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Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category

“I Don’t Bite My Tongue in this Book” – Hugh Masekela Signs with Jacana for the Local Release of His “Lost” Memoir

Hugh Masekela and his daughter and manager

 
Jazz legend Hugh Masekela was in the Jacana Media offices this afternoon to sign the contract for the local publication of his memoir, Still Grazing, which came out internationally in 2004 but was never released in South Africa.

Hugh Masekela and Jacana MD Bridget ImpeyMasekela said he believes South African society has become complacent since the time of Steve Biko and other young intellectuals of the apartheid era, and hopes that his book can stand as an example of the forthrightness needed to turn the country around.

“In 1990, when all the apartheid laws were dropped, we were probably one of the most intelligent societies in the world,” he said. “Since then, I think we have become dumbed down, not by freedom itself but by the hype that we are free now.

“I don’t bite my tongue in this book,” he said, adding to Impey: “I hope you have some bail money for me …”

“We’ll sell loads of copies of the book, and use that money,” she joked.

The book was first released in 2004, but disappeared more or less without a trace, much to the consternation of Masekela’s fans.

The mock-ups for the cover of Still Grazing by Hugh Masekela“The way it came to South Africa, which is the only country where it went out of print, is because when I was signed to Sony Records, the head of Sony at the time was smart enough to agree to buy a whole consignment from Random House, and I twisted Exclusive Books’ arm to bring it into the country,” Masekela explained. “So they brought in a limited amount, but you can’t find it now anywhere. In the States, they just put it out there, they didn’t do anything else. So it’s one of the world’s biggest secrets outside of South Africa – and in South Africa.

“But no matter where we go, people ask ‘Where can I buy the book? I’ve tried Amazon, I’ve tried Mississippi, I’ve tried the Nile River …’

“So we’re happy that Jacana elected to release it.”

Masekela is currently writing an update to the book, as the original version ended in 2002. However, he explained how a large chunk was recently stolen from a train – in Europe.

“I had about 56 pages of what I’ve been writing,” he said. “But I just came back yesterday from a European tour, and we were on a train after a concert in Frankfurt, in first class, eight of us, and we were very relaxed – this was a luxury train – but when we got to Paris my suitcase was not there. I got very homesick right away,” he joked.

“I lost 56 pages, my expensive pairs of shoes, three of my favourite ties, my lint remover – the things I miss most!

“So my advice to you is when you travel, don’t use an expensive suitcase. This is what I discovered after 60 years of travelling.”

Despite the setback, Jacana MD Bridget Impey is confident of a late October publication date.

All copies of the first print run will include Masekela’s latest CD, Playing @ Work.

Hugh Masekela with employees of Jacana Media, friends and business associates

 
About the book

Hugh Masekela is a prodigiously talented giant of jazz and world music, and a pioneer in sharing the voice and spirit of South Africa with the rest of the world, but his globetrotting tale transcends music.

First published in the USA in 2004, this autobiography shares with rich detail Masekela’s life, infused with love and loss, sex and drugs, exile and revolution. He survived it all, with wit, passion, abundant talent and wisdom, and is now bringing his story back home!

A new foreword and afterword to his autobiography will add fresh insights into the life of one of today’s few living world-class artists and rare spirits.

Still Grazing narrates a magical journey around the world in this epic, music-soaked tale of love, excess, exile and home.

Masekela’s life began in a South Africa haunted by violence, but redeemed by the consolations of family, music and adventure. As the grip of apartheid tightened, he was driven into exile and embarked on what would become a 30-year pilgrimage around the world. His first stop was New York City, where he was adopted by legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Harry Belafonte. Masekela lived through some of the most vital and colourful music scenes of our time: blowing with bebop greats in New York, playing with a young Bob Marley in Jamaica, hanging out with Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone in the 60s, and getting lost in the madness of Fela’s Afropop explosion in Lagos. He loved extravagantly, and was married to Miriam Makeba for some time, experimented wildly with drugs and alcohol, and stumbled into adventure after adventure. And through the hit musical Sarafina (which he conceived with Mbongeni Ngema), the Graceland tour he spearheaded with Paul Simon, and his fearless on-the-ground activism, he worked tirelessly to add his voice to the anti-apartheid movement. When he eventually returned to South Africa, he at last found the strength to confront the personal demons that had tracked him around the world, and attained a new measure of peace at home.

Unfolding against the backbeat of the most revolutionary musical movements of the last forty years and one of the most inspiring political transformations of the twentieth century, this is the utterly engrossing and deeply effecting chronicle of a remarkable, one-of-a-kind life.


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7 Sunday Reads, Including 17 Novels You Can Read in One Sitting

1. Haruki Murakami: the moment I knew I would be a novelist

From The Telegraph: As Haruki Murakami’s early ‘kitchen-table novels’ are published in English for the first time, he reveals how a baseball game – and a wounded pigeon – changed the course of his life.

2. 17 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting

From Electric Literature: It’s immensely satisfying to finish a book in a single day, so in the spirit of celebrating quick reads here are some of my favorite short novels. I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious titles that are regularly assigned in school (The Stranger, Heart of Darkness, Mrs Dalloway, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, The Crying of Lot 49, etc.). Hopefully you’ll find some titles here you haven’t read before.

3. Weekend magazine short story special 2015

From The Guardian: Seven new stories from writers including Will Self, Dave Eggers and Sheila Heti.

5. The Art of Fiction No. 94, EL Doctorow interviewed by George Plimpton

From The Paris Review: At first meeting, Doctorow gives the impression of being somewhat retiring in manner. Yet, though his voice is soft, it is distinctive and demands attention.

6. Monkeys by Clarice Lispector

Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, who died in 1977, has been described as the most important Jewish writer since Franz Kafka. Read a newly translated story from the Guernica/PEN Flash series.

7. Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Should Not Have Been Published by William Giraldi

From The New Republic: Ponderous and lurching, haltingly confected, the novel plods along in search of a plot, tranquilizes you with vast fallow patches, with deadening dead zones, with onslaughts of cliché and dialogue made of pamphleteering monologue or else eye-rolling chitchat.


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The Local Books to Look Forward to in 2015 (July – December)

The Local Books to Look Forward to in 2015 (July – Dec)

 
The second half of the year is well underway, so take a look at what lies in store, books-wise, until December.

Fiction fans have a lot to look forward to, with new novels from Fiona Snyckers, Deon Meyer, Wilbur Smith, Kathryn White, Alexander McCall Smith, Justin Cartwright and Zakes Mda, as well as eagerly anticipated second novels from Claire Robertson and HJ Golakai.

Fans of speculative fiction should look out for Tracer, the debut novel from Rob Boffard, and the new SL Grey, Under Ground.

There’s also quite a lot happening on the poetry front, with a new collection from Lesego Rampolokeng and the launch of the uHlanga New Poets series, starting with collections by Genna Gardini and Thabo Jijana.

Herman Mashaba’s Capitalist Crusader, the follow-up to his bestselling Black Like You, is out in August, and there are exciting new books by Breyten Breytenbach and Moeletsi Mbeki, as well as a collection of never-before-seen letters between André Brink and Ingrid Jonker that is sure to cause some hearts to flutter.

If you think we’ve left something out, feel free to let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Take a look at equivalent story from earlier this year to see if there was anything you missed:

 
 

Note: Covers are subject to change, and information was provided by the publishers
 
 

JULY

The Unknown Van GoghThe Unknown Van Gogh, by Chris Schoeman
Zebra Press
Non-fiction

Much has been written about Vincent van Gogh and his tempestuous relationship with his brother Theo. But few people know that there was a third Van Gogh brother, Cornelis, who was raised in the Netherlands, but worked, married and died in South Africa.

Chris Schoeman’s biography of Cor van Gogh recreates South Africa in the last decade of the nineteenth century, tells the personal story of this young uitlander, as revealed in his letters, and describes his relationship with his famous brother Vincent. With new insights based on original research, this book is an important addition to South African and world history.

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Incredible JourneyIncredible Journey: Stories that Move You edited by Joanne Hichens
Jacana Media/Burnet Media
Fiction (Short Stories)

The new Short.Sharp.Stories anthology, Incredible Journey, is out now – containing the winning short stories from this year’s Short.Sharp.Stories competition, which were announced in July.

Two Dogs/Mercury will be doing a series of interviews with the winning authors on Books LIVE – check out the first, with Andrew Salomon, here!

As the only regular collection of short fiction writing in South Africa, the Short.Sharp.Stories initiative, published in conjunction with the National Arts Festival, is playing an increasingly important role in the nurturing and development of South African writing talent. Bloody Satisfied and Adults Only were both positively reviewed, and have given widespread exposure to more than 40 local authors.

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HomeHome. Food from My Kitchen, by Sarah Graham
Struik Lifestyle
Non-fiction

Building on the success of her two previous books, and in support of her TV series, Sarah Graham’s Food Safari, Home. Food from My Kitchen encapsulates cooking throughout southern Africa.

Within the standard cookbook format of Brunch, Salads, Soups, Snacks, Meat, Poultry, Pasta, Seafood, Desserts and Baking, Sarah Graham presents food that is simple but beautiful, delicious and healthy.

TracerTracer, by Rob Boffard
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

Rob Boffard is a South African journalist and author who slits his time between London, Vancouver and Johannesburg. Tracer is his first novel.

Sarah Lotz calls Tracer “fast, exhilarating and unforgettable”.

Our planet is in ruins. Three hundred miles above its scarred surface orbits Outer Earth: a space station with a million souls on board. They are all that remains of the human race.

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nullPappa in Doubt, by Anton Kannemeyer
Jacana Media
Art

With Pappa in Doubt, Anton Kannemeyer returns to the fertile land that he explored to brilliant satiric effect in Pappa in Afrika (2010). Once again parodying Herge’s Tintin in the Congo (1931), Kannemeyer exposes the contradictions and paradoxes of life in the postcolony.

The artist is as provocative as he is playful, and does not spare himself the relentless, humorous scrutiny to which he subjects politicians, despots and his neighbours in the leafy suburbs.

Kannemeyer and Conrad Botes founded Bitterkomix as students at Stellenbosch University.

Under GroundUnder Ground, by SL Grey
Pan Macmillan
Fiction

Under Ground is the new high-concept thriller from the combined talents of Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg.

A global outbreak of a virus sends society spinning out of control. But a small group of people have been preparing for a day like this. Grabbing only the essentials, they head to The Sanctum, a luxury self-sustaining underground survival facility where they’ll shut themselves away and wait for the apocalypse to pass.

But when a body is discovered, they realise that the greatest threat to their survival may be trapped in The Sanctum with them.

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A Death in the FamilyA Death in the Family, by Michael Stanley
Fiction

The latest Detective Kubu crime novel from Michael Stanley, A Death in the Family is a must read.

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, both South Africans by birth. Both have worked in academia and business, Sears in South Africa and Trollip in the USA. Their love of watching the wildlife of the African subcontinent has taken them on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe. On one such trip, they had the idea for their first novel, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective Kubu. Kubu has now featured in five novels and a short-story collection.

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AUGUST

Homeless WanderersHomeless Wanderers: Movement and mental illness in the Cape Colony in the nineteenth century by Sally Swartz
UCT Press
Non-fiction

Lunatic asylums in the colonies in the nineteenth century mirrored those of “home”, in Britain. But in a European settler context, the administration and policies of the asylums, and the treatment of their patients, took on many different nuances.

There was a complex interface between lunacy legislation, colonial government, families and communities, and the ways in which these elements affected individuals’ experiences of treatment before and after committal to a lunatic asylum. Homeless Wanderers breaks new ground in tracing the route of people thought to be “of unsound mind” from their homes and families to eventual committal to a lunatic asylum in the Cape Colony in the late nineteenth century.

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nullA Half Century Thing by Lesego Rampolokeng
Black Ghost Books
Poetry

Lesego Rampolokeng will be launching his eighth collection of poetry, A Half Century Thing, on Saturday, 1 August, as he celebrates his 50th birthday.

The publication comes 25 years after his debut, Horns for Hondo. His most recent collection is Head on Fire: Rants / Notes / Poems 2001-2011.

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Hour of DarknessHour of Darkness, by Michéle Rowe
Penguin Books
Fiction

A page-turner from one of South Africa’s exciting new crime novelists. Readers familiar with Michéle Rowe’s exhilarating plot twists and authentic South African characters will love her latest spine-chilling thriller.

Hour of Darkness sees the return of Rowe’s popular Detective Percy Jonas, who has to investigate a series of child abductions that evoke her own childhood abandonment.

What Hidden Lies, Rowe’s first crime novel, won the 2011 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award.

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The Seed ThiefThe Seed Thief, by Jacqui L’Ange
Umuzi
Fiction

The debut novel from Jacqui L’Ange, The Seed Thief is an entrancing and richly imagined modern love story with an ancient history, a tale that moves from flora of Table Mountain to the heart of Afro-Brazilian spiritualism.

L’Ange was born in Durban and grew up across five continents. She has worked in advertising, television, film, and multimedia over the past 20 years, and has a MA in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. She is also the author of the children’s book Miss Helen’s Magical World.

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Signs for an ExhibitionSigns for an Exhibition by Eliza Kentridge
Modjaji Books
Poetry

Eliza Kentridge’s poems are autobiographical. She was born in Johannesburg shortly after her father defended Nelson Mandela in the Treason Trial. She was a teenager when he represented Steve Biko’s family at his inquest. In her twenties, at the height of apartheid, she left South Africa for England. Against this dramatic backdrop, her focus is quieted, small and interior. With her mother now afflicted by a serious neurological illness, she writes about family, love and place, as a woman who vividly recalls her girlhood self, gently and almost incidentally approaching one of the biggest questions: how does one live a life?

Real Food - Healthy, Happy ChildrenReal Food – Healthy, Happy Children by Kath Megaw, Daisy Jones, Phillippa Cheifitz and Jane-Anne Hobbs
Quivertree
Non-fiction

Sustained energy? Check. Reduced sugar cravings? Check. Improved concentration? Check.

Check-marks, too, for: increased health and vitality, enhanced athletic performance, longer and deeper sleep, improved digestion, strategies for fussy eaters, and helping your child reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

All these topics are addressed by South Africa’s leading paediatric dietician Kath Megaw in Real Food – Healthy, Happy Children, Co-written with Daisy Jones, Phillippa Cheifitz and Jane-Anne Hobbs. Set to be released in August this year, the book offers a low-carb solution for the whole family – with recipes for moms, dads and kids of all ages.

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nullThe Low-Carb Solution for Diabetics, by Vickie de Beer and Kath Megaw
Quivertree
Non-fiction

A book that marries science with good sentiment, strategies with real solutions, The Low-Carb Solution for Diabetics is an invaluable guide to understanding and practically managing Type-1 diabetes.

Beyond the science of diabetes and the advice of both Vickie and Kath lies a fantastic low-carb cookbook with meals that the whole family can enjoy.

Focusing on a move to healthy, natural food shared in a loving family environment, The Low-Carb Solution for Diabetics is an inspiration. It’s not about what’s ‘allowed’, it’s about what’s healthy – for diabetic children and their families.

Capitalist CrusaderCapitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth by Herman Mashaba and Isabella Morris
Bookstorm
Non-fiction

The much anticipated follow-up to Herman Mashaba’s bestselling Black Like You, in which self-made entrepreneur Herman Mashaba outlines his crusade for economic freedom for all South Africans.

Mashaba suggests concrete macroeconomic solutions to South Africa’s poverty crisis, deftly combining biography, politics and business.

nullDeliberate Concealment: An Insider’s Account of Cricket South Africa
and the IPL Bonus Saga
, Mtutuzeli Nyoka

Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction

In 2008, Mtutuzeli Nyoka was appointed as the President of Cricket South Africa (CSA), a position he held until October 2011 when, after a protracted battle with the CSA board, he was dismissed.

In Deliberate Concealment, Nyoka shares his behind-the-scenes experiences and personal journey as events unfolded, including his own mistakes, the repercussions of the scandal on the game of cricket in South Africa, and his fight for the truth to prevail.

The Democratic Republic of BraaiThe Democratic Republic of Braai by Jan Braai
Bookstorm
Non-fiction

Over 60 000 Jan Braai books have been sold – from South Africa to the USA and the Czech Republic! Jan Braai is a South African phenomenon – he started Braai Day in 2005 and the day has grown from strength to strength.

It is your democratic right to gather with friends and family around braai fires throughout the country and celebrate with a meal cooked over the coals of a real wood fire. This is the promise of Jan Braai’s Democratic Republic of Braai.

Raising SuperheroesRaising Superheroes, by Tim Noakes, Jonno Proudfoot and Bridget Surtees
Jacana Media
Non-fiction

Jacana Media will be distributing the latest book published by the Real Meal Team. Raising Superheroes, by Tim Noakes, Jonno Proudfoot and Bridget Surtees will revolutionise the way you feed your kids.

The Real Meal Revolution was all about taking on the global obesity epidemic with a revolutionary approach to eating; it challenged ingrained beliefs, it sold (and still sells) in record-breaking numbers throughout South Africa, and it changed people’s lives.

With Raising Superheroes the authors have now set out to revolutionise the way we feed our children. It’s time, they believe, to challenge the kids’ food industry and our old assumptions; it’s time to give our children the best nutrition possible, and the best start in life.

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Rape UnresolvedRape Unresolved: Policing sexual offences in South Africa by Dee Smythe
UCT Press
Non-fiction

More than 1 000 women are raped in South Africa every day. Around 150 of those women will report the crime to the police. Fewer than 30 of the cases will be prosecuted and no more than 10 will result in a conviction.

Rape Unresolved is concerned with the question of police discretion and how its exercise shapes the criminal justice response to rape in South Africa.

Agent 407Agent 407: A South African Spy Tells Her Story, by Olivia Forsyth
Jonathan Ball
Non-fiction

Olivia Forsyth was a Lieutenant in the South Africa Security Police in the 1980s. She spent four years at Rhodes University where she infiltrated various anti-apartheid organisations.

Having reached the end of her studies, she turned her attention to the ANC in exile. But what should have been her greatest triumph as a spy turned into disaster when the ANC threw her into Quatro, the notorious internment camp in Angola.

Here, for the first time, South Africa’s most notorious apartheid spy lays bare the story of her remarkable life.

IcarusIcarus, by Deon Meyer
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

The new novel from South Africa’s leading crime writer, featuring his much loved detective Benny Griessel.

After 602 days dry, Captain Benny Griessel of the South African police services can’t take any more tragedy. So when he is called in to investigate a multiple homicide, it pushes him close to breaking point – a former friend and detective colleague has shot his wife and two daughters, then killed himself. Benny wants out – out of his job, his home and his relationship with his singer girlfriend, Alexa. He moves into a hotel and starts drinking. Again.

nullDagga: A Short History, by Hazel Crampton
Jacana Media
Non-fiction

This book is not intended as a comprehensive take on dagga, aka cannabis, marijuana, bhanga, ganga, pot, zol, weed, etc., but as a conversation piece. It is, as a pocket book, simply a brief overview. Its hope is to provide a background to dagga in South Africa and, by putting all the dope into one joint, so to speak, ignite debate on emerging issues such as licensing, legalisation and taxation.

Hazel Crampton is the author of The Sunburnt Queen (2004) and The Side of the Sun at Noon (2014), and was coeditor of Into the Hitherto Unknown: Ensign Beutler’s Expedition to the Eastern Cape, 1752 (2013).

nullRape – A South African Nightmare, by Pumla Dineo Gqola
Jacana Media
Non-fiction

South Africa has a complex relationship with rape. Pumla Dineo Gqola unpacks this relationship by paying attention to patterns and trends of rape, asking what we can learn from famous cases and why South Africa is losing the battle against rape.

Gqola looks at the 2006 rape trial of Jacob Zuma and what transpired in the trial itself, as well as trying to make sense of public responses to it. She interrogates feminist responses to the Anene Booysen case, among other high profile cases of gender-based violence.

This is a conclusive book about rape in South Africa, illuminating aspects of the problem and contributing to shifting the conversation forward.

nullThe Black Sash, by Mary Burton
Jacana Media
Non-fiction

This is the story of a remarkable organisation of white South African women who carved out a unique role for themselves in opposing the injustices of apartheid and working towards a free and democratic country.

It is written by Mary Burton, herself national president of the Black Sash for many years and, later, one of the Truth and Reconciliation commissioners.

nullThe Refined Player: Sex, Lies and Dates, by Stevel Marc
Jacana Media
Non-fiction

The Refined Player: Sex, Lies and Dates is the first publication under Jacana’s exciting new imprint, BlackBird Books.

The book not only helps men to understand their role in relationships, but it also inspires women to be empowered and to expect and demand better from their men.

Stevel shows us that it is possible to have those difficult conversations about money, sex, honesty and trust. With Stevel’s help you can transition from singlehood into a meaningful relationship.

Lusaka Punk and Other StoriesLusaka Punk and Other Stories
Jacana Media
Fiction (Short Stories)

Now entering its 16th year, the Caine Prize is Africa’s leading literary prize, and is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere.

This collection brings together the five 2015 shortlisted stories, along with stories written at the Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop, which took place in Ghana in April 2015.

Zambia’s Namwali Serpell won the 2015 Caine Prize for her short story entitled “The Sack” from Africa39 (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).

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Stoked!Stoked! by Chris Bertish
Zebra Press
Non-fiction (Biography)

Stoked! is an inspiring true story about courage, determination and the power of dreams. Chris Bertish was a skinny little kid from Cape Town when he started surfing with his brothers. Fiercely driven and constantly pushing his boundaries, Chris was not content with conquering “ordinary” big waves. What began as a personal quest to prove to himself that he was one of the best in the ‘big-wave brotherhood’ culminated a decade later with Chris being crowned South Africa’s first Mavericks BigWave Champion.

With his infectious enthusiasm, Chris tells how he pulled off death-defying antics time and again, overcame overwhelming obstacles and fears, and parried every blow that fate dealt him, all without ever losing faith or focus on his dreams.

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True Blue Superglue by Jenny Hobbs
Umuzi
Fiction

In the 1950s it was important to please your man. As the twentieth century wore on, it became more important to please yourself …

Following the lives of Anne and Doug Perceval, from big-dreaming students to strung-out parents to a couple at the end of their tether, True Blue Superglue is a love story with a sting in its tale that moves from South Africa to swinging London and back home again.

Witty and poignant, Jenny Hobbs’s novel is also a tribute to a life lived as a woman in changing times.

 
 
SEPTEMBER

Tribe, by Rahla Xenopoulos
Umuzi
Fiction

Ibiza, 1997: a period of drug-taking, dancing and hedonism forges an unbreakable bond between six friends, and “the Tribe” is formed. Their dependence on one another deepens as the years pass, but when Jude overdoses and almost dies, his wife, Tselane, makes a decision that breaks up the Tribe.

12 years later, after Jude attempts suicide, the group decides to reunite …

A compelling story of friendship, love and life, Tribe is Rahla Xenopoulos’ third book. She is the author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, her personal account of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the novel Bubbles.

IcarusThe Magistrate of Gower, by Claire Robertson
Umuzi
Fiction

The new novel from Claire Robertson, who won the 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize for The Spiral House.

When an illicit affair in British Ceylon comes to light in 1902, 17-year-old Boer prisoner-of-war Henry Vos is disgraced. Months before, a short film made his face widely recognisable, but now he is shunned by Boer and Brit alike. Three decades later, Henry is the magistrate of Gower …

Impeccably written and researched, The Magistrate of Gower is a sweeping, exquisitely told story about the courage to choose love over fear.

nullThe Shouting in the Dark, by Elleke Boehmer
Jacana Media
Fiction

Ella is locked in a battle for creative survival with her domineering father, and apartheid South Africa, the troubled country in which he passionately believes. While seeking political refuge in Europe, Ella makes an unexpected discovery that forces her to confront both her father’s war ghosts and the shape of her own future. In the country of his birth, her father, Ella finds, never officially recognised her existence. Boehmer has written a raw, intense and involving story.

“The story, as disturbing as it is enthralling, of a girl’s struggle to emerge from under the dead weight of her father’s oppression while at the same time searching for a secure footing in the moral chaos of South Africa of the apartheid era.” – JM Coetzee

Elleke Boehmer is the author of, among other books, Screens against the Sky (short-listed David Hyam Prize, 1990), Bloodlines (shortlisted SANLAM prize) and an edition of Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys that was a 2004 summer bestseller. Her acclaimed biography of Nelson Mandela (2008) has been translated into Arabic, Malaysian, Thai, Kurdish, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. She is a judge of the Man Booker International Prize 2015 and lives in London.

Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking DangerouslyAnna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously, by Kathryn White
Umuzi
Fiction

Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously is the new novel from Kathryn White, author of Emily Green and Me and Things I Thought I Knew.

Anna Peters has been dumped by her long-term love, Garry, and needs to figure out what to do with her broken heart. Tackling her misery by trying to cook her way back into her beau’s life, she learns a few things …

Witty, irreverent and highly entertaining, with food descriptions will have readers salivating, Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously will appeal to readers of popular fiction and romantic novels as well as aspiring chefs.

nullTwo, by Seline and Leandri van der Wat
Struik Lifestyle
Non-fiction

During the screening of the MasterChef South Africa 2013 series, TV viewers were both fascinated by, and impressed with, the Van der Wat sisters. Since then their foodie careers have taken off, albeit in differing directions.

But in Two, they are back in collaboration to present a really fascinating cookbook concept: taking the same main ingredient and creating two different
dishes from it, or taking a classic recipe and making one for family and casual dining, and the other version to impress for serious entertaining.

Diane AwerbuckHelen MoffettStray, edited by Diane Awerbuck and Helen Moffett
Modjaji Books
Fiction (Short Stories and Poetry)

A collection of stories and poems by mostly well-known South African writers. Some of the pieces have been previously published, and others are new. Each story and poem explores different ways in which animals and humans live together, co-exist and change each other.

List of writers includes: Arthur Attwell, Diane Awerbuck Gabeba Baderoon, Robert Berold, Margaret Clough, Mike Cope, Colleen Crawford-Cousins, Gail Dendy, Richard de Nooy, Isobel Dixon, Nerine Dorman, Finuala Dowling, Tom Eaton, Justin Fox,Damon Galgut, Robyn Goss, Michiel Heyns, Colleen Higgs, Jenny Hobbs, Liesl Jobson, Rustum Kozain, Jacqui L’Ange, Sarah Lotz, Sindiwe Magona, Siphiwo Mahala, Julia Martin, Joan Metelerkamp, Niq Mhlongo, Thando Mgqolozana, Helen Moffett, Mmatshilo Motsei, Paige Nick, SA Partridge, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Bev Rycroft, Alex Smith, Fiona Snyckers, Ivan Vladislavić, Zukiswa Wanner, James Whyle, Makhosazana Xaba.

nullNow Following You, by Fiona Snyckers
Modjaji Books
Fiction

Jamie Burchell is a digital native – social media comes as naturally to her as breathing. She Instagrams, tweets and Facebooks her every move. Then a stalker starts using social media to track her movements. As his behaviour escalates, so does her fear. But her blog has never been more popular. The fans can’t get enough of reading about her stalker. She is closer than ever to achieving her dream of becoming a writer. Should she take herself offline out of fear for her own safety or should she refuse to be intimated? Soon the stalker starts threatening the people she cares about. But now it’s too late for Jamie to go offline, because he is already following her in real life.

nullPiggy Boy’s Blues, by Nakhane Touré
Jacana Media
Fiction

Nakhane Touré’s debut novel is for all intents and purposes a portrait of the M family. Centred mostly on the protagonist, Davide M, and his return to Alice, the town of his birth, the novel portrays a Xhosa royal family past its prime and glory.

Piggy Boy’s Blues will be published under Jacana’s new imprint, BlackBird Books.

Touré is a multimedia artist born in Alice in the Eastern Cape. His album Brave Confusion won a South African Music Award for Best Alternative Album in 2014.

nullSweet Medicine, by Panashe Chigumadzi
Jacana Media
Fiction

Sweet Medicine, set in Harare at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic woes in 2008, is a thorough and evocative attempt at grappling with a variety of important issues in the postcolonial context: tradition and modernity, feminism and patriarchy; spiritual and political freedoms and responsibilities; poverty and desperation; and wealth and abundance.

Panashe Chigumadzi is a young and upcoming media executive, passionate about creating new narratives that work to redefine and reaffirm African identity.

Sweet Medicine will be published under Jacana’s new BlackBird Books imprint.

The Book of MemoryThe Book of Memory, by Petina Gappah
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

The stunning debut novel from the award-winning author of An Elegy for Easterly, a short story collection that won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009.

Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University and the University of Zimbabwe. She will be at the 2015 Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September.

nullInnovation: Shaping South Africa through Science, by Sarah Wild
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction

Sarah Wild is an award-winning science journalist. She is the Mail & Guardian’s science editor and in 2013 was named the best science journalist in Africa. In 2012, Wild published her first full-length non-fiction book, Searching African Skies: The Square Kilometre Array and South Africa’s Quest to Hear the Songs of the Stars.

Innovation takes a look at inventions – developed in South Africa by South Africans – to address issues in the areas of healthcare, energy, environment and industry, showcasing the country’s excellence.

Up Against the NightUp Against the Night, by Justin Cartwright
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

“History . . . is seldom able to convey the essence of being human”

Justin Cartwright possesses that rarest of novelist’s skills – the ability to create fiction which is intensely serious but which also vividly encompasses the absurdity and comedy of life. Up Against the Night is a subtle, brilliant novel about South Africa, its beautiful, superbly evoked landscape, its violent past and its uncertain present.

Notes from the Lost Property Department by Bridget Pitt
Umuzi
Fiction

“The struggle to forget, or not; courage in small things – Bridget Pitt’s new novel has found a voice for wounded memory. It’s a searching voice, evoking from jumbled discards something that perhaps we’ve all lost …. but which might still be found.” – Jeremy Cronin

Notes from the Lost Property Department is a beautifully written, captivating novel about family: mother-daughter relationships, marriage, memory, and familial secrets and lies.

Bridget Pitt’s novel The Unseen Leopard was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize in 2011 and the 2012 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, and her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, among others.

Golden LionGolden Lion, by Wilbur Smith
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

Fans of Wilbur Smith will be delighted to hear that his next book – Golden Lion – will be released across the world in September.

In this sweeping adventure full of danger, action, and intrigue, the master returns to his longest-running series, taking fans back to the very beginnings of the Courtney family saga.

Click here for more

nullLet’s Talk Frankly: Letters to Influential South Africans About the State of Our Nation, by Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, a community activist and a business executive. In a series of letters, addressed to people of influence from Helen Zille to Gwede Mantashe and from Revd Ray McCauley to Steve Hofmeyr, Tabane praises for work well done and castigates for poor judgement.

Let’s Talk Frankly tells some home truths in a satirical sense and is meant to offend sensibilities as well as raise things that people often say around dinner
tables but are too afraid or too constrained to say in the open.

The Woman Who Walked in SunshineThe Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, by Alexander McCall Smith
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

The new Botswana book from bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith, this is Mma Ramotswe’s 16th wonderful adventure.

Mma Ramotswe is not one to sit about. Her busy life gives her little time for relaxation (apart from the drinking of tea, of course, which is another matter altogether). Nonetheless, she is persuaded to take a holiday from the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to follow the cases taken on by her business partner, Mma Makutsi, and to interfere in them – at one remove. This leads her to delve into the past of a man whose reputation has been called into question.

The Food of LoveThe Food of Love: Book 1, Laura’s Story, by Prue Leith
Jonathan Ball
Fiction

The first installment of an epic three-volume multi-generational family saga by award-winning restaurateur Prue Leith.

The novels centre around an Anglo/Italian family that founds a restaurant business, from the 1940s to the present day. Television rights for the series have already been optioned.

Leith was born in South Africa, and is a cook, restaurateur, food writer and businesswoman. After publishing 12 cookbooks she changed tack and has now authored five contemporary romance novels. She lives in London.

nullSugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez, Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman
Penguin
Non-fiction

The fascinating story of the American musician who was famous in South Africa and Australia, but unknown anywhere else … until the Oscar-winning documentary.

Based on the authors’ first-hand knowledge, Sugar Man: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez carefully outlines three separate journeys and the obstacles and triumphs that each presented: Rodriguez’s quest to make a life from music and his subsequent failure; the odyssey of two Rodriguez fans to find out what had happened to their hero; and the pursuit of die-hard filmmaker Bendjelloul to bring the story to celluloid, and his untimely death shortly thereafter.

The book covers topics and events that weren’t included in the film: the story of Rodriquez’s two wives, his tours to Australia in 1979 and 1981, his South African, British and American tours after the 1998 concert that forms the film’s climax, and events subsequent to the film itself.

Taking to the Witness Stand, by Jestina Mukoko
KMM Review Publishing
Non-fiction

Jestina Mukoko is a former Zimbabwean broadcast journalist turned a human rights activist, who was incarcerated in 2008 and “disappeared” by the Zimbabwe government.

Told through flashbacks intertwined with information related to her childhood, her family and her work at the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Mukoko’s recollections give a birds-eye view of the social, economic and political situation during one of the most turbulent and repressive times in Zimbabwe’s history.

nullWhen Time Fails, by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers
Fiction

The follow-up to A Beautiful Family, When Time Fails is set on a farm in South Africa during the death throes of the apartheid era and the emergence of the “new” South Africa.

The book follows Annamari and her family as they struggle to come to terms with a changing world and the past she has kept hidden for decades.

 
 
 
OCTOBER

nullMatric Rage by Genna Gardini
uHlanga New Poets
Poetry

uHlanga is proud to announce the launch of the uHlanga New Poets series, a platform for the publication of debut collections from South Africa’s most promising young voices.

Genna Gardini, based in Cape Town, is one of South Africa’s most decorated young poets and playwrights. She is the winner of the 2012 DALRO/New Coin Award for poetry, and a 2013 Mail & Guardian Young South African. Her plays WinterSweet (2012) and Scrape (2013) both won Standard Bank Ovation Awards at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Supported by a grant from the Arts and Culture Trust, uHlanga New Poets will publish two debut collections in 2015: Matric Rage and Failing Maths and My Other Crimes by Thabo Jijana.

nullFailing Maths and My Other Crimes by Thabo Jijana
uHlanga New Poets
Poetry

Thabo Jijana, based in Port Elizabeth, is a rising star in South African literature. In 2011, he won the Anthony Sampson Foundation Award. In 2014, he won the Sol Plaatje/European Union Poetry Award. That same year, he also published his first book, the memoir Nobody’s Business, published by Jacana.

nullGridlocked, by Moeletsi and Nobantu Mbeki
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction

“The reorganisation of South Africa’s economic system cannot, however, be postponed indefinitely as conflicts in the economic system are already threatening to undo the gains made with the new political system. This should come as no surprise since South Africa’s economic system has always generated major conflicts, many of them extremely violent.” – From Gridlocked

South Africa is immersed in a new phase in the long struggle to develop and consolidate democracy and to build an economy that is both sustainable and serves the needs of its entire people instead of the selfish interests of small elites as has been the case over the past 360 years. Moeletsi and Nobantu Mbeki explore the different dynamics of this reinvention and its chances of success or failure.

nullRecipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery, by Sally Andrew
Umuzi
Fiction

Meet Tannie Maria: She’s 50-something, short and soft (perhaps a bit too soft in the wrong places) with brown curls and untidy Afrikaans. She is also the agony aunt for the local paper, the Klein Karoo Gazette. One day, her life takes a sinister turn when a woman in the area is murdered and she becomes entangled in the investigation…

Warm, poignant and entertaining, Sally Andrew’s delightful heroine blends together intrigue, romance and cooking in this irresistible new mystery, complete with a few mouth-watering recipes.

Recipes for Love and Murder includes 14 tried-and-tested Karoo recipes.

nullGlowfly Dance, by Jade Gibson
Umuzi
Fiction

Glowfly Dance is a lyrical and poignant tale of family trauma, seen through the eyes of a child.

Through young Mai’s eyes, life is enchanting and full of beauty. She dances on her grandfather’s feet while he talks of freedom. But the world is hard and her mother is struggling. When her new stepfather Rashid arrives, he casts a deep shadow over their lives …

From Mexico to Scotland to London to North Africa, the West Indies and back again, Glowfly Dance is a powerful and haunting story of migration, resilience and, ultimately, hope.

Earlier versions of Glowfly Dance were shortlisted for the 2010 Dundee International Book Prize for an unpublished debut novel, and the 2011 Virginia Prize for Fiction.

nullChaka, by Thomas Mofolo
Kwela
Fiction

Thomos Mofolo’s Chaka is the first of many works of literature that take Shaka, the great Zulu leader, as its subject. A mythic retelling of Shaka’s rise and fall, the novel was written in Sesotho in 1909, translated in 1931, and forms the foundation for every subsequent telling of the Shaka legend. Chaka is a study of origins, passion, and uncontrollable ambition leading to the moral destruction of the human character.

nullParole: Collected Speeches, by Breyten Breytenbach
Penguin
Fiction

Breyten Breytenbach is hailed in South Africa and internationally as an influential writer and critical thinker. Parole is a collection of some of his most memorable and poignant speeches, which, through their resonating subject matter, continue to light literary, political and philosophical fires.

The speeches in Parole, many of which have not been published before, will provide valuable insights into the mind of a literary icon. Available in Afrikaans as Parool.

nullI Ran for My Life, by Kabelo Mabalane with Nechama Brodie
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction (Biography)

Kabelo Mabalane, known by his stage name as Kabelo or “Bouga Luv”, is a kwaito musician, songwriter and actor. He was a member of the kwaito trio TKZee.

In I Ran for My Life, South Africa’s number one self-proclaimed “pantsula for life” shares his journey and insights, from the highs and lows of drug addiction, to finding hope and life again through running and staying in shape.

nullCrashed, by Melinda Ferguson
Jacana Media
Non-fiction (Memoir)

To celebrate her 14-year clean and sober birthday, Ferguson organises to take a R3.2 million Ferrari California out on a test drive for the day. 20 minutes before she returns the car, she is involved in a spectacular car crash, during which she experiences a near-death collision.

Over the following months her long-term relationship implodes and she is faced with a litany of legal and financial nightmares as a result of the Ferrari being written off, while certain members of the dog-eat-dog motoring journo industry relish in her downfall.

Written in Ferguson’s trademark gritty tell-it-all and often hilarious style, Crashed is the highly anticipated final book of the three-part memoir trilogy, following in South African bestsellers Smacked (2005) and Hooked (2010).
 
 
NOVEMBER

What if there were no whites in South Africa?, by Ferial Haffajee
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction

In What if there were no whites in South Africa? Ferial Haffajee examines South Africa’s history and its present circumstances and dynamics in the light of a provocative question that yields some thought-provoking analysis for the country.

Ferial Haffajee is highly respected as one of South Africa’s thought leaders and commentators. She effectively uses her media platform to raise and discuss issues pertinent to the state of the nation. Before becoming the editor-in-chief at City Press, Haffajee headed up the Mail & Guardian. She sits on the boards of the International Women’s Media Foundation, the World Editors Forum, the International Press Institute and the Inter Press Service, and she has won several awards, including international ones, related to media freedom and independence as well as for her reporting over the years.

nullFlame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink & Ingrid Jonker, by André Brink & Ingrid Jonker
Umuzi
Non-fiction

More than 50 years on, the poignant, often stormy relationship between Ingrid Jonker and André Brink still grips readers’ imaginations.

In December 2014, three months before his death on 6 February 2015, Brink offered these never-before-seen letters, as well as personal photographs, for publication.

The letters provide astonishing new insights into the minds, writing and legendary love affair of two of South Africa’s greatest writers. Umuzi will be publishing a limited, numbered edition in Afrikaans and in English to coincide with the publication of this collection.

nullKarkloof Blue, by Charlotte Otter
Modjaji Books
Fiction

Greenwashing, corporate intransigence and bloody secrets. Maggie Cloete’s back. After working in Berlin and Joburg, she returns to present-day Pietermaritzburg as the day news editor for The Gazette. When a well-known environmentalist commits suicide, Maggie finds herself caught in the crossfire of conflicting interests. Sentinel, a national paper company, intends to log a piece of natural forest in the Karkloof, home to an endangered butterfly. While her brother joins a group of environmental activists determined to stop the logging at any cost, The Gazette itself is ensnared in complicated negotiations with Sentinel over paper prices. When the loggers unearth a gruesome find in the forest, Maggie discovers a litany of secrets, lies and betrayal. As South Africa’s present confronts its past, Maggie herself faces the most bitter surprise of her life.

nullThe Score, HJ Golakai
Kwela
Fiction

The Score is the follow-up to the internationally acclaimed The Lazarus Effect.

Voinjama Johnson, aka Vee, has been banished. And to Oudtshoorn, of all places … and for what? For daring to do her job, for daring to be an investigative reporter. Luckily for Vee, and her ever-faithful sidekick Chlöe – and unluckily for everyone else – they are barely checked in to their lodge when the first body is discovered. Sex, drugs and BEE (or should that be B-BBEE), The Score is an unflinching romp through what remains of the dream of the rainbow nation …

nullUnnatural Relations, Casey B Dolan
Kwela
Fiction

All psychiatrists have a patient that gets under their skin. For Dr Felicity Sloane, forensic psychiatrist, Archie Ferber is that patient. Archie seemingly only needed one thing to make his life complete – a child. And Hannah was born. But somehow it all went wrong and now Archie is on trial in South Africa for murdering the surrogate. Unnatural Relations is the follow-up to the internationally acclaimed When the Bough Breaks.

nullJustice Served: The Trial and Conviction of Bob Hewitt, Jamaine Krige
Zebra
Non-fiction

The fascinating legal account of how a sporting legend was brought to book by his victims, 30 years later.

In 2012 former Grand Slam tennis champion Bob Hewitt was indefinitely suspended following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from women he coached as girls. On 23 March 2015, Hewitt was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault after a watershed trial.

Jamaine Krige was the court reporter from the start of the trial and has conducted extensive interviews with all the relevant parties.

nullAB: The Autobiography, by AB de Villiers
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction

AB de Villiers is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sporting heroes. He has captained the national ODI team since June 2011, and has been a member of the national team for 11 years since his debut test as a 20-year-old in December 2004. AB has excelled on the sporting field throughout his life and today he is considered one of the leading batsmen in the world in all forms of the game.

AB: The Autobiography will cover key events and influences that have shaped his life and career, and AB will offer access to the man behind the bat and beneath the helmet, exploring career-defining moments, on-and-off the field events and his relationship with various mentors. The autobiography will also explore AB’s interests in music and business and how he pursues these alongside his international cricket career.
 
 
DECEMBER

Zakes MdaLittle Suns, by Zakes Mda
Umuzi
Fiction

Zakes Mda’s new novel, a work of historical fiction titled Little Suns, will be published by Umuzi in 2015.

Little Suns intertwines an unusual love story with little-told, brutal history.

Click here for more
 
 
 
 
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How to be a Writer, Part 3: Nozizwe Cynthia Jele on the Value of Serviettes, Marketing and Asking for Help

Nozizwe Cynthia Jele

 

This is Part 3 in our How to be a Writer series.

Read Parts 1 and 2:

 
Happiness is a Four-Letter WordBooks LIVE chatted to Nozizwe Cynthia Jele to find out when she started writing, why she writes, and how she writes.

See what she had to say:
 
 
At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer? And what did that realisation mean to you?

Nozizwe Cynthia JeleI discovered writing by chance much later in life, sadly not at four. This was during my years of gallivanting. I ended up taking a part-time job at a bookstore. I read plenty then, I remember new books arrived every Tuesday. I also met many authors through launches at our bookstore. Somehow I managed to convince myself that I could also write. So I wrote, and realised I actually enjoyed it.

Can you remember the first story you wrote? What was it for, and how old were you?

Yes, it was a story about a nanny who had the misfortune of neglecting the children she was meant to look after and ended up in a US jail for a few days. It was based on an incident that happened to a friend. I tried to imagine what she must have felt in that situation and also the circumstances that led her to the US. I worked on that story for months!

Did you consciously model your writing on authors you admire?

Not necessarily the authors, but by the books I’m reading at that particular time, for example, Happiness is Four Letter Word came from reading “chick-lit”. I’m now writing a slightly somber book about HIV and death – my current reading list is made up of books touching on similar subjects. It’s a style thing too, I’m always curious to see how others tackle certain issues.

Do you follow any strict writing rules?

I used to write every day, and that was good – I wrote and finished a book. Now I write whenever I can, which of course means I hardly write. But I’m working on correcting this.

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, pen and paper, special brand of pencil?)

Laptop and iPad mostly. Serviettes often come in handy. Ideas strike at any time.

Do you have a special writing room, or do you work anywhere and everywhere?

I work anywhere and everywhere. I always have my laptop, it’s like I’m married to it.

How did you go about getting your first piece of work published? (Not your first book, but your first short piece of writing.)

I published my first short story on a local college/university literary magazine. I submitted it and they published it. The same story was also published in an online literary magazine – but I can’t remember what it was called.

When did you decide to take the big step to write a full-length novel?

I started Happiness is a Four Letter Word around 2006, and wrote on and off until I sent it to Kwela Books in mid-2009 when I felt it was respectable enough.

What practical tips do you have for writers hoping to publish their first book?

Read as much as you can and write every day. Really, I know every writer says this but it is true. You learn so much from reading other people’s work.

Maintain some truth in your writing.

Get someone to read your manuscript before sending it off for publication, ideally someone who generally read books and whom you trust to give honest and constructive feedback.

If you plan to go with big publishers, do your homework – know who is out there and the type of books they publish. In my view we are fortunate in South Africa in that writers are able to approach publishers directly without going through literary agents.

Join the Books LIVE community. Thank me later.

What unique challenges do you think a young South African writer faces?

Marketing your work after publication, books don’t sell themselves. As a young writer chances are nobody knows you yet, it’s up to you to create the awareness about your book.

If you could give a young writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t do it, unless you’re uncomfortable not doing it. Ask for help if you get stuck.

 

* * * * * * * *

 
Legendary actress and Aids activist Hlubi Mboya kicked off the first of the Long Story Short series of public readings with her performance of Jele’s short story “Tender” recently.

Watch the video:

YouTube Preview Image

 

* * * * * * * *

Related links:

 

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Sunday Read: Writing by Abdellatif Laabi, Nobel Laureate Patrick Modiano and Many More in Asymptote’s Latest Issue

For this week’s Sunday Read we present to you a delicious platter served by Asymptote,
the literary translation journal which took home the London Book Fair’s International Translation Initiative Award in April this year.

Their July issue, the first since winning the award, packs a mighty punch in terms of world literature. It features fiction, poetry, essays, visuals and interviews by a wide range of internationally acclaimed authors, including brand new writing from 2014 Nobel Laureaute Patrick Modiano. Over thirty countries are represented in their “Parallel Worlds” issue which is available for free online.

We have selected a few of our personal highlights from the Summer edition of Assymptote to offer you some literary warmth as winter digs it’s claws even deeper here in the southern hemisphere.

Enjoy!

 
Fiction

A Trace of MaliceVilla TristeSuspended SentencesParis Nocturne
An excerpt – translated from the French by Phoebe Weston-Evans
Patrick Modiano

I was having trouble sleeping. I was tempted to go and ask the pharmacist for one of the midnight-blue vials of ether I knew so well. But I stopped myself in time. It wasn’t the moment to give in. I had to remain as lucid as possible. During those sleepless nights, what I regretted most was having left all my books in my room on Rue de la Voie-Verte. There weren’t many bookshops in the area. I walked towards l’Étoile to find one. I bought some detective novels and an old second-hand book, the title of which intrigued me: The Wonders of the Heavens. To my great surprise, I couldn’t bring myself to read detective novels anymore. But hardly had I opened The Wonders of the Heavens, which bore on its first page the words ‘Night reading’, than I realised just how much this book was going to mean to me. Nebula. The Milky Way. The Sidereal World. The Northern Constellations. The Zodiac, Distant Universes …

Poetry

The Bottom of the JarLetter to My Friends Overseas
Translated from the French by André Naffis-Sahely
Abdellatif Laâbi

Friends
you’ve become
one of those beacons of light
who help to defend me
from the forceps of the night
You find your way to me
through the mercy of the poem
and I’ll see you again
beyond the barbed wire of exile
in a stillborn continent
that never surges out of the sea or the sky
nor is fashioned out of clay
but by the hands and the fervour
of voices that plead and jump out of the window
to plunge into the swell of possibilities
A human continent
that nurses the preamble
of all the sleeping or reawakening gifts
inside us all
which despite the hurdles of baseness
work their way through our flesh
and our consciences

Non-fiction

My Two WorldsSimple Language, Name
translated from the Spanish by Margaret Carson
Sergio Chejfec

Though they may use lengthy sentences, and may have a weakness for complex thoughts or stylistic displays, privately all writers dream of wielding a simple language. Not always to put it into practice, that is, to write in it and show it off, but instead as an ideal of verbal expression that encloses a more elemental or compressed truth, a transparency, linked to each one’s past, even when it is difficult to represent. That rhetorical heritage at times approaches a tautological mechanism devised by memory, as if each object or idea carried into writing were nothing more than its isolated name. A writer knows that what is written is meant to be understood, but also that it contains a facet of intimate correspondence with his or her past, which is often uncontrollable.

Special Feature

Unfortunately, It Was ParadiseA Land Made of Words
Fakhri Saleh on Palestinian Writers

In Memory of Mahmoud Darwish

The Palestinian catastrophe lies at the heart of many Palestinian writers’ oeuvres. Through a variety of literary forms and genres, they have attempted to show the world the looming horrors of a people dispossessed, exiled, and crippled. In particular, the poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) and the novelists Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972), Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (1920-1994), and Emile Habiby (1921-1996) stand out by virtue of the uniquely innovative literary styles through which they capture the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe): the tragedy of a people who lost their land.

Interview

StudyAn interview with Yuko Otomo

Exophonic writers are given a rare opportunity to mirror ourselves in a multi-language identity.

In many of your poems there is what I would call a narrative sense of a female who has no words. This wordlessness or refusal to put into words some essential idea of art is central to your approach. Can you elaborate on the role of gender in your poetry?

The Japanese culture embraces its feminine qualities unusually well, compared to most other cultures in the world. The sun was a woman in our Genesis tale. The Japanese literature that flourished in the classical era with feminine language carries its tradition to now. The tea ceremony and flower arrangement are considered human acts, not just for women, with grand masters usually being men. I come from a society with a unique gender consciousness, so I never felt uneasy about my sexuality. But I try not to be too conscious of it since I see myself as a woman/human, instead of just a woman.

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How to be a Writer, Part 2: Niq Mhlongo – “I Wanted to be Rich, but Writing Chose Me”

Niq Mhlongo
AffluenzaDog Eat DogAfter TearsWay Back Home

 

This is Part 2 in our How to be a Writer series.

Read Part 1:

Books LIVE chatted to Niq Mhlongo to find out when he started writing, why he writes, and how he writes.

See what he had to say:

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer? And what did that realisation mean to you?

Niq Mhlongo: I don’t think I always wanted to be a writer. Instead, I think writing chose me. I always wanted to be a lawyer, earn big money, and be rich one day. That’s why I spent four years doing law at both Wits University and UCT. But then, I found law to be difficult and unexciting because there were rules to follow. I hated rules because I felt I could not spread my imagination far enough. After dropping from law school at the University of Cape Town I realised that the court cases were not meant for me to solve, but to admire. I was interested more in telling those case law stories than solving them. The only way to think limitlessly was through literature. Then I started writing, and it worked.

Can you remember the first story you wrote? What was it for, and how old were you?

Before my debut novel Dog Eat Dog, all my stories were trapped and suffocating in my brain and soul, wanting to come out. I only set them free by writing the novel. The only thing I regret was not doing it earlier, before I turned 30.

Did you consciously model your writing on authors you admire?

Not at all. Of course there are authors that I admire, especially from the African Writers Series. But their experiences are different from mine.

Do you follow any strict writing rules?

Well, I know there are some writers who wake up at 4 AM every morning, sit on the balcony of their homes and listen to the first morning birdsong before they can write. Unfortunately I’m not one of those. I have no strict writing rules because I hate rules. I only write when I’m inspired, and when I have something to write about. Luckily, so far, I’m always inspired because I’m always writing. To me, writing is a process that doesn’t stop. I’m always observing, listening, imagining, admiring, reading, talking, and living stories while making notes in my notebook that I always carry along with me, or typing the notes on my laptop. All these processes are writing to me, and they are equally important in shaping my stories. Writing for me goes beyond just sitting on my chair and typing the information that I have gathered. So, I can’t have the rules. But I must state that during the process of actual typing I withdraw for a while from the cares of luxury life in order to examine and reflect on the information I have gathered without interference. However, I can’t call that a rule.

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, pen and paper, special brand of pencil?)

I don’t have that luxury. I use a computer as well as a pen and paper. No special brand. But I’m open to negotiations if there is anyone with a business tender out there who wishes to sponsor me with a specific brand.

Do you have a special writing room, or do you work anywhere and everywhere?

I work anywhere and everywhere, and every day. I write inside the shebeen, library, plane, train, car, or taxi, on the side of the road. I always travel with a pen and notebook, waiting for those moments when my attention and imagination would wander into unknown spaces. Wherever and whenever I think of an idea, I write it down. I then develop that idea when I’m next to my laptop. So the next time you see me walking in the street with downcast eyes; neither glancing to the right nor left and never behind, you must know I’m busy writing. Do not disturb.

How did you go about getting your first piece of work published? (Not your first book, but your first short piece of writing.)

The only thing that was published with my name on it before my first book (Dog Eat Dog) was my matric results in some national newspapers. Obviously I was excited that I got an exemption. Otherwise I never had anything published before my first book.

When did you decide to take the big step to write a full-length novel?

After failing some law courses at UCT, especially criminal law that I had studied so hard for, I decided to write Dog Eat Dog. At first I thought I would just write a poem or a short story about the professor that was lecturing it. Then I realised that these two literary techniques were very hard for me. I decided the write a full-length novel, which was much easier and also cathartic because there were fewer rules, such as word count or word choice. The rest is history.

What practical tips do you have for writers hoping to publish their first book?

They must not observe rules because there are no rules at all. Do not censor yourself, but spread your imagination. Write to express yourself and not to impress others. There are many ways to publish your first book, including self-publishing. If you’re in this business for money, forget it. But there are lots of opportunities in writing, including free trips to see the world.

What unique challenges do you think a young South African writer faces?

Same old story – it is difficult to crack a book market in South Africa. You might want to keep your day job – if you have one. And this is not a unique South African challenge.

If you could give a young writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Read, and read as much as you can. Do not try to write or sound like JM Coetzee, Zukiswa Wanner, Fiona Synkers, Niq Mhlongo, or Zakes Mda. Find your own voice and stick to it.

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Actress, playwright and poet Mbali Kgosidintsi recently performed Mhlongo’s story “Goliwood Drama” for a Long Story Short event at the Hammanskraal Community Library recently.

“Goliwood Drama” was a finalist in the Twenty in 20 project in 2014.

Watch the video:

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11 Quotations to Remember Nadine Gordimer, a Year After Her Death

11 Quotations to Remember Nadine Gordimer, a Year After Her Death
Life TimesNone to Accompany MeOn the MinesNo Time Like the PresentA Guest of HonourJuly\'s PeopleA World of Strangers

 
Nadine Gordimer passed away on 13 July, 2014 – exactly one year ago today. To remember her unique voice, we’ve collected a selection of memorable quotations from her life and work.

The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

Source: “A Bolter and the Invincible Summer”, London Magazine (May 1963)

Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.

Source: Gordimer’s Nobel Lecture

I have failed at many things, but I have never been afraid.

Source: Interview with Justin Cartwright

I began to write out of an undefined – at that stage – lyrical impulse. It could be danced, or it could be written: a sense of wonder about life, a tremendously vivid response to being alive.

Source: A Quotionary by Jenny Hobbs

There is no moral authority like that of sacrifice.
Source: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values

I have obstinately kept my freedom as a writer. In my books, my fiction, I have never stopped to think whether I will offend anybody, whether I will look disloyal to my political loyalties. A writer must be free to try and tell the truth as he or she sees it.

Source: A Quotionary by Jenny Hobbs

To me writing is a discovery of life, an attempt to discover what human life is about. If you’re a real writer you can make the death of a canary striking.

Source: A Quotionary by Jenny Hobbs

Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.

Source: “Censorship and its Aftermath”

Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.

Source: A Quotionary by Jenny Hobbs

I don’t cry. Unfortunately, I seem rather short of tears, so my sorrows have to stay inside me.

Source: Guardian interview

Written words still have the amazing power to bring out the best and worst in human nature. We ought to treat words the way we treat nuclear energy or genetic engineering – with courage, caution, vision and precision.

Source: A Quotionary by Jenny Hobbs

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100 Books for Every South African Child: Book Dash Jozi – The Biggest Yet

Book Dash

The biggest Book Dash to date took place at the Goethe Institute, Johannesburg at the end of June, almost a year to the day after it all started in earnest.

Back in June 2014, some 40 writers, illustrators, designers and editors gathered at the Cape Town Central Library, and the first three books were printed and distributed on Mandela Day last year.

Book Dash aspires to provide every child in South Africa with 100 books by the time they turn five. “That means giving 600 million free books to children who could never afford to buy them,” said Tarryn-Anne Anderson, one of the project’s founders. “We make books that anyone can freely download, translate and distribute because our work is our gift to the world.”

Recent research from the University of Stellenbosch shows that exposure to books improves the IQ of preschoolers. To this end, some of the books were specifically written for a book-sharing project taking place in rural Lesotho, where caregivers of young children will receive training in sensitive book-sharing skills. It is believed that this interaction stimulates the child cognitively and fosters the relationship between the child and their carer.

Since its inception, the Book Dash project has grown in leaps and bounds. One of the noticeably special aspects of this particular dash was the way seasoned professionals and newcomers knuckled down to work, side by side, pooling their resources and helping each other out.

Wordsmith Roxana Bouwer is the content strategist and worker of words at a digital design, development and marketing agency. She came to the task of writing for children for the first time and spoke about the challenges of preparing her narrative to hit the right age group.

Her story explored how children experience differences in others, including disability, body type, language or race. She had prepared her narrative as a rhyming verse, one of the more difficult approaches to children’s storytelling. She undertook the challenge of paring it down with a good heart and spoke about the process of getting the scansion and rhythm working.

“I found having the input of editors and fellow writers extremely beneficial to my story,” she said. “I enjoyed the interactions and spending the day surrounded by creativity was exhilarating and inspiring. I got out of it a whole lot more than I ever expected.”

Louis Greenberg, whose latest co-authored novel with Sarah Lotz, Underground, is out now, shared his experience of writing children’s literature for the first time via his Books LIVE blog.

5:05 p.m.
The wine has arrived, so while I am still compos mentis, I will tell you a bit of background about Rafiki’s Style. It started when my sons (aka Thing 1 and 2) and DW (Dear Wife) and I were watching football on TV. We recently subscribed to satellite TV and have become deeply drawn into Premier League football. Our family favourite team is Arsenal – initiated by Thing 2, the five-year-old, who wanted to change his surname to Arsenal. We were talking about footballers’ hairstyles. Thing 2 loves Calum Chambers, and his hairstyle, and DW likes Thomas Rosicky‘s hair best. But she couldn’t remember his name and referred to him as “Rafiki”. Next thing, Rafiki had made his way into her bedtime stories to the Things. DW is far more creative when it comes to storytime than I am; I love reading a well-written children’s book — Julia Donaldson is the most fun to read aloud — but DW comes up with original stories. So when we received the Book Dash brief, it was no surprise that I asked DW to brainstorm ideas with me. She helped me come up with the whole first draft.

While on the matter of Europe(an sport), it’s cool to be at the Goethe Institute in Parkwood. It’s architecturally a welcoming, open building and with airy, open facilities which they’re offering to Book Dash for nada. By the by, I’ve been teaching myself some basic German through the awesome language site Duolingo, so I felt qualified to come this morning. But it’s such an open-looking place, it seems you’d be welcome to come in even if you couldn’t speak German. They offer language course I may use to brush up. Why was I learning German, you may ask? I’m hoping to use Berlin as a setting for a future novel, but that’s still up to the publishing deities.

Lisa Treffry-Goatley, Mosa Mahlaba, Selina Morulane and Sibusiso Mkhwanazi
Mosa Mahlaba, a languages and literature student at Unisa who recently completed an internship with Between 10 and 5 also volunteered to participate. “Selina Morulane and I decided that together we would create a children’s book,” she said.

“While researching how to go about that we happily stumbled across Book Dash. We were excited to find out that this year Book Dash was coming to Jozi and we (mostly me though) stalked Tarryn-Anne Anderson until we were on the list of participants!”

Mahlaba says she is well aware of the gap that exists between children who are introduced to reading at an early age and those who aren’t. “For those who aren’t reading, closing the gap may be the hardest thing to do. That is why I am in full support of Book Dash. As it grows it will ensure that no child is left behind and if I can be a part of that, even in the smallest way then I would be blessed beyond measure.”

Mosa MahlabaShe says her biggest challenge as a first-time author for children was: “To say what I needed to say in a straightforward and clear way.”

Arthur Attwell, who co-founded Book Dash with Tarryn-Anne Anderson and Michelle Matthews, took a turn as a book designer this time around. Although he has supervised previous Book Dashes, he said he realised in a new way how integral the designer’s role is, and hadn’t quite anticipated the pressure he would feel as a member of a creative team. “The book designer really holds the book together on the day, sewing it up, stitching up the disparate parts. It’s good to know first hand what the creative process feels like,” he said.

Attwell also spoke about the books that were produced and printed from previous Book Dash events and giveaways. “At this stage, there are 17 titles fully published, and several of these have been translated into various languages, including isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Sepedi, Setswana, Swahili, Yoruba and French. We call a book fully published when we post the print-ready files on our website,” he said.

Five books from previous Book Dashes, and the 12 books from Book Dash Jozi, are still being finalised. During Women’s Month 2014 10 new titles celebrating remarkable African women came to life.

Karen Hurt and Lwando XasoSiya Masuku and Leona Ingram

Attwell said, “After Book Dash their teams and other volunteers finish off any outstanding artwork, and then we put the books through a few quality-control steps before publication. These include: professional scanning of physical artwork, image touch-ups, translation (where partner organisations give us vetted, professional translations), proofreading, typography refinement, and output to alternative formats like ebooks and web versions. This process is important for making sure our published books are as good as anything you’ll find in a bookstore.”

So far 10 000 books have been printed for giveaways and distributed to children, ECD centres and schools through 12 partner organisations, such as The Shine Centre and Masikhule. The printing was funded (roughly in order of size of sponsorship) by Decorland, Thundafund crowdfunding supporters, The Shine Centre, Electric Book Works, and Rotary Newlands, with additional support from Biblionef. Liquid refreshment at Wine o’Clock from Leopard’s Leap Wine smoothed the process along when spirits flagged.

“We’re chuffed,’ said Attwell, “while at the same time we consider those 10 000 a small but promising start, given that our aim is to drive and enable collective action to give away millions of new, high-quality, locally produced books. We also know that our books are distributed in other ways by other organisations, like Nal’ibali who use them in newspaper supplements in their reading programmes, and the African Storybook Project and FunDza, who produce web and ebook versions.

Sugar and snakes and sour jelly lipsTools of the trade

The last two Book Dash events – Cape Town in August and the Joburg Dash – were sponsored by the African Storybook Project. In Joburg, The Goethe Institute sponsored the venue and logistical support, and Leopard’s Leap helped at wine o’clock. About 50 volunteers made the day happen. Book Dash’s official prospectus outlines in detail the bold vision inherent in this project that aims to find the cheapest way to give great books to little children.
Searching for the Spirit of Spring

This event in Johannesburg was sponsored by the African Storybook Project and Prevention Research for Community, Family and Child Health, which is based in the Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University.

The 12 teams, each comprising an illustrator, writer and book designer, included Selina Morulane, Mosa Mahlaba, Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, Candice Dingwall, Steven McKimmie, Telri Stoop, Ann Roberts, Kate Sidley, Robyn Penn, Arthur Attwell, Sonia Dearling, Brendon O’Neill, Oscar Masinyana, Siya Masuku, Leona Ingram, Claire Ingram, Lwando Xaso, Jess Jardim-Wedepohl, Fred Strydom, Stephen Wallace, Margot Bertelsmann, Renate van Rensburg, Ronell Botes-Kerr, Emma Hearne, Roxana Bouwer, Sarah Bouwer, Audrey Anderson, Louis Greenberg, Wesley Thompson, Liesl Jobson, Marike Beyleveld, Natalie Propa, Bianca de Jong, Jade Mathieson and Louwrisa Blaauw.

Marguerite Marlow from Partnership for Alcohol and AIDS Intervention Research (PAAIR) was present in an advisory capacity. She assisted writers on the needs of the book-sharing project for which some of the books are destined in rural Lesotho.

The team of roving editors included Melissa Davidson, Sarah McGregor, Bonnie Kneen, Elise Varga, Ester Levinrad, Karen Hurt and Lisa Treffry-Goatley. Andy Duncan headed up a terrific technical team that included Rouan Wilsenach, Claire Wilsenach, Thandi O’Hagan and Tarryn-Anne Anderson; with Michelle Matthews serving as the remote organiser.

Home AwayFeast, Famine and PotluckEmbracing DigitalThe Agony ChefRide the TortoiseThe Raft

The MallThe WardThe New GirlUndergroundKilling Time

There are many ways you can follow, participate in or support Book Dash. Get involved any way you can to make a difference to the future of literacy and literature in South Africa. Bring you skills to a future Book Dash or sponsor one. Donations are always welcome.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) and Book Dash storyteller Thandi O’Hagan (@BookDash) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #bookdash:


 

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Facebook album:

Towards 600 Million Free Books for Childrenhttp://book.co.za/RvSk

Posted by Books LIVE on Monday, 13 July 2015

 

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Long Story Short Event at Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library Leaves Yewande Omotoso with Some Questions

Long Story Short event
Bom BoyUnimportanceIf I Could Sing

 
The fourth Long Story Short took place at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Pretoria last weekend, with Khulu Skenjana reading Thando Mgqolozana’s short story “The Weeping Willow”, but the event was forced to shut down before the Poet Laureate had had a chance to speak, leaving Yewande Omotoso with some questions.

Long Story Short is a Kajeno Media initiative, involving a short story being read at a public event, with high quality podcasts and videos being produced for free consumption and download afterwards.

Long Story Short event

The reading was a very festive affair, attended by Keorapetse Kgositsile and the “who’s who” of South African literature, while Africa Flavour Books brought in a pop-up store with discounted African books – including some rare classics.

However, after the reading the discussion was interrupted by a booming intercom announcing that the library was closing, and the whole group was forced to leave the library in a hurry.

Omotoso is the curator of the pieces to be read for Long Story Short. Read her piece on the event:

The Day the Library Finished

Long Story Short eventWe gathered at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Tshwane City, a library folded into a mall – Sammy Marks Square – which is really a thoughtful arrangement. Why put the library on a hill somewhere? Put it on the white sands of beaches, dig it underneath our cinemas, plant it on top of our spaza shops – the point is treat the library like the hearth, what good is a fire if nobody can reach it to be warmed?

The Sammy Marks building has a robust history. Sammy Marks, for whom the building is named, was born in 1843 and was a South African industrialist and financier. In addition to paying for the bricks and chandeliers of the Pretoria synagogue he commissioned a statue of Kruger that stands on Church Square. Possibly Sammy Marks Square was once offices and commerce but now a huge portion of it is full of glorious books.

The purpose of that particular gathering was to hear a reading of “The Weeping Willow”, an eerie story by Thando Mqolozana. A story so sharp it prickles. Performed by Khulu Skenjana to a warm crowd of about 30 hungry people, the day would have been a success if not for a few holes in our otherwise solid ground.

One can’t claim to understand all the holes, the extent of them and how to fill them up, but you don’t need to be a professor of something to know you’ve fallen and you can’t get up.

Before the reading, armed with an infusion of earnestness and at the behest of organiser Kgauhelo Dube, I trawled the library aisles and accosted innocent library visitors. I told them about Long Story Short and that they may have noticed a small commotion, that we were about to have a short reading, and asked if perhaps they wanted a break from their intense studying. There weren’t that many people to begin with but I passed out flyers to the few I saw and I’m pleased to say I was persuasive enough to attract an extra four or five curious folk.

At the appointed time the reading began. Khulu has gravel in his voice and Thando’s story, as small as it is, is full of heavy rocks which sink to the bottom of your heart. People leaned forward in their seats, keen not to miss anything. The good news is whatever was missed can be heard again thanks to the podcast and a thing called Wi-Fi.

Seconds after Khulu finished his performance, cutting off MC Masello Motana in mid-sentence, a determined voice tinkled through the intercom to let us know that the library would be closing at 12.50pm. Possibly we, the organisers and guests, were guilty of the disease called Denial because I remember hearing the announcement but not really understanding. As if the woman had spoken in a foreign language. There was bustle you see, great excitement. A posse of writers, publishers, readers, high-school students. It is possible that when you’re that excited you consider yourself immune to intercom announcements.

Long Story Short eventWhile the MC navigated us through the question and answer session, a second announcement cut in. Thando Mgqolozana and South African Poet Laureate Keorapetse William Kgositsile were on stage at the time. With that strange combination of embarrassment and indignation, Masello had the excruciating task of telling the book lovers that we had to leave, adding that perhaps we could gather outside in the square, as it would appear that the library was kicking us out or – as a three-year-old succinctly put it – the library was finished.

Of course libraries must close. I had the luxury of experiencing a real-life 24-hour library, and it’s a wondrous thing; hopefully this invention will soon land on our shores. But for now libraries close. Do a little tour and you’ll note the different times the different libraries around South Africa close, I won’t dwell on it here. The point is that Es’kia Mphahlele closes at 12.50pm on a Saturday. Perhaps that’s a hole. Not the fault of the receptionist and workers who want to get home and need to catch a cocktail of buses and taxis to do so. But how about the senior librarian, what should one expect of such a person when you come and visit them? Foolishly, Long Story Short and its slowly growing tribe thought to be welcomed and feted. We were bringing books and readers and writers into a library, we were filming and promoting reading, we had Ntate Keorapetse with us, we thought ourselves bullet-proof or at least kick-out-proof. We certainly didn’t intend on staying till Christmas – our programme was wrapping up – we simply wanted a few extra minutes to end in a dignified fashion. Instead we packed hurriedly and scurried out.

Long Story Short eventOutside in the gorgeous Sammy Marks Square the sun hit our eyeballs, we moved about, conspicuous; we laughed about the recent eviction, took resplendent photographs and selfies and eventually dispersed. Should the library close that early on a Saturday? What a wonderful space it is, what an awesome facility, shouldn’t it have been fuller? Where was the librarian, why didn’t she come through to greet Ntate? Why that double dose of officious intercoming? Could the deliverer of such news not have walked the 10 paces to where we sat and whispered in Kgauhelo’s ear, apologetic to break up such a dazzling party? Libraries close, of course, but that seems the least of the problem. There was a certain spirit we missed and it made us nostalgic and frustrated. The irony of starting a reading movement in a library that seems at best bemused, at worst hostile. Perhaps we weren’t imposing or important enough. Books are powerful but books aren’t guns. Books are enriching but books aren’t bars of gold. Of course any reader knows that books are more than guns, pomp, flash and gold and we assumed any library would know that too.

Long Story Short eventEs’kia Mphahlele, father of African literature – that child blessed with a sprinkling of parents. Mphahlele was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984 and, in 1998, was awarded South Africa’s highest symbol of recognition – the Order of the Southern Cross. The renown came from his brilliance in fiction and non-fiction, in theatre, teaching, activism and in thought. A bust of Prof. Es’kia Mphahlele sits in the library. If, instead of his likeness, he himself had been there that day, what would he have said, preacher of humanism and the importance of African consciousness?

“There must surely be much more to be said than the mere recounting of an incident: about the loves and hates of my people; their desires; their poverty and affluence … their diligence and idleness; their cold indifference and enthusiasm …”

What I take from his words is that we are complex, our histories are complex, our struggles are complex and our solutions will occasionally slip through holes and fight for purchase. Mphahlele preached, despite immense challenges, the survival of an African humanism. It seems intelligent, whatever the upsets of the day, to keep returning to this nugget of wisdom.

Yewande Omotoso

View a photo album from the event:

 

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The 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize: Shortlisted Authors Discuss Their Novels

Read a series of interviews with the five authors on the 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist.

 
The overall winners of this year’s Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and Alan Paton Award will be announced on Saturday, 27 June, at a gala dinner at Summer Place in Johannesburg.

 

2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlistees

Tales of the Metric SystemA Croc of Silver: 2015 Barry Ronge Prize Shortlistee Imraan Coovadia Discusses Tales of the Metric System
 
 
 
 
 
 
OctoberLeaping Upstream: 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Shortlistee Zoe Wicomb Discusses the Origins of her Novel October
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullArctic SummerSecret Journeys: 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Shortlistee Damon Galgut Discusses the Origins of Arctic Summer
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe Savage HourThe Outsiders in My Head: 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Shortlistee Elaine Proctor on Writing The Savage Hour
 
 
 
 
 
 
nullThe ReactiveAn Honest Imagining: 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Shortlistee Masande Ntshanga Talks About Writing The Reactive
 
 
 
 
 

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