculinities. Just because he’s queerly different, should we expect him to be more tolerant, more accepting, of Ila’s messy life? That ain’t necessarily how things work!

The young protagonist, Ruby, is quirky, could be described as difficult in some respects, as was the ‘daughter’ in another of your stories, ‘How to Carry On’, published by Short.Sharp.Stories in Incredible Journey. Does writing this sort of character appeal to you? Do you have a preference for the ‘family’ drama?

I do like writing girl children. Especially their potent power, in the space of girlhood, when they have not yet been formalised and contained. They’re wonderfully ambiguous. So full of feistiness and fragility. I mean, really, the terrifying, inescapable thought that you will grow up to be a woman! And as for family dramas – what else is there? In terms of engaging fiction, the family is the seat of so much tension and possibility, always socially situated. Tolstoy was on to something, even if you don’t utterly agree: All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

How did you imagine yourself in the shoes of this child?

It’s not easy, even if sometimes the ideas do slip beautifully into place. When it comes to kids (people in general), I’m a hoarder of sidelong glances and words overheard – those help to get the story right. But it’s a difficult line to work, not overstepping the child’s view with that of the adult author. Especially since the kind of kids I find imaginatively appealing, for story material, tend to be the precocious, sassy, smart-mouthed kind, already too big for their boots, some adults would think. And who yet are tender and breakable.

I’m sure your personal experience of the ‘hair salon’ (I presume there have been visits!) influenced your threaded narrative?

…salons. I’m awkward in the hands of stylists. I pull back from spaces which entail revealing intimacies, among strangers. My hair is a happy mess which I (un)happily used to hack myself, until my family suggested I ought to relinquish inept control. But I know quite a bit about hip barbers, really, since our idiosyncratic daughter likes a buzz cut, etched with distinctive ‘vinyls’.

As a consummate ‘pro’, please would you share a writing Trade Secret (or few…)?

I’d rather be given The Secret myself! But, ok: don’t wait too long to get started. Don’t think of yourself as a reader, not a writer: the two are closely connected. Develop a thick skin, for those days when nothing goes right. (Rejections. They happen. And happen.) And then as soon as possible make yourself vulnerable again; thin your skin to the world because that’s what you need to make the writing better.

Trade Secrets

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