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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Call for submissions for 2018 Golden Baobab Prize now open


Golden Baobab is pleased to announce the call for submissions for the 2018 Golden Baobab Prize. The Prize discovers and celebrates African writers and illustrators of children’s stories and confers awards for their work…

The 2018 Golden Baobab Prize offers three awards:

– The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books, for the best story targeting a reader audience of ages 4-8.

– The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books for the best story targeting a reader audience of ages 9-11.

– The Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators for the best artwork that matches illustration briefs provided, intended for children ages 4-11.

Winners of the 2018 Golden Baobab Prize will receive a cash prize of 5,000 USD. In addition to press publicity, winning stories are guaranteed a publishing deal, finalist writers are connected with publishers across Africa and finalist illustrators participate in exhibitions and workshops.

Click here for the submissions guideline


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Harold the ceramicist and the Melon’s gallstone – Sue de Groot on the (many) comical translations of Harry Potter

Everyone loves JK Rowling, except perhaps those who cursed her when translating Harry Potter

By Sue de Groot

SPARE a thought for those who translate English texts. Mastering English is a Sisyphean task for those who speak it from birth; learning it as a second language is, to put it mildly, a bastard. Now imagine what it must be like to transform the infinitely complex twists and turns of an idiomatic, idiosyncratic English sentence into something that makes sense in another language.

As if that weren’t difficult enough, imagine trying to translate words that do not exist in any dictionary, English or otherwise. You might think everyone in the world worships and adores JK Rowling, but I suspect those who had to translate the Harry Potter books occasionally cursed her.

How do you translate quidditch, horcruxes, wrackspurt and crumple-horned snorkacks into other-language words of similar bounce and gravitas? And what about those quibbilicious character names? These are the things that kept translators awake at night.

One solution would have been to leave Rowling’s words alone, but translators are a brave bunch and besides, English wordplay only works if you understand English. To be effective in other languages, names and places would have to be rewritten, and some of the interpretations of Potterverse are almost as entertaining as the books themselves.

Take the “pensieve”, a bowl containing someone’s memories. Rowling’s word combines the properties of a colander and deep thought. The Germans turned it into the lovely Denkarium, a made-up word that married thinking with an aquarium. The Norwegians, if you ask me, fell a little short of the mark. They call it a tanketank, literally a “thought-tank”, which sounds more like a gathering of business executives than a magical device.

Chinese translations are inscrutable unless one can read Chinese characters, but if you ever get a chance to watch the dubbed Harry Potter films with English subtitles, do treat yourself. For some reason the Chinese word for “Muggle” (a non-magical person) translates back into English as “melon”.

As any Pottermaniac knows, Muggles are spread thickly throughout the seven books. Turning them into Melons results in a giant fruit basket. To pick just a few random sentences: “Melons have garden gnomes too, you know”; “You should take Melon studies next year”; “I was merely reading the Melon magazines”; “Melon women wear them, Archie; not the men”; “Even Melons like yourself should be celebrating”; “My parents are Melons, mate”; “How come the Melons don’t hear the bus?” And so on.

As for the character names, Harry, Ron and Hermione have escaped intact, as has Voldemort, but the key plot point involving an anagram presented a huge translation challenge. He-who-should-not-really-be-named made up his own creepy label by jumbling up the letters of his given Melon name, Tom Marvolo Riddle — the anagram is “I am Lord Voldemort”. The French got around this by changing Voldemort’s original name to Tom Elvis Jedusor, which yielded the anagram “Je suis Voldemort”. But how can one take a supervillain called Elvis seriously?

The French have also had fun with the names of animals. Hermione’s cat Crookshanks is known as Pattenrond in France. Ron’s rat Scabbers is Croûtard, and Dumbledore’s phoenix Fawkes has become Fumseck — which sounds like a thumbsuck to me.

The Mentalfloss website has investigated foreign names for the Hogwarts houses. In Spanish, Swedish, German, Polish, and Hebrew they remain Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin, but in other countries they have been reinterpreted in some mystifying ways. The French, for instance, changed Hufflepuff to Poufsouffle, which sounds like a cross between something you eat for breakfast and something you rest your feet on. They changed Slytherin to Serpentard — Harry’s Gryffindor mates would no doubt have howled with joy at the implied insult.

Hufflepuff seems to have given translators the most trouble. In Brazilian Portuguese it is Lufa-lufa, like something one might use in the shower. In Italian it is Tassorosso (“red badger” for the house’s mascot) and in Welsh it is Wfftiwff, which apparently is not an acronym. In Czechoslovakia they settled for Mrzimor.
There’s much more to this than Mrzimor and Melons. I recommend this rabbit hole whenever you need a mood lift.

*This is an extended version of the Pedant Class column published in Sunday Times Lifestyle Magazine on March 26 2017

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 
 
 
 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

 
 
 
 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

 
 
 
 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 
 
 
 

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

 
 
 
 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


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Ses moet-lees Maart boeke

Protea Boekhuis het ‘n besige Maart-maand agter die rug gehad. Van verbeeldingryke kinderboeke vir die jongspan, tot geskiedkundige novelles, tot dramatekste wat menslikheid ondersoek, is onlangs geubliseer.

Lees verder oor die volgende ses boeke waarby enige kranige leser sal aanklank vind:
 
 

Die dag is bros/Sandton City GrootdoopDie dag is bros/Sandton City Grootdoop
Wessel Pretorius

AGTERGROND
Twee dramas oor familie, verhoudings, vergifnis en herinneringe. Wat bybly, is dat mense maar net mense is. Dat versoening deel van menswees is. Dat stukkende mense mekaar kan help heel word en dat familie tog familie bly – ondanks omstandighede, persoonlike keuses en uitdagings.

Sandton City grootdoop
‘n Drama oor ’n ma en haar twee dogters wat vir die eerste keer in ’n lang tyd bymekaarkom om die oudste, Danél, se verjaardag in Sandton City te vier. In die proses begin die trio mekaar se verlede, gevoelens en emosies oopkrap met eerlike, en snaakse, oomblikke.
Kara, die ma, is die aktrise wat haar man en kinders op ’n jong ouderdom verlaat het om haar groot droom om wêreldberoemd te word, na te volg. Sy erken dat sy nie bevoeg of beskore was vir moederskap nie, maar probeer tog om tot hulle deur te dring en hulle vertroueling te wees. Haar oudste dogter, Danél, is bipolêr en bly na ‘n onlangse selfmoordpoging weer by haar ma. Sy is naïef en emosioneel en val maklik vir haar ma se manipulasie.
Haar suster, Lisa, is gay en verwyt haar ma dat sy nog niks met haar lewe gedoen het nie. Sy is kwaad en kras en wil graag haar ma skok met haar uitlatings oor seks, maar ’n mens kom agter dat sy eintlik baie kwesbaar is.

“Die minimalisme van die stuk bind jou en hou jou vasgenael tot die einde.” Leonie Bezuidenhout
“Dit is galbitter, snaaks en bitter seer in ewe maat, ’n driekuns wat Pretorius keer op keer regkry. Jy lag, maar jy weet jy moet eintlik ween.” – Leatitia Pople

Die dag is bros
Dis laatmiddag. Elsa, voorheen ’n lektor in Afrikaanse letterkunde, berei ’n driegangmaaltyd voor vir Brian se verjaarsdag. Hy was ’n jeugmisdadiger wat ’n tweede kans gegun is onder Elsa se vlerk. Sy stel hom bloot aan Sheila Cussons en hy vul ’n leemte in haar lewe. Tussendeur word daar speletjies gespeel met Tertius – die vreemde kind wat kersiebloeisels aandra uit Japan. Voor die kos koud kan word sal die dag ’n ingrypende wending neem.

Die dag is bros is benoem vir ’n Fiësta as beste nuutgeskepte Afrikaanse produksie.

OOR DIE OUTEUR
Wessel Pretorius is die wenner van die 2015 Afrikaans Onbeperk-prys vir ’n jong stem.

Voor ek my kom kryVoor ek my kom kry
Pirow Bekker

AGTERGROND
Die omslag van die bundel met sy abstrakte figure suggereer die gesprek wat in hierdie bundel gevoer word met die self, die geliefde, die lewe en die dood. Die digter ondersoek erskillende fasette van ’n lang en kreatiewe lewe. In die eerste afdeling kom die verhouding met die aarde ter sprake; in die tweede afdeling die ambivalente verhouding met die land waarin hy gekies het om te bly woon, ten spyte van die ongenaakbaarheid van klimaat, plae en sosio-politieke kwessies. In die volgende afdelings kyk die digter op ironiese wyse na die dreigende dood wat hom in verskille gedaantes voordoen. Dan volg gedigte oor die liefde: vir die taal, die woord en vir die geliefde vrou. Die fyn humor waarmee die digter na die ouderdom kyk, sorg dat die laaste gedigte nie neerdrukkend is nie, maar die lewe bly omhels, soos in “Hansie Slim herbesin”, waarin gespot word met die “mediese kernplan” waarmee voorsorg vir siekte en ouderdom getref word.

En tog,
die hele infrastruktuur ten spyt
verlaat Hans sy huis, begeef hy hom
op ’n lukraak ryloopreis
die wyer wêreld in.

Daarom kan die digter in die slotgedig terugkyk op die verrassing van ’n lewe wat sonder beplanning of padkaart, sy eie verloop geneem het.

OOR DIE OUTEUR
Pirow Bekker is ’n veelsydige skrywer van romans, kortverhale en poësie. Sy vorige twee bundels, Van roes en amarant (2008) en Atlas teen die vergeetrivier, (2013) is goed ontvang deur die literêre kritiek.

Kroniek van turfKroniek van turf
Dolf van Niekerk

AGTERGROND
Hierdie novelle sluit aan by twee vorige prosawerke van Dolf van Niekerk, naamlik die jeugverhaal Karel Kousop (1985) en Koms van die hyreën (1994). Kroniek van turf is gedeeltelik ’n prequel vir die vorige twee boeke. Dit vertel die geskiedenis van Gerrit, ’n werknemer van die VOC, wat in die 18de eeu begin boer op ’n leningsplaas in die Roggeland. Omstandighede dwing hom om na die distrik Swellendam te verskuif. Sy twee seuns, Johannes en Daniel, soek albei later ook na ’n veiliger blyplek, aanvanklik in die Kamdebo. Onrus op die Oosgrens laat hulle verder trek; Johannes na wat tans die Vrystaat is en Daniel saam met die Voortrekkers na Natal, waar hy en sy vrou slagoffers van die Bloukransmoorde word.
Waar Johannes hom op ’n plaas tussen die Riet- en die Modderrivier vestig, maak hy weer kontak met die Kousop-Boesmans wat hy vroeër naby die Gariep ontmoet het. Tussen Johannes se nageslag en die Boesmans ontwikkel ’n vae, onsekere band wat oor meer as ’n eeu sou strek. Onverwags maak een van Johannes se nasate, Johan, tydens die Bosoorlog kennis met ’n Boesmanspoorsnyer wat ook ’n Kousop-nasaat blyk te wees en wat ’n bepalende rol in ’n grondeis op Johan se plaas tussen die twee riviere sou speel.

OOR DIE OUTEUR
Dolf van Niekerk is ’n bekende en geliefde skrywer van prosawerke soos Die son struikel (1960), Skrik kom huis toe (1968) en Die haasvanger (1985). Sy mees onlangse publikasies, die digbundels Bleek planeet (2012) en Portrette in my gang (2015), is baie goed deur die kritiek ontvang. Hy is meermale vir sy werk bekroon en het onder andere die Eugène Marais-prys, die M.E.R.-prys en die Scheepersprys ontvang.

Die prinses met die lang hareDie prinses met die lang hare
Annemarie van Haeringen

AGTERGROND
In ’n klein, arm landjie woon daar ’n prinses met ongelooflike lang hare. Sy sou dit graag wou afknip, maar haar pa sê dat ’n dame se hare haar kosbaarste sieraad is . . .

‘n Prettige boek vir meisies wat hou van prinsesse, lang hare en sterk mans.

OOR DIE OUTEUR EN ILLUSTREERDER
Annemarie van Haeringen ontvang in 2000 die Nederlandse Gouden Penseel-toekenning vir hierdie boek – ’n eer wat haar ook met Malmok (1999) en Beer is op Vlinder (2005) te beurt geval het. Ander bekroonde werke van haar is Het begin van de zee en Coco of het kleine zwarte jurkje, wat onderskeidelik met ’n Zilveren Griffel en ’n Zilveren Penseel vereer is.
 
 
 

Die storie van ontdekkingsreiseDie Storie van Ontdekkingsreise
Anna Claybourne

AGTERGROND
Vanaf die vroegste tye verken mense al die aardbol op soek na nuwe plekke om te bewoon, verleidelike skatte, asemrowende vergesigte of die roemryke voorreg om die éérste mens op ’n hoë bergpiek te wees.
Hierdie boek vertel die verhale van onverskrokke ontdekkingsreisigers wat dit tot by die ysige pole gewaag het, bloedig warm woestyne oorgesteek het, riviere vol krokodille trotseer of vir die eerste keer reg rondom die aarde geseil het.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lafras Cuyper in VenesiëLafras Cuyper in Venesië
Karl Kielblock

AGTERGROND

Karl Kielblock het verskeie boeke geskryf, waaronder die Lafras Cuyper-reeks baie bekend is en wyd versamel word. Dit handel oor seeavonture in diens van twee oorlogvoerende moondhede vroeg in die 19de eeu. Hierdie is die sesde boek in dié reeks, propvol opwinding, spanning en avontuur!

’n Besoek aan Venesië – dit is ’n droom wat waar word vir die beroemde kaperkaptein Lafras Cuyper. Dié droom word egter ru onderbreek toe Lafras een aand in die donker stegies aangeval word. Voor hy die raaisel oor die aanval kan oplos, roep Napoleon hom terug na Parys. Lafras moet Venesië verlaat – en ook die aanvallige Justina, wat sy hart so gou verower het. Hy moet met die Turkse goewerneur gaan onderhandel oor drie Franse offisiere wat as gyselaars aangehou word. Tussendeur al die lewensgevaarlike avonture, verskyn die beeld van Justina kort-kort voor Lafras. Hy móét haar weer sien. Hy móét weer terugkeer na Venesië … en sy aanvallers.

Die verhaal van Lafras Cuyper is op feite gebaseer.

OOR DIE OUTEUR

Karl Kielblock is ʼn bekende skrywer en selfs ná sy afsterwe bly sy boeke onweerstaanbaar. In 1936 verskyn sy eerste boek Die skat van Java. Sedertdien het daar verskeie romanse, speur- en spanningsverhale asook verskeie jeugverhale die lig gesien. In 1970 ontvang Kielblock die Scheepersprys vir die boek Rebel.

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Stephen Hawking has co-written a book on the universe – for children!

George's Secret Key to the Universe

George’s Secret Key to the Universe teaches children the basics of astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology and other principles that govern our universe. This book makes science interesting while it teaches children fun and interesting facts about astronomical objects. Stephen Hawking, author of the multi-million copy bestselling A Brief History of Time, and his daughter Lucy explain the universe to readers of all ages. George’s parents, who have always been wary of technology, warn him about their new neighbours: Eric is a scientist and his daughter, Annie, seems to be following in his footsteps. But when George befriends them and Cosmos, their super-computer, he finds himself on a wildly fun adventure, while learning about physics, time and the universe. With Cosmos’s help, he can travel to other planets and a black hole. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on Cosmos? George, Annie and Eric aren’t about to find out, and what ensues is a funny adventure that clearly explains the mysteries of science. Garry Parsons’ energetic illustrations add humour and interest, and his scientific drawings add clarity.

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Jong natuurliefhebbertjies kan uitsien na diere-atlas!

Vra jou kind gereeld watter diere in die koudste plekke op aarde oorleef?

Wil Jannie of Sannie weet waar jy die wêreld se grootse vlermuis sal vind?

Weet hulle van die bloeddorstige piranha-vissies wat in die Amasonerivier rondswem?

Wat van waar in Suid-Afrika jy die “uitgestorwe” selekant kan vind?

Al hierdie vrae en nog vele meer word in Wendy Maartens se My eerste diere-atlas beantwoord. Dié atlas is pragtig geïllustreer en propvol interessante feite oor die diereryk.

Nie net sal jou aspirant-natuurdeskundige gaande wees oor elke asemrowenede feit nie, My eerste diere-

My eerste diereatlasatlas dien boonop as ‘n wonderlike naslaanbron wat op enige leergierige skoolkind se boekrak hoort!

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Imagining ourselves into existence: First ever Abantu Book Festival in Soweto a roaring success

Words and images by Thato Rossouw

My Own LiberatorUnimportanceSweet MedicineAffluenzaNwelezelangaThe Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other StoriesRapeFlying Above the SkyNight DancerBlack Widow SocietyThe Everyday WifeOur Story Magic

 
“A conquered people often lose the inclination to tell their stories.”

These were the words of former Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke at the inaugural Abantu Book Festival, in discussion with readers about the importance of black people telling their own stories and having spaces where they can share them with one another. “We have stories to tell, they are important, and they are liberating in nature,” he said.

 
Moseneke’s words came as a preamble to compliment the authors Thando Mgqolozana and Panashe Chigumadzi, and the rest of their team members, for organising a festival that not only celebrated black writers, readers, pan-African book stores, and online platforms that celebrate African literature and narratives, but also gave them a safe space to speak freely about the issues they face in their struggle to liberate themselves.

The festival, which was themed “Imagining ourselves into existence”, came as a result of Mgqolozana’s decision early last year to renounce white colonial literary festivals. In an interview with The Daily Vox in May last year, Mgqolozana told Theresa Mallinson that his decision to reject these festivals came from a discomfort with literary festivals where the audience was 80 percent white. “It’s in a white suburb in a white city. I feel that I’m there to perform for an audience that does not treat me as a literary talent, but as an anthropological subject,” he said.

 
The three-day festival took place at two venues: the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre, which hosted free events during the day, and the Soweto Theatre, which hosted events in the evening. These evening festivities cost R20 per person and featured over 50 poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights, literary scholars, screenwriters, performing artists and children’s writers from across Africa and the diaspora. Some of the writers and artists who were present at the festival include Niq Mhlongo, Unathi Magubeni, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Lebogang Mashile and Chika Unigwe, among many others.

 
The first day of the festival began with a discussion featuring four black female Fallist writers, Dikeledi Sibanda, Mbali Matandela, Sandy Ndelu and Simamkele Dlakavu, titled “Writing and Rioting Black Womxn in the time of Fallism”. The discussion covered topics ranging from the role of the body, particularly the naked body, in challenging old narratives, to writing and rioting as acts of activism. It was then followed by a highly attended talk with Justice Moseneke entitled “Land and Liberation”, a concert by the group Zuko Collective at the Soweto Theatre, as well as speeches and performances at the opening night show.

Some of the riveting discussions at the festival were titled: “Land and Liberation”, “Women of Letters”, “Writing Today”, “Cut! Our Stories on Stage and Screen”, “Ghetto is Our First Love”, “Creating Platforms for Our Stories” and “Writing Stories Across and Within Genres”. The festival also included seven documentary screenings, poetry performances, a writing masterclass with Angela Makholwa and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, and performances every night at the Soweto Theatre by Zuko Collective.

 
Dr Gcina Mhlophe gave the keynote address at the festival’s opening night, which was preceded by the singing of the decolonised national anthem and a rendition of the poem “Water” by poet Koleka Putuma. Mhlophe reminded the audience that, while it is important for us to celebrate young and upcoming artists, it is also important to remember and celebrate those that came before them. She sang and told stories about people like Mariam Tladi and Nokutela Dube and spoke about their role in the development of the arts. Dube was the first wife of Reverend John Langalibalele Dube who was the first President General of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which was later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).

 
The festival ended with a sold-out event at the Soweto Theatre that featured a discussion on “Native Life in 2016” between Chigumadzi and I’solezwe LesiXhosa editor Unathi Kondile, facilitated by Mashile; a performance by Zuko Collective; and a Literary Crossroads session with Unigwe, facilitated by Ndumiso Ngcobo.
 

* * * * *

The hashtag #AbantuBookFest was on fire for the duration of the festival and long afterwards:


 
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2 South African authors win the 2016 Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s books

2016 Golden Baobab Prize winners and shortlist announced

 
Alert! Golden Baobab has announced the winners of the 7th edition of the Golden Baobab Prize.

Established in July 2008, the Golden Baobab Prize is often referred to as the “African Newbery Prize”, and is a prestigious award in the African children’s literature industry. Its aim is to support the development of children’s books by African writers and illustrators.

2016 Golden Baobab Prize winners and shortlist announced

 
The Prize invites entries of unpublished stories and illustrations created by African citizens irrespective of age, race, or country of origin. The Prize is organized by Golden Baobab, a Ghana-based pan-African NGO dedicated to “creating a world filled with wonder and possibilities for children, one African story at a time”.

The organisation’s advisory board includes renowned authors Ama Ata Aidoo and Maya Ajmera.

The Golden Baobab Prize received over 150 stories from 11 African countries this year. Submissions were judged by a jury from diverse backgrounds who brought nearly 100 years of collective experience in children’s literature to the selection of the 2016 winners and finalists.

The winning stories of the 2016 Golden Baobab Prize are:

  • Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books: The Ama-zings! by Lori-Ann Preston (South Africa)
  • Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books: Kita and the Red, Dusty Road by Vennessa Scholtz (South Africa)

The winner of each Golden Baobab Prize receives a cash prize of US$5,000 (about R70,300) and a guaranteed publishing contract.

Those shortlisted were:

2016 Golden Baobab Prize winners and shortlist announced

 
The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books

  • Maya and the Finish Line by Ayo Oyeku (Nigeria)
  • Lights and Freedom by Khethiwe Mndawe (South Africa)

The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books

  • A Dark Night for Wishes by Kai Tuomi (South Africa)
  • Mr Cocka-Rocka-Roo by Lori-Ann Preston (South Africa)

Golden Baobab Executive Director Deborah Ahenkorah Osei-Agyekum said:

For the past seven years, The Golden Baobab Prize has focused on delivering a quality annual literature prize that raises awareness about the need for more African literature for children. Now, the Prize is excited to enter a new phase where we will focus heavily on setting up more publishing partnerships and opportunities for our writers to get more African books into the hands of children. For the first time, this year’s winning stories are guaranteed a publishing contract. The longlist also receives publishing services from Golden Baobab that will connect their stories to leading African and international publishers.

Congratulations to the winners – and those shortlisted.


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Read an excerpt from Lake of Memories – the new book in Bontle Senne’s Afrocentric fantasy adventure series

Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories Cover2Cover Books has shared an excerpt from Bontle Senne’s new book, Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories.

The book is the follow-up to Powers of the Knife, and part of the Shadow Chasers series, a contemporary Afrocentric fantasy adventure series.

The book will be launched on Saturday, 26 November at Skoobs Theatre of Books at Montecasino, when Senne will be chatting to Pamela Power.

“I’ve never been one to buy into the ‘Africans don’t want to read’ hype,” Senne said in a recent interview.

“I’m not saying that there isn’t a huge challenge for trade publishers and booksellers in South Africa. There is, of course. But the absence of relevant, engaging, local and accessible literature is something that is improving pretty slowly.”

* * * * *

 
Read an extract from Chapter 3 of the book:

They knock on the door and hear Gogo’s voice telling them to come in. As they enter the candle-lit room, they see that Gogo is already in bed.

“Zithembe, Nomthandazo,” Gogo says with her eyes closed. “I thought you would come.”

“You did?” Nom blurts out.

“Yes. You see, many years ago I was one of the Bhekizizwe, a Shadow Chaser. Just like you. I know why you are here,” she says. “You want Zithembe’s knife. You want to use it to get into the dreamworld, where the Army of Shadows lives, and rescue his mother. You will need to find her knife to do so. But I cannot help you. The Army of Shadows is too dangerous and powerful now.”

“But they have Mama,” Zithembe blurts out. “I have to rescue her, Gogo. She’s been trapped in the dreamworld for years.”

Gogo’s eyes snap open. She stares at Zithembe, her lips pressed tight, before whispering, “Do you think I haven’t thought about rescuing her? Itumeleng is my daughter! I have prayed every night for her.”

“But the war against the Army is bigger than one person or one Shadow Chaser, even if she is my only child,” Gogo continues. “Itumeleng knows this, and if she was here, she would agree with me: you must stay out of this fight, Zithembe.”

Zithembe goes to this grandmother’s side, kneels besides the bed and takes her hand. “Please, Gogo,” he pleads. “Where is my knife?”

Gog pulls her hand away from Zithembe and rolls over, away from him, to face the wall.

“I am an old woman,” she says. “I have forgotten where the knife is. Now leave me. I want to sleep.”

Zithembe stands and steps back, unsure of what to do next. But Nom walks straight towards Gogo.

“That’s it?” Nom says.

“Nom!” Zithembe says, as if he is warning her – or scolding her. He tries to grab her arm to drag her out of the rondavel, but she pulls away from him.

“No, I don’t care about being respectful. This is a war!” Nom says, folding her arms. “I know you know where the knife is, Gogo. Please, you have to tell us!”

“How dare you! Gogo does not take orders from children,” says a voice from the door.

Zithembe and Nom whip around to see Zithembe’s cousin, Rosy, standing in the doorway with both hands on her hips.

“Gogo is right,” says Rosy as she walks into the room. “This is not a game. The Army of Shadows is dangerous, and you two are too young to be in a war with monsters.”

Nom rolls her eyes. “How old are you?’ she asks. “Thirty-five?”

“I’m fifteen. I’m old enough to take Gogo’s knife as my own. I’m old enough to be a real Shadow Chaser. Twelve is too young – you are too young,” Rosy says, kneeling beside Gogo’s bed. The sleeves of her dress are long, but Nom thinks she sees a flash of an angry yellow scar on Rosy’s arm. “You heard what Gogo said,” Rosy continues. “Get out.”

Nom is about to start a real fight, but Zithembe is faster than her this time. He grabs her arm and drags her out of the rondavel.

“You can’t just – ,” Nom begins to argue, but Zithembe puts a hand over her mouth and a finger to his lips. He points towards the back of the rondavel and pulls Nom with him as he sneaks into the shadows. They crouch in the weeds and nettles underneath an open window. Rosy’s voice drifts to them in an urgent whisper.

“… an evil water spirit that calls itself Mami Wata. Gogo, I believe that the Army has sent Mami Wata to tear apart the village in search of the knife.”

There is a pause before Zithembe’s grandmother says, “I wish I could remember where Zithembe’s knife is. If I could remember, I would hide the knife again, somewhere new, somewhere no one could find it. But for now, you must protect the village. And we must keep Zithembe and Nomthandazo safe until they are old enough to fight.”

“Yes, Gogo,” agrees Rosy.

“Go to the beach and attack just before midnight tonight. Your knife will be the light to guide the way and open the door to send this monster back to the dreamworld. Good luck, ngane yam. Be safe,” says Gogo.

 
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African kids are hungry for relevant, local books – Read an interview with Bontle Senne, author of Lake of Memories

Bontle Senne
Shadow Chasers Book 1: Powers of the KnifeShadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories

 
Bontle Senne, author of the Shadow Chasers series, chats about stampeding children, bullies, academic dissertations and things that go bump in the dark ..

Senne’s latest deliciously creepy book for tweens is now out – look out for Lake of Memories, Book 2 in the Shadow Chasers series.

 

Bontle, you describe yourself as a literacy activist – and you’re now a published author – has anything shifted for you since publishing your own book?

I’ve never been one to buy into the “Africans don’t want to read” hype. I’m not saying that there isn’t a huge challenge for trade publishers and booksellers in South Africa. There is, of course. But the absence of relevant, engaging, local and accessible literature is something that is improving pretty slowly.

My former life at Puku Children’s Literature Foundation taught me that parents are especially hungry for those kind of books for their children. What surprised me when Shadow Chasers came out was how hungry kids are for that change. I spoke to five year olds at Kingsmead Book Fair, shooting apologetic looks at their parents for the nightmares I was afraid I was causing. I spoke to matrics in their last year of school and trying to do everything they could to get me to keep reading to them and postpone going back to class as part of Franschhoek Literary Festival. I spoke at St Dominic’s School for the Deaf, aided by an incredible sign language interpreter, for the full school and their teachers. Every time I was amazed by how children of different ages got caught up in the story, how they begged me to keep reading, how they stampeded their librarian to find out when they would have the book.

Part of it must have been the novelty – a story set in a township, an adventure between a taxi owner’s boss and the orphan who lives on her dad’s property, a girl who doesn’t care that she’s not pretty and a mystery that spans back generations. And let’s not forget about the supernatural elements: I had a great time trawling through academic texts and dissertations, some almost 100 years old, describing the myths and monsters that our children should know but that most of our urban society has forgotten. South African children know to be scared of vampires and werewolves but would laugh at the idea of the tokoloshe and blink in confusion at the mention of Mami Wata. Things that go bump in the night are as much a part of our heritage as art, music, language and I was glad to discover that kids think so too.

What does literary success look like to you?

I got asked this question at Open Book and in a sense, I already have it. All I wanted was to have my book-babies out in the world for children to read and enjoy. I wanted to write about and be able to travel the world and talk about other people’s books and I’ve done a fair bit of that too in the last five years. But the more practical part of me also recognises that being able to financially support myself entirely as a writer is the ultimate literary success – and one that not many African writers get to experience unfortunately.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Research for Book 2 involved rewatching every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reading a lot of academic texts on monsters and rituals across the continent. I also try to ask adults about the supernatural stories that their grandmothers told them as children. When I was media fellow of Golden Baobab in 2014, I wrote about the sense of loss I felt at the stories about my culture and (supernatural) heritage that my grandmother never shared with me because they seemed to have no place in my formal or informal education in her mind. I’m still pretty bleak about it.

I spent six months in Sierra Leone last year so there was also a fair bit of trying to understand what local myths I could dig up and rework into Lake of Memories. I wasn’t very successful. As it turns out, many in Sierra Leone are incredibly superstitious and viewed chatting to me about terrible, dark, and maybe magical things as highly inappropriate.

What were the most surprising things you learned after Book 1 was released?

I often read the first chapter of my book when I do events. In it, my main character Nom gets surrounded by some bullies and fights back. Most kids in the audience love it but there’s always that one, pure soul who reminds me that “it’s not nice to hit anyone or call them ugly”. I always agree that that’s true and then get asked why I wrote about it then. I wrote it to establish that Nom was a character who could stand up to bullies even if she wanted to cry as much as she wanted to punch someone being mean to her. I also wanted to write about the subtlety of bullying someone by attacking their self-esteem, how words could be more damaging than fists and how unexpected people can stand up for you but you have to be willing to fight for yourself.

Inevitably I’m asked if I was bullied at school. I was tall and gangly like a weed with braces and glasses and literally all I wanted to do was read so, yeah, I definitely got bullied. Didn’t get to punch anyone until years later though, but that’s a story for another time …

 
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2016 South African Literary Awards nominees revealed

Dit kom van ver afKarnaval en lentShirley, Goodness & MercyEggs to Lay, Chickens to HatchVry-Bumper CarsBeyond TouchPruimtwak en skaduboksersUnSettled and Other StoriesFlame in the SnowHalfpad een ding’n Huis vir EsterEsther's HouseVlakwaterIt Might Get LoudBuys – ’n GrensromanThe Violent Gestures of LifeSweet MedicineKamphoerWhat If There Were No Whites In South Africa?Donker stroomAskari

 
Alert! The shortlists for the 2016 South African Literary Awards have been announced.

18 authors from a total of 132 submissions have been shortlisted and the winners will be announced on Monday, 7 November, at a prestigious function at Unisa.

On the same day, wRite Associates will host the fifth Africa Century International African Writers Conference, before the ceremony. This year, the SALAs have partnered with the Unisa Department of English Studies in delivering both the awards ceremony and the Conference.

The SALAs were founded in 2005 by wRite Associates and the Department of Arts and Culture.

This year, the awards will honour the memory of TT Cloete and Chris van Wyk with Posthumous Literary Awards, while Ingrid Winterbach and Professor Johan Lenake are nominated for Lifetime Achievement Literary Awards.

The SALA Adjudication Panel said:

We are excited that South African literature continues to flourish, with many young writers coming into the scene, sharing platforms with their more established and experienced counterparts, however, we are saddened and concerned that we still see less and less of works written in African languages.

Going forward, the SALA Adjudication Panel recommends literary workshops and symposia with stakeholders, especially writers, publishers and editors, to address concerns regarding the standard and quality of some of the work, especially in African languages, that SALA has been receiving over time. This would be in line with one of the objectives of SALA, ‘to promote and preserve all our languages’.

We congratulate the 2016 nominees for their sterling work and keeping South Africa’s literary heritage alive.

The SALAs aim to “pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as groundbreaking producers and creators of literature”, as well as to “celebrate literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems and philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the languages of South Africa, particularly the official languages”.

The 2016 South African Literary Awards nominees:

Posthumous Literary Award

TT Cloete – Body of work
Chris van Wyk – Body of work

Poetry Award

Gilbert Gibson, Vry-
Athol Williams, Bumper Cars
Arja Salafranca, Beyond Touch

Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award

Danie Marais, Pruimtwak en skaduboksers
Sandra Hill, UnSettled and Other Stories

Literary Translators Award

Leon de Kock and Karin Schimke, Flame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink and Ingrid Jonker
Zirk van den Berg, Halfpad een ding
Kirby van der Merwe, ’n Huis vir Ester

Lifetime Achievement Literary Award

Ingrid Winterbach – Body of work
Prof Johan Lenake – Body of work

K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

Willem Anker, Buys – ’n Grensroman
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho, The Violent Gestures of Life
Panashe Chigumadzi, Sweet Medicine

First-time Published Author Award

Francois Smith, Kamphoer
Ferial Haffajee, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

Creative Non-Fiction Award

Carel van der Merwe, Donker stroom
Jacob Dlamini, Askari

Chairperson’s Award

Recipient to be announced at the Award Ceremony – Body of work

Ends

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