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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Kortlyste vir die kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-toekennings 2017 bekendgemaak

Die Afrikaanse resensiebedryf kan homself op die skouer klop te oordeel na die gehalte van inskrywings wat vir vanjaar se kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-wedstryd ontvang is.

Die kortlyste is pas bekend gemaak vir dié pryse, wat ingestel is om die belange van boeke en die leesgenot van boekliefhebbers te bevorder deur die wêreld van Afrikaanse boeke vir die breë Suid-Afrikaanse publiek toeganklik te maak. Dit dien ook as aanmoediging om hoë standaarde in die Afrikaanse boekjoernalistiek te handhaaf.

Altesaam 33 van die voorste resensente in Afrikaans het vanjaar ingeskryf, tien meer as verlede jaar. Twee pryse van R25 000 elk word toegeken vir die beste Afrikaanse resensie wat in 2016 oor Afrikaansie fiksie en niefiksie onderskeidelik verskyn het. Die kortlyste, wat uit 90 inskrywings saamgestel is, is soos volg:

Fiksie

Danie Marais: “Die ‘Kook en Geniet’ van oneerbiedigheid” (oor Anton Kannemeyer en Conrad Botes se Bitterkomix 17, Media24-dagblaaie, 4 Julie 2016)
Charl-Pierre Naudé: “Digterlike afdruk van ‘n lewe verbeeld” (oor Bibi Slippers se Fotostaatmasjien, Media 24-dagblaaie, 5 Desember 2016)
Elmari Rautenbach: “Debuut se stiltes ’n elegie aan verlore liefde” (oor Valda Jansen se Hy kom met die skoenlappers, Media 24-dagblaaie, 18 Julie 2016)

Niefiksie

Reinhardt Fourie: Vlam in die sneeu: Die liefdesbriewe van André P. Brink en Ingrid Jonker (geredigeer deur Francis Galloway, Tydskrif vir letterkunde, September/Oktober 2016)
Daniel Hugo: “Een van die heel grotes” (oor Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou, saamgestel deur Danie Botha, Rapport, 14 Februarie 2016)
Emile Joubert: “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 keurders was boekjoernalis en digter Bibi Slippers (sameroeper), senior joernalis en skrywer Jomarié Botha en digter en dosent Alfred Schaffer. Aangesien ’n werk van Slippers geresenseer is, is sy vir die finale keuring deur die redakteur van Huisgenoot, Yvonne Beyers, vervang.

Die keurders was dit eens dat die inskrywings deur die bank van ’n baie hoë gehalte was en werklik leeslus aanwakker.

“Daar was heelparty gevalle waar ek nie noodwendig onder normale omstandighede in ’n sekere boek sou belangstel nie, maar die resensent se entoesiasme en insigte het my genoeg geprikkel om dit ’n kans te wil gee,” sê Slippers.

“Dit was ook veral heerlik om verskillende resensies van belangrike boeke soos Die na-dood, Vlakwater en Koors te lees, en uiteenlopende interpretasies en leesbenaderings te kan ervaar via die resensente.”

Daar was vanjaar heelwat nuwe name onder die resensente wat ingeskryf het. “Ek hoop dat ons deur inisiatiewe soos dié die poel selfs verder kan vergroot. Hoe meer ingeligte, intelligente menings uit verskillende perspektiewe verteenwoordig is, hoe beter vir alle rolspelers in die boekbedryf,” sê Slippers.

Die wenners word op 30 September 2017 saam met die wenners van die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse in Kaapstad aangekondig.
 

Bitterkomix 17Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Fotostaatmasjien

 
 

Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 

Vlam in die sneeu

 
 

Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou

 
 

Wat die hart van vol is


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ATKV-Woordveertjies 2017 se finaliste bekendgemaak

Die name van die finaliste vir die 2017 ATKV-Woordveertjies is onlangs bekendgemaak. Dié prys vier tans sy tiende jaargang en die wenners sal op 8 September by Anura Landgoed buite Stellenbosch bekendgemaak word.

ATKV-Prosaprys

Tuisland – Karin Brynard (Penquin Random House SA)
Verlorenkop – Celesté Fritze (Queillerie)
1795 – Dan Sleigh (Tafelberg)

Prys vir Liefdesroman

Oorlewingsgids vir ’n bedonnerde diva – Sophia Kapp (LAPA Uitgewers)
Offerande – Chanette Paul (LAPA Uitgewers)
Anderkant vergeet – Santie van der Merwe (LAPA Uitgewers)

Prys vir Poësie

Hammie – Ronelda S. Kamfer (Kwela Boeke)
Fotostaatmasjien – Bibi Slippers (Tafelberg)
Die aarde is ’n eierblou ark – Susan Smith (Protea Boekhuis)

Prys vir Romanses

Moeilikheid met ’n meermin – Sophia Kapp (Romanza)
Troue in ’n towerbos – Rosita Oberholster (Romanza)
Liefde deur ’n lens – Elsa Winckler (Satyn)

Prys vir Spanningslektuur

Tuisland – Karin Brynard (Penquin Random House SA)
Die dood van ’n goeie vrou – Chris Karsten (Human & Rousseau)
Koors – Deon Meyer (Human & Rousseau)

Prys vir Dramateks

My seuns – Christo Davids
DEURnis – Jannes Erasmus, Henque Heymans & Johann Smith
Wild – Philip Rademeyer

Prys vir Niefiksie

Broedertwis – Albert Blake (Tafelberg)
Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde verraaier – Elsabé Brits (Tafelberg)
Historikus Herman Giliomee – Herman Giliomee (Tafelberg)


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Trade Secrets contributor Sally Partridge on magic, being a kitchen witch, and carbomancy

Sally Partridge is a novelist and short story writer from Cape Town, South Africa. She is a three-time winner of the M.E.R Prize for Youth Fiction and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Short Story Prize in 2013. She is passionate about youth literature, and bringing words to life. Her popular first novel was adapted into a school play titled Gif. For her contribution to the creative arts, Sally was named one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in 2011. Her fourth novel for young people will be published in February 2018. Joanne Hichens, curator of the Short.Sharp.Stories.Award, recently sat down with Sally and the two discussed her short story ‘Kitchen Witch’, magic, and the art of carbomancy.

Sally Partridge

 

Your story ‘Kitchen Witch’ tells the tale of a tender relationship between an elderly ‘baker’ and her protégé. What was your initial inspiration?

The story happened by accident. A typo over Whatsapp resulted in an exchange over what the arcane art of carbomancy would involve. From this “what if” scenario, it evolved into a story about the past and present, how fast time moves and how quickly the modern world can change if you stop paying attention. In a sense it’s my way of exploring a changing world. While I’m focused on the past, the present seems to have skipped ahead, and sometimes I look around and think to myself, “When did Snapchat happen?” and then, “Oh, it’s already gone.” I enjoy spending time offline, but there’s a cost attached to that – you stop keeping up with what’s happening. I wanted to create a character that’s so out of place in the modern world that she feels like she doesn’t belong anymore, and explore how she comes to terms with that.

Mrs Bailey has a charming sense of humour. Is it her age and experience which adds to this?

It was a defining characteristic. I wasn’t intending to write a caricature of an elderly woman, but rather a real character that the reader could engage and identify with.

For the uninitiated, what is ‘carbomancy’?

Carbomancy is the practice of predicting the future through baking and the reading of crumbs.

Do you personally like to bake?

Yes. Like Mrs Bailey, I’m a complete kitchen witch. For me, cooking and experimenting in the kitchen is all about how the results are going to be experienced. I’ll make pumpkin fritters because they’re a friend’s favourite, chicken soup for someone who is feeling low, a cake to make someone feel special on their birthday. I love how food is able to lift the spirits, and there’s magic in that. It’s transformative.

What is it that fascinates you about magic?

There’s an awe and wonder to magic, and a complete absence of rules and reason. I’m in love with the idea of using your imagination and creativity to make sense of things you don’t understand. I love looking at old ivy-covered buildings and imagining ghosts inside and leaves circling in the wind as some sort of impish mischievousness. It’s liberating to be able to see the world as this wild, powerful thing and not just an endless dredge of making ends meet.

Is magic a common theme in your other work?

I think so. Which is maybe why I love the young adult genre so much. Teenagers haven’t been jaded by the economic hamster wheel yet. The world is huge and full of possibilities. I like to think books can keep them believing that for a little longer.

Not only is the sense of magic enchanting, but in ‘Kitchen Witch’ the sea-side village of Muizenberg takes on an ethereal quality. Was this setting deliberate choice?

While I was writing the story I imagined that it could have taken place anywhere, but the more I built this world and added detail the clearer is became that Mrs Bailey lived in a ramshackle cottage in the old Muizenberg village. It seemed perfect somehow. Muizenberg is a place that changes slowly. Landmarks like the colourful changing booths and the water slides have stayed exactly the same for years, but change is happening. New additions like the Bluebird Market and the trendy restaurants at Surfer’s Corner show signs of a subtle gentrification, which was perfect for the theme that was developing.

What is your writing Trade Secret?

This pertains to magic again. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that magic exists and wanted to explore how and why it reveals itself to a select few.

Follow Sally on Twitter @Sapartridge

Trade Secrets

Book details


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Theme for next year’s Short.Sharp.Stories Awards announced

Instant Exposure – stories inspired by photographs

We live in an age in which increasingly we all take or view photographs. Visual language is growing and developing every day as we record our world and our experiences in visual terms. One could go as far as to say that every one of us has, by default, become a photographer as billions of images are uploaded online at any given moment.

We invite you to find a provocative photograph which inspires a powerful story. The image can be a spontaneously captured selfie, a bold news pic, a childhood snap in an old album; perhaps a framed tribute that brings back memories of joy, or a hidden print that haunts your past. Whether the photo is a portrait of a loved one, or an evocative landscape, whether colour or black and white, as long as the photograph has meaning to you, we encourage you to ‘find your story’ – the humour, the pathos, the drama – in the image.

As ever, we’re looking for stories with strong narrative drive, and characters and settings which reflect our South African experience and diversity.

Deadline 30 November 2017

This process is in three parts:
1) Choose the photographic image that inspires you…
2) Write a caption for that image…
3) Use the caption as a springboard to create your story of between 3000 to 5000 words.

We require the photograph, the caption, as well as the story to be submitted.

Please see full rules at www.shortsharpstories.com


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The judges of the 2017 Short.Sharp.Stories Award discuss the winning entries of Trade Secrets

Liesl Jobson is a writer, photographer and musician. Her collection of prose poems and flash fiction, 100 Papers, won the 2006 Ernst van Heerden Award and was translated into Italian as Cento strappi. She is the author of a poetry collection, View from an Escalator, a short story collection, Ride the Tortoise, and three children’s books. At dawn she is a single sculler. By day she is a communications officer for enterprise development specialists, Fetola, and at night she plays the contrabassoon for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra but only when the planets are aligned.

Judging is always a privilege and a challenge. The encounter with the creativity and endeavour of writers at work is humbling. The sincerity, intelligence and courage it takes to commit to the page gives one hope in the vibrancy, immediacy and relevance of the narratives. The offerings in this collection come from a wide range of external geographies and internal experiences, opening seams of contemporary experience from the most personal places of loss, violation, recovery and aspiration. Readers of this collection will find a variety of genres too: crime and pulp, chick lit and dick lit, as well as the experimental and literary. There are writers publishing their first stories, as well as experienced authors who have previously been nominated for international awards; there are experienced journalists and established poets crossing from their familiar zone into different forms. Particularly refreshing are the new voices who articulate stories that historically have not been well represented.

Phakama Mbonambi is a deputy editor at Sawubona magazine. A strong believer in the power of literature to help create bridges, he founded and edited Wordsetc, a literary journal on contemporary South African writing. While the journal may be in hibernation at the moment due to the shortage of funds and time, he hopes to revive it someday in one form or another.

I was looking for an original voice that tackled the theme of ‘trade secrets’ – directly or obliquely. I was looking for stories that are enjoyable, enlightening and entertaining – my primary reason for delving into literature. South Africa is blessed with a diverse population, ensuring that writers come from different backgrounds with their unique voices and singular world views. The richness of the writers’ imagination and the vastness of the topics tackled are something to behold. I hope readers of this anthology will be delighted and enlightened. The Short.Sharp.Stories competition is, without doubt, a powerful platform to discover new writing talent and to showcase excellence.

Tim Richman is a publisher, author and editor. He has worked closely with Joanne Hichens on all the Short.Sharp.Stories anthologies to date. In his twelve years in the South African book industry, he has authored and/or edited more than sixty titles. His next book, to be published internationally in 2017, is 50 People Who Stuffed Up The World, co-authored with Alexander Parker and with illustrations by Zapiro.

As a publisher, I hope to create books that are accessible, eye-opening and memorable, and this description applies perfectly to the ideal short story. There is sometimes the temptation to do too much, when the format’s limited length provides the opportunity for its great strength: to focus on a limited cast and setting to leave a lasting impact on the reader. As a judge, it was important to measure entries against the brief: stories shouldn’t be shoehorned to fit a brief. Some stronger stories fell down in that area, whereas the winners, in particular Wedding Henna, were often sublime in the way they incorporated a trade secret into their tale. And it’s important to reflect a genuine – though not necessarily mainstream or expected – South African-ness in a South African collection of writing; all those on my long-list hit the mark there. There is also the matter of our politics and demographics: a collection like this simply has to be inclusive and reflect the writers who have entered, as well as who we are as a country. Finally, as a reader, I value a story which keeps me turning the pages and leaves me with a sense of satisfaction at the end of it all.

Best Story
Wedding Henna
by Mishka Hoosen

“A powerful exploration of the erotic taboo behind the hijab. Tender and sensual writing that weaves a haunting tale as the narrator decorates her ex-lover’s hands before her wedding. At its core it’s about a broken heart and the longing that comes of it, but also hints at greater themes of personal ​identity and the questions of higher power. Beautifully bittersweet” – 2017 Short.Sharp.Stories Judges’ Choice

Runners-Up

The Line of Beauty
by Mapule Mohulatsi

“This is different — courageous, intriguing, thought-provoking, undeniably South African. Mohulatsi will prove to be a strong voice on the SA short story writing scene. A literary storytelling journey of note, about a storyteller and where stories come from” – Tim Richman

Eye Teeth
by Megan Ross

“This is a lyrical psalm of recovery written from the worst type ofbetrayal. The reader is treated to a masterful rewriting of traumanarrative by a storyteller who reclaims the geography of her body to effect a re-imaging and re-imagining” – Liesl Jobson

Handle With Care
by Amy Heydenrych

“Most South Africans have horror stories about the postal service. This tale of redemption is successful at an allegorical level; it touches on fixing that which is broken in the country. The story is enlivened with a dose of magical realism and underscored by a heart-warming empathy and romantic optimism” – Phakama Mbonambi

Commended

My Cuban
by Stephen Symons

“A gripping tale, a page-turning rumination on war and its victims, with excellent craft and structure, that left me wishing this was the first chapter of a 20-chapter novel. Lovely to see a poet retain the condensed power of the short form in an expanded line” – Liesl Jobson

Home Cooked
by Ntsika Gogwana

“The unhappiness in the marriage between Sizwe and Nomafa is firmly established. A powerful read which sustains interest as it focuses on male abuse and the rage of women against that abuse. The story contains compelling descriptions of shack life” – Phakama Mbonambi

Foul Hook at the Witsand Botel
by Bobby Jordan

“Rollicking, amusing storytelling that delightfully weaves the best type of magical realism into a convincing and uniquely South African setting” – Tim Richman
by Bobby Jordan

Trade Secrets is now available at book stores.


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kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse: Kortlyste is hier!

Ná maande van intense leesplesier deur die keurders is die kortlyste vir vanjaar se kykNET-Rapportpryse sowel as die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys vir nuwe skryfwerk pas bekend gemaak. Dié pryse word toegeken vir Afrikaanse boeke wat in 2016 verskyn het.

Soos verlede jaar bevat die kortlyste vir die kykNET-Rapportpryse vir fiksie die name van gevestigde skrywers sowel as van debuutskrywer Valda Jansen met haar besondere elegie aan verlore liefde, Hy kom met die skoenlappers. Laasgenoemde is ook benoem vir die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys. ’n Handvol ander sterk vrouestemme het eweneens hul kleim afgesteek met buitengewoon ryk verhale. Celesté Fritz (Verlorenkop), Ilse van Staden (Goeie dood wat saggies byt), Anneli Groenewald (Die skaalmodel) en Hester Kruger (Een nag en ’n bietjie) verdien spesiale vermelding. Krimi-skrywer Karin Brynard bevind haarself met Tuisland, ’n misdaadverhaal wat die lot van die Kalahari-San belig, ook op die kortlys van twee pryse, fiksie sowel as film.

Die verkenning van die verlede – en verre verlede – gee steeds perspektief vir die huidige generasie, soms deur die oë van ’n historiese figuur, soms deur dié van ’n gelouterde expat. Daar word veral gewoeker met die Afrikaanse Suid-Afrikaner se plek in ’n groter wêreld. Opvallend is die groeiende besef van ’n huidige geslag se verantwoordelikheid teenoor toekomstige generasies sowel as die omgewing.

By niefiksie in Afrikaans domineer temas uit en oor die geskiedenis steeds. Hoewel dit haas ongelooflik is dat die Anglo-Boereoorlog steeds, ná soveel boeke reeds daaroor verskyn het, die primêre historiese verwysingspunt bly van waar skrywers in Afrikaans hulle Afrikaneridentiteit en -geskiedenis beskou, is daar tog boeke wat iets nuuts en werklik besonders daaroor gelewer het. Daar is egter ook welkome bydraes oor die filmgeskiedenis, kosgeskiedenis, persgeskiedenis, kunsgeskiedenis. Ook die lewe van ’n gesoute geskiedskrywer word verhaal.

Die keurders van die filmprys het ’n ryk keuse gehad met die sterk temas en sprankelende dialoog wat die inskrywings opgelewer het.

Die kykNET-Rapport-kortlyste vir 2017 (alfabeties) is soos volg:

Niefiksie
Broedertwis, Albert Blake (Tafelberg)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde verraaier, Elsabé Brits (Tafelberg)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hermann Giliomee: Historikus – ’n outobiografie, Hermann Giliomee (Tafelberg)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Daar doer in die fliek, Leon van Nierop (Protea Boekhuis)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Die groot drie, Francois Verster (Penguin)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fiksie

Tuisland, Karin Brynard (Penguin)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Huilboek, Ryk Hattingh (Human & Rousseau)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hy kom met die skoenlappers, Valda Jansen (Human & Rousseau)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Op ’n dag, ’n hond, John Miles (Human & Rousseau)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1795, Dan Sleigh (Tafelberg)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Film 2017
Tuisland, Karin Brynard (Penguin)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dorado, Tom Dreyer (Penguin)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Koors, Deon Meyer (Human & Rousseau)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Al wat ek weet, Marita van der Vyver (Lapa)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pirana, Rudie van Rensburg (Queillerie)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Die keurders vir vanjaar se fiksietoekenning was die joernalis en koördineerder van die US Woordfees se boekeprogram Elmari Rautenbach, die ouduitgewer Frederik de Jager, prof. Steward van Wyk (UWK) en die rolprentvervaardiger Gerrit Schoonhoven. By niefiksie het dr. Irma du Plessis (UP), Darryl David (UKZN), prof. Herman Wasserman (UK) en filmvervaardiger Hermann Binge die stiplees gedoen.

Wenners in beide die fiksie- en niefiksiekategorie ontvang elk R200 000, en die wenner van die filmprys R100 000.

JAN RABIE-RAPPORTPRYS
Die wenner van die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys vir Afrikaanse debuutromans ontvang R35 000. Ook hier het vroueskrywers hulself laat geld – agt uit die tien titels wat vanjaar ingeskryf is, kom uit ’n vrouepen. Die kortlys (in alfabetiese volgorde) is soos volg:
 
Verlorenkop, Celesté Fritze (Queillerie)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Die skaalmodel, Anneli Groenewald (Tafelberg)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hy kom met die skoenlappers, Valda Jansen (Human & Rousseau)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Die keurders vir die Jan Rabie-Rapportprys was die digter en skrywer Danie Marais; die boekjoernalis Elna van der Merwe en die ouduitgewer en skrywer Kerneels Breytenbach.

Die wenners van beide pryse, sowel as dié van die kykNET-Rapport-resensiepryse, word op 30 September 2017 by ’n prysfunksie in Kaapstad aangekondig. Die kortlyste vir die resensiepryse word later in Augustus bekend gemaak.


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Joburg has a new space for gamers, creative professionals and book lovers

Including a state-of-the-art gaming facility and a creative hub with eight working spaces, the Goethe-Institut’s new Library – Gamebox – Hub was launched on Saturday 29 July and is now open to the public.

The Gamebox allows visitors to try out the latest from the world of video games. Currently available are seven computer games that won a gaming prize in Germany, as well as a variety of gaming consoles, an ultra-high definition screen and Virtual Reality equipment. The selection is set to be expanded and include regular curated showcases of South African, Sub-Saharan African and German digital games. Independent game developers and gaming startups can apply to make use of the Gamebox to present their ideas and products. Special events for Johannesburg’s gaming community, such as workshops and competitions, are also set to take place in the new space, for example through collaborations with the Digital Arts Department of WITS University and Fak’ugesi Festival. In partnership with the Johannesburg AMAZE Festival, a gaming breakfast with international guests will take place in September.

Situated on the gallery level of the Goethe-Institut’s new space is the hub. It offers eight fully equipped workplaces to creative entrepreneurs who are working on tech-driven creative start-ups. Until 31 August, interested individuals and collectives can apply to move into the hub for a defined period of six months. Additional benefits for successful applicants are organized networking events, tailored mentoring to help with their business, as well as opportunities to present their projects to the public. Projects in the field of digital games are preferred, as the Library – Gamebox – Hub focuses on this area. Joint events with existing hubs in Johannesburg are set to take place throughout the year.

The fully refurbished library space comes with an extended offer of books, magazines, films, music and children’s literature in different languages, as well as a brand new interior with lots of space for study or research. It will also continue to host the popular #LiteraryCrossroads, a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora, curated by Indra Wussow and Sine Buthelezi. #LiteraryCrossroads guests in September will be Rehana Rossouw (SA) and Fiston Mujila (DRC). For the December edition of #LiteraryCrossroads, the collaboration with Abantu Book Festival will be continued.

Applications for the hub can be handed in on https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdLSk1tf7MaFuElbGW_qK__MZmsS
0RoSTQ5ig4q7rixgwROaQ/viewform?c=0&w=1
. Deadline is 31 August 2017. For more information, please contact 011 442 3232 or write to hub-johannesburg@goethe.de.


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Man Booker prize 2017 longlist announced

The longlist for the prestigious Man Booker prize for Fiction 2017 has been announced. This prize is awarded annually to the best work of fiction written in English. The winner is awarded £50,000.

The list was chosen from 144 submissions published in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.

Baroness Lola Young, chair of the 2017 judging panel, said the 13 books “showcased a diverse spectrum – not only of voices and literary styles but of protagonists too”.

The shortlist, consisting of six books, will be announced on 13 September, ahead of the winning book being announced on 17 October.

The 13 titles which made the longlist are:

4321
Paul Auster

On March 3rd, 1947, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous paths. Four Fergusons will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and passions contrast. Each version of Ferguson’s story rushes across the fractured terrain of mid-twentieth century America, in this sweeping story of birthright and possibility, of love and the fullness of life itself. Listen to Michele Magwood’s interview with Auster on 4321 here.

Days Without End
Sebastian Barry

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, fight in the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Having both fled terrible hardships, their days are now vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. But when a young Indian girl crosses their path, Thomas and John must decide on the best way of life for them all in the face of dangerous odds. Read Bron Sibree’s interview with Barry here.

History of Wolves
Emily Fridlund

How far would you go to belong? Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on. So when the perfect family – mother, father and their little boy, Paul – move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into their orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcome, that she finally has a place to belong. Yet something isn’t right. Drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be? Click here to read our review of Fridlund’s debut novel.

Exit West
Mohsin Hamid

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind – when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world … Read a review of Hamid’s, who was previously shortlisted for the Man Booker (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), longlisted novel The Guardian here.

Solar Bones
Mike McCormack

Marcus Conway has come a long way to stand in the kitchen of his home and remember the rhythms and routines of his life. Considering with his engineer’s mind how things are constructed – bridges, banking systems, marriages – and how they may come apart. Mike McCormack captures with tenderness and feeling, in continuous, flowing prose, a whole life, suspended in a single hour. Follow https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/04/solar-bones-by-mike-mccormack-review for a full review on McCormack’s novel.

Reservoir 13
Jon McGregor

Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss. It’s Midwinter. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed. The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must. As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals. Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside. The Sunday Times review of Reservoir 13 can be read here.

Elmet
Fiona Mozley

Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction – Sally Rooney meets Sarah Perry, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go. Click here for more on Mozley’s longlisted novel.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Arundathi Roy
A richly moving new novel – the first since the author’s Booker-Prize winning, internationally celebrated debut The God Of Small Things went on to become a beloved best seller and enduring classic. The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey across the Indian subcontinent – from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi and the glittering malls of the burgeoning new metropolis to the snowy mountains and valleys of Kashmir, where war is peace and peace is war, and from time to time ‘normalcy’ is declared. Anjum unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home.

We encounter the incorrigible Saddam Hussain, the unforgettable Tilo and the three men who loved her – including Musa whose fate as tightly entwined with hers as their arms always used to be. Tilo’s landlord, another former suitor, is now an Intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then there are the two Miss Jebeens: the first born in Srinagar and buried, aged four, in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, in a crib of litter, on the concrete pavement of New Delhi. At once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a heart-breaker and a mind-bender, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love-and by hope. For this reason, fragile though they may be, they never surrender.

Braiding richly complex lives together, this ravishing and deeply humane novel reinvents what a novel can do and can be. And it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts. Michele Magwood’s recent interview with Roy can be read here. Click here to listen to the podcast of their conversation.

Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders
In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other.

February 1862. The Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son is gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory — called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo. Within this transitional state, where ghosts mingle, gripe, and commiserate, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices — living and dead, historical and invented — to ask a timeless question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

Read Rosa Lyster’s Sunday Times review of Saunders’ novel.

Home Fire
Kamila Shamsie
From the Orange and Baileys Prize-shortlisted author comes an urgent, explosive story of love and a family torn apart

Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.

A review of this internationally acclaimed author’s longlisted novel can be read here.

Autumn
Ali Smith
A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both. Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819.How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearian jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making.Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves. Here comes Autumn.

Click here for more on Autumn.

Swing Time
Zadie Smith

A dazzlingly exuberant new novel moving from north west London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty. Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, black bodies and black music, what it means to belong, what it means to be free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten either. Bursting with energy, rhythm and movement, Swing Time is Zadie Smith’s most ambitious novel yet. It is a story about music and identity, race and class, those who follow the dance and those who lead it . . .

Annetjie van Wynegaard’s Sunday Times review of the renowned Smith’s longlisted novel can be read here.

The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

Read Bron Sibley’s interview with the Pulitzer Prize winning author here.

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Fiction Friday: read Bushra al-Fadil’s winning entry for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing

The Sudanese writer Bushra al-Fadil was announced as the winner of the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing on 3 July. His story, “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookler, was published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK, 2016).

Press release from the Caine Prize for African Writing:

Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK. 2016). The Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, announced Bushra al-Fadil as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner this evening (Monday, 3 July) held for the first time in Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS as part of their centenary celebrations. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.

“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”

Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.

Read “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” here:

The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away
Bushra al-Fadil

Translated by Max Shmookler

 
There I was, cutting through a strange market crowd – not just people shopping for their salad greens, but beggars and butchers and thieves, prancers and Prophet-praisers and soft-sided soldiers, the newly-arrived and the just-retired, the flabby and the flimsy, sellers roaming and street kids groaning, god-damners, bus-waiters and white-robed traders, elegant and fumbling.

And there in the midst, our elected representatives, chasing women with their eyes and hands and whole bodies, with those who couldn’t give chase keeping pace with an indiscrete and
sensual attention, or lost in a daydream.

I cut, sharp-toothed, carving a path through the crowd when a passerby clutched his shoulder in pain, followed by a ‘Forgive me!’ Then a scratch on a lady’s toe was followed with a quick ‘Oh no!’ Then a slap to another’s cheek, after which was heard ‘Forgiveness is all I seek!’

So lost in dreams I could not wait for their reply to my apology.

The day was fresher than a normal summer day, and I could feel delight turbaned around my head, like a Bedouin on his second visit to the city. The working women were not happy like me, nor were the housewives. I was the son of the Central Station, spider-pocketed, craning my neck to see a car accident or the commotion of a thief being caught. I was awake, descending into the street, convulsing from hunger and the hopeless search for work in the ‘cow’s muzzle’, as we say.

I suppressed my unrest. The oppressed son of the oppressed but despite all of that – happy. Could the wretched wrest my happiness from me? Hardly. Without meaning to, I wandered through these thoughts.

The people around me were a pile of human watermelons, every pile awaiting its bus. I approached one of the piles and pulled out my queuing tools – an elbow and the palm of my hand – and then together they helped my legs to hold up my daily depleted and yearly defeated body. I pulled out my eyes and began to look… and look… in all directions and to store away what I saw.

I saw a blind man looking out before him as if he were reading from that divine book which preceded all books, that book of all fates. He kept to himself as he passed before me but still I felt the coins in my pocket disappear. Then I saw a woman who was so plump that when she called out to her son – ‘Oh Hisham’ – you could feel the greasy resonance of the ‘H’ in your ears. I saw a frowning man, a boy weaving an empty tin can along the ground with his feet. I saw voices and heard boundless scents and then, suddenly, in the midst of all of that, I saw her. The dervish in my heart jumped.

I saw her: soaring without swaying, her skin the colour of wheat – not as we know it but rather as if the wheat were imitating her tone. She had the swagger of a soldier, the true heart of the people. And if you saw her, you’d never be satiated. I said to myself, ‘This is the girl whose birds flew away.’

Her round face looked like this: Her nose was like a fresh vegetable and by God, what eyes! A pharaonic neck with two taut slender chords, only visible when she turned her head. And when she turned her head, I thought all the women selling their mashed beans and salted sunflower seeds would flee, the whole street would pick up and leave only ruts where they had been, the fetid stench of blood would abandon the places where meat was sold. My thoughts fled to a future I longed for. And if you poured water over the crown of her head, it would flow down past her forehead.

She walked in waves, as if her body were an auger spiralling through a cord of wood.

She approached me. I looked myself over and straightened myself out. As she drew closer, I saw she was holding tight to a little girl who resembled her in every way but with a child’s chubbiness. Their hands were woven together as if they had been fashioned precisely in that manner, as if they were keeping each other from straying. They both knit their eyebrows nonchalantly, such that their eyes flashed, seeming to cleanse their faces from the famished stares of those around them.

‘This is the girl whose birds flew away,’ I said.

I turned to her sister and said, ‘And this must be the talisman she’s brought to steer her away from evil. How quickly her calm flew from her palm.’

I stared at them until I realised how loathsome I was in comparison. It was this that startled me, not them. I looked carefully at the talisman. Her mouth was elegant and precise as if she never ate the stewed okra that was slowly poisoning me. I glanced around and then I looked back at them, looked and looked – oh how I looked! – until a bus idled up and abruptly saved the
day. Although it was not their custom, the people made way for the two unfamiliar women, and they just hopped aboard. Through the dust kicked up by the competition around the door I found myself on the bus as well.

We lumbered forward. The man next to me was smoking and the man next to him smelled as if he were stuffed with onions. If the day were not so fresh, and were it not for the girl and her talisman and their aforementioned beauty, I would have gotten off that wretched bus without a word of apology. After five minutes, the onionised man lowed to the driver: ‘This’s my stop, buddy.’

He got off and slammed the door in a way that suggested the two of them had a long and violent history. The driver rubbed his right cheek as if the door had been slammed on him. He grumbled to himself, ‘People without a shred of mercy.’

The onion man reeled back around and threw a red eye at the driver. ‘What?’ he exploded. ‘What’d you say?’

‘Get going, by God!’ I yelled. ‘He wasn’t talking about you.’

As the bus pulled away, the onionised man’s insults and curses blended with the whine of the motor. As if the driver wanted to torment us, he continued the argument as a monologue, beginning, ‘People are animals…’

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The 2018 Etisalat Prize for Literature is open for entries

The Etisalat Prize For Literature 2018 is open for entries and PEN SA member Siphiwo Mahala has been named as one of the judges for this year. Submissions will only be accepted from publishing houses, read the entry criteria here and enter here.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature celebrates new writers of African citizenship whose first fiction book (over 30,000 words) was published in the last twenty four (24) months. For the purposes of this definition, first book means first printed production in book form.

Authors and their publishers can be based anywhere in the world. The winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature receives £15,000, and a high end device. In line with our vision of promoting upcoming writers, Etisalat will sponsor a book tour to three African cities. The winning writer will also embark on the Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia mentored by Professor Giles Foden (author of The Last King of Scotland) which will include significant opportunities to meet other writers, publishers and most importantly work on their second book. The Etisalat Prize for Literature is unique in that it also aims to promote the publishing industry at large and will therefore purchase 1000 copies of all shortlisted books which will be donated to various schools, book clubs and libraries across the African continent.

Read more about the Etisalat Prize For Literature


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