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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

The links between southwest France and the Cape inspired Kate Mosse’s latest novel, writes Kate Sidley

Published in the Sunday Times


Kate Mosse has a house in Carcassonne, again the setting of a novel. Picture: Supplied

The Burning Chambers
****
Kate Mosse, Mantle, R285

Bestselling author Kate Mosse visited the graveyard in Franschhoek several years ago and felt such a strong sense of the links between the southwest of France and the Cape, the landscape and Huguenot history that, she says, a shiver ran down her spine. It inspired The Burning Chambers.

Readers are plunged into 16th-century France, to a time of bloody strife between Protestants and Catholics, persecution of the Huguenots and the massacre of Toulouse. Like her Languedoc trilogy (Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel), this novel is set predominantly in Carcassonne.

“All my fiction is inspired by place, by landscape,” she says. Mosse knows the place – she goes there every month to write. When she’s there the history of this fortified medieval city is palpable to her. She’s walked the ancient streets and climbed the towers and seen the sun on the citadel, and this intimate knowledge she bring to The Burning Chambers.

It’s a lot of complex history to wrangle, and Mosse handles it deftly, bringing the setting and its events vividly to life while interweaving the familial and romantic stories. At its heart is a love story, between young Minou Joubert, the daughter of a Catholic bookshop owner, and Piet Reydon, a Dutch-born Protestant convert and supporter of the Protestant army.

Minou receives a mysterious anonymous letter: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE. Piet has secrets and a dangerous mission. The characters’ converging storylines are interspersed with extracts from a mysterious diary. The book proceeds with plenty of threads, twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. A priceless religious relic, treachery, torture and murder add to the intrigue.

Mosse’s characters – Minou’s family, the political and religious plotters and planners, and a mysterious and nasty villain – keep us emotionally connected.

“I have an idea of the sort of people I need, and it’s as if I build a set, and the characters start to show themselves. I’m intrigued. ‘Ah, so that’s who you are. I see. And you have red hair.’ It’s like a developing photograph. Sometimes, someone who I thought was a chorus member will say no, she’s a supporting lead. Other times it turns out a character just isn’t up to the job.”

Women’s stories are often at the heart of Mosse’s books. “I like to write about older women,” she says. “They hear more and see more than people realise.”

Mosse points out that certain themes and experiences – prejudice and persecution, family, exile, political power, tolerance, love – are timeless and universal. It’s these that drive the novel.

This novel is the first in a quartet tracing Huguenot history through three centuries. Fans of Mosse’s big, engrossing historical novels will be delight to have three more to look forward to, following the descendants of some of the characters in The Burning Chambers. @KateSidley

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“It started off the way my projects often do; with a title.” Harry Kalmer writes about the origins of his novel, A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, shortlisted for the 2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Published in the Sunday Times

Harry Kalmer is an award-winning playwright and novelist who has authored six works of fiction and 23 plays. His novel En die lekkerste deel van dood wees was the runner-up in the 2007 Sanlam/Insig Groot Roman competition. Briewe aan ‘n rooi dak, based on the letters of Magdalena Otto, received the Anglo-Gold Aardklop award for best new drama in 2001, and was adapted for TV and broadcast. In 2014, his drama The Bram Fischer Waltz won the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts. He lives in Johannesburg.

It started off the way my projects often do; with a title. The title arrived on a Monday morning in 2007 outside a hardware store. At the same moment an image of a fountain with Arabic titles appeared.

The fountain I recalled from a walk in Tangiers years before. However, this image placed the fountain in a courtyard in Belgravia, the suburb that, in the 1890s was Jozi’s first walled community.

A few weeks later in Springs I waited for someone next to a pool of stagnant mine water with reeds and water fowl. I wrote what I thought was an opening line in a notebook. The line ended up on page 41 of A Thousand Tales. The fountain didn’t make it onto the page but the book was set in Belgravia and the title made it to publication.

For a long time it remained only a title. The xenophobic attacks of May 2008 and the fact that the violence spilt over into the suburb where my unwritten book was set, was a trigger. I was horrified by the proximity of the violence to my cosy middle-class existence, the brutality of the attacks and what it said about our society.

The violence became the backdrop for the novel.

A title with the words A Thousand doesn’t lend itself to a short format. I realised I needed help and enrolled in a masters in creative writing at the University of Stellenbosch. By the end of that year, thanks to my supervisors, Willem Anker and Marlene van Niekerk, I had a 300-page first draft.

I colour coded the storylines, arranged them in interesting patterns on my wall and used it as a structure for the next draft. A year and several drafts later I added the first 40 pages.

During that time I was invited to read at Africa Short Story Day – I was the only Afrikaans reader – and read a scene from my work in progress. The scene was set in the Rockey Street jazz club Rumours during the 1980s. Half the audience didn’t understand what I read. I realised that the book should also be published in English.

By 2012 I had enough of a manuscript to end up on the shortlist for the Groot Afrikaanse Romanwedstryd.

‘n Duisend Stories oor Johannesburg was finally published in 2014 and was eventually shortlisted for eight Afrikaans literary awards. I translated the book myself and Melt Myburgh and Fourie Botha at Penguin Random House said they wanted to publish it. They appointed Michael Titlestadt as editor.

I translated the book so that more people, my English-speaking family members and friends could read it. And perhaps find a few new readers.

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Bevan Frank on his award-winning debut thriller, The Mind of God, global consciousness, the British royal family, and Random Event Generators

By Mila de Villiers

Local author Bevan Franks’ debut thriller, The Mind of God, which is set in Cape Town, has won the 2018 Indie Reader Discovery Award for Popular Fiction. Judges included notable publishers, agents, publicists and bloggers.

The announcement was made by Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark on Saturday 2 June, at Book Expo America, a major trade show in New York.

I discerned the following about Bevan’s lauded book (thanks, gmail!)…

The book is set against an unfolding terrorist plot in Cape Town while the president of the USA is visiting the Mother City. Could you expand on the nature of the plot and, in light of the Trump-era, why you decided on the president of the United States specifically and not, say, a British prime minister?

A mysterious black box gets stolen from the University of Cape Town while the president of the USA is in the Mother City. Is this a coincidence or is there something more sinister at play? When the professor who worked on the black box disappears, it is up to Liz Greene to find out what happened to her father and his groundbreaking research before it is too late. Liz and her friend, Tim Fletcher, must solve one clue after another as they suddenly find themselves fleeing for their lives in a deadly hunt around Cape Town.

Why did I choose a US presidential character as opposed to one from another country? America is still one of the most, if not the most, powerful countries in the world. Any visit by an American president to SA is a huge news story/event with potential to bring with it positive trade and economic outcomes for SA. Also, in SA there is a huge following of American culture (regardless of ones political views) from movies to books to TV to clothing. (Even one of the gangs on the Cape Flats calls themselves the Americans!)

So if South Africa is a good enough place for an American president to visit, I hope that Americans who have never been to SA would consider it as a holiday destination. Part of my aim in writing the book was to attract international audiences, to get the world to discover SA and to ultimately play my own small part in helping to boost the South African brand (and rand!) And lots of parts of America remain an untapped market in terms of enticing American tourists to visit our shores.

Could you tell our readers a bit more about your protagonist, Liz Greene, and why her father’s research plays such an integral role in the plot?

Liz Greene lives in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. What starts out as an ordinary day for her quickly unfolds into something deadly and sinister as events spiral out of her control. She has developed the ability to deal with what life throws at her, and once she sets her mind to something, there’s no stopping her! But will she be able to cope with the unfolding plot that readers are exposed to? There are various players who will stop at nothing to get what they want, which is something related to Liz’s father’s black box and its crucial global consciousness research that he had recently made a breakthrough with. The black box is the crucial driver behind the fictitious thriller.

The mysterious black box around which the story centres is a Random Event Generator. Could you please

a) explain the purpose of a Random Event Generator (in layman’s terms – after a furious bout of googling, I’m *still* baffled!) and
b) why you decided on the funeral of Princess Diana as a method of describing the ‘worldwide mind’ of grief experienced around the globe? Is this commentary on how easily humankind is influenced by anonymous, yet powerful/revered figures which we – to an extent – tend to deify?

Is there an invisible consciousness that connects all of humanity? What if we could somehow measure it and use it to predict the future? My thriller centres around a real-life project by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which researches how beliefs, thoughts, and intentions affect the physical world. At the core of this is the black box device or Random Event Generator. In scientific terms, a Random Event Generator is a device that uses computer technology to generate two numbers – a one and a zero – in an entirely random sequence, almost like an electronic coin flipper. [I hope this clarifies a bit more! The reality is that I go into a lot of detail in the book about this and it becomes clearer as the novel progresses.]

While conducting my research for the novel, I found the impact of Princess Diana’s funeral on the black box to be absolutely amazing. In fact I couldn’t believe that it was true, but it was and I decided that this was one of the best examples to use in revealing what actually transpired that day in terms of global consciousness. I don’t want to give away too much to your readers as I obviously don’t want to spoil the story, but there are other important global events which had significant impact on the black box which I explore in my novel too, including a lot of detail about 9/11. What is astonishing is that the black box had a type of ‘premonition’ a few hours before the tragic events of 9/11 took place. As I waded deeper into my research I knew that this subject matter had to be shared, and what better way to do it than amidst an exciting thriller!

The royal family features prominently in your novel; when did you start writing The Mind of God? Was it long before the announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement? As a side note – do you think the British royal family are deserving of the worldwide attention they garner? Is royalty still relevant in the 21st century era? And how did it feel when you heard Bishop Curry quote the exact same de Chardin-quote which appears in your novel?

My book was finished before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle even started dating, which is why I was even more amazed when Bishop Curry mentioned the quote by de Chardin in his sermon at their wedding. The fact that he used the same quote I used at the beginning of my book just reinforced to me the power of synchronicity and how we are all connected, in ways most people don’t even realize.

On the subject of the British royal family, I believe that they are deserving of all the attention they get today. I think that the monarchy and its rich history is important for Britain as a country and for its economy, and can continue to play an important role particularly the younger generation of royals who have made it more relevant in today’s age.

Role models, whether royalty or other, are important in life and many people look up to their role models to give them hope and aspiration. Whether it is a child playing rugby in Soweto who gets inspiration from our new Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, or an aspiring comedian on the Cape Flats who dreams one day of making it big like Trevor Noah or an actress by the name of Meghan who grew up in Los Angeles and one day married a prince!

Does the title comment on the (conflicting) notion that power is dictated by either science or religion in a contemporary society?

Here is a pull-out quote from the novel which is relevant to the title:

“What happened here can only be described as a truly global effect of consciousness, almost like a global mind’s inchoate thoughts. Some would even go far enough to call it the Mind of God.”

What’s next? :D

Recovery from my stroke!! I need to get my strength and sanity back. But yes, Liz Greene will be back, in an environmental thriller. Watch this space :)

***

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“I wanted more scope for her … more focus on her virtues and flaws.” Madeline Miller discusses Circe with Diane Awerbuck

Published in the Sunday Times

Circe *****
Madeline Miller Bloomsbury, R295


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Men are pigs. Ask Homer, who wrote in the eighth century BCE about heroic Odysseus trying to get home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. In The Odyssey Homer devotes two chapters to Circe, a beautiful witch. When Odysseus and his weary sailors land on her island paradise, she turns them into pigs.

But Madeline Miller gives the goddess a makeover in her second brilliant novel, Circe. The great Odysseus gets a taut two chapters, and Circe has to teach herself “the simple mending of the world”.

Miller says she always starts a book with an idea about a character, and waits until she has a strong sense of their voice. Circe, traditionally “a sexy, dangerous witch, a villain, an obstacle to be overcome”, presented a challenge and an opportunity. “I wanted more scope for her,” says Miller, “more focus on her virtues and flaws” than the huge works of literature, such as The Odyssey and The Iliad, allow.

“I have a background in theatre, so I’m always imagining being in her skin, seeing through her eyes, hearing her delivering the monologue. I like it to feel organic. Natural. So it took me a long time to hear her voice.”

Seven years, to be exact. Not quite as long as it took Odysseus to circumnavigate the known and unknown world, but close. Miller sets out to rehabilitate the witch, and concludes that heroism comes in different forms.

Is Circe a feminist character? “Definitely,” says Miller. “I always felt her otherness.” Rejected by her Titan parents, considered a figure of fun by the other nymphs for her soft heart, and exiled to a faraway island, Circe teaches herself magic. She learns through bitter experience to deal both in healing and the darker arts.

Is writing a similar kind of witchcraft? “Absolutely, I recognise that,” says Miller. “It’s research and hard work and making it happen, day after day – but there is also that inexplicable thing that happens. Call it muse or intuition or inspiration, the way your mind shifts. But you also have to keep showing up.”

Miller has always been fascinated by stories. “I remember from the time I was five or so, my mother would read these epic tales to me, and I loved how big and exciting and real they felt. They were intense and adult – there were monsters, and grief and desire and pain and love.” Circe is so compelling because it is pacy but also literary: Miller writes so clearly and with such yearning and wisdom that the book is a spellbinding immersion in a terrifying, believable and satisfying universe.

It is at once familiar and unsettling. “Like the best cover songs,” I suggest, “the ones where the tune or the words are familiar but the singer has elevated it into a completely different experience.” Miller is unconvinced. “It’s not only songs,” she says. “As a writer I’m very conscious of being part of these epic narratives, both ancient and modern – from The Odyssey and The Iliad and all those guys, but also from Tennyson – the traditions established over millennia.”

And Miller’s own voice is utterly distinctive, keen and kind. Circe shows how experience transforms us: nymphs change into sea monsters; rapists morph into pigs; a heartless goddess becomes a selfless parent: “What creature,” Circe asks herself, “lies within me?”

Miller argues that being human is banal and unfair, but also wonderful and terrible. Men may become pigs, but the gods are worse: they are eternal. Mortals can be both heroes and monsters. We get the whole pantheon – grief, and desire, and pain, and love.

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Read an excerpt from Lesego Rampolokeng’s Bird-Monk Seding, shortlisted for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Published in the Sunday Times

Lesego Rampolokeng is a poet, word performer, and the author of 12 books, including two plays and three novels. He has collaborated with visual artists, playwrights, film-makers, theatre and opera producers, and musicians. His no-holds-barred style, radical political aesthetic and instantly recognisable voice have brought him a unique place in South African literature.

The gathered, sweating, angry-to-trembling Afrikaners in the dusty street want it to have been an attempt at rape. An assault on their grasping at white nationhood. The hands are on the guns. The trucks roar, eager to grab whoever it was. Old woman speaking, the one who lives in the house opposite, with her Parkinson’s-diseased geriatric husband who can only hobble a quarter step at a time from the door to the gate, and her divorced, middle-aged, bulimic daughter. She speaks fast, her squeaky vice trying to rise above the deep-throat growls of the trucks and their old-republic-clad occupants. She prattles fast about how i am a good person, i live in that little house behind the trees, i help out… and it is to not have them turn their murder-intent and fire attention on me… Yes, they gathered in, wanting it to have been an attempt at despoiling this white woman.

And the victim… she struts, the attention bringing a little colour, in vain, to her face. She is walking off her soles, bouncing, glad. She looks like crumpled khaki, like brown paper wrapper out in the elements too long. Like she has been through storms, wind, dust then drain-water drenched and cast out in the driving sun. Pink blotched some kind of symmetry across the face. Deep lined, the visage. Trenches cutting in and across. Thin to the bone, you can see the bones sticking out on both shoulders, desperately holding her shirt up. She bathes in the harsh light of her victimhood. For a change because always when she walks past, the boers look at her. Surreptitiously, the grimaces forming, and steal their glances away, never staring.

Ashamed.

She is no boeremeisie to hold up in pride of the Van Riebeeck and oom Paul Kruger old tradition. She hustles all – black, white – for money in the street. The pale skin peeling off her face. She collects and sells scrap metal across the freeway and…you need not be told but you can see the drug-hunger. The craze behind the skinless eyes.

This day her two children, 6 and 8, ran screaming down the dirt-street and cries filled the air. I ran out. And heard through the trees bordering our properties my AWB neighbour furiously saying, loud-voiced – i later learned it was into her telephone – ‘kom gou…kom gou’ and blabbering incoherently, other things. By the time i got to the gate there were three trucks and a couple of cars gathered in the street, guns on show. A police car arrives, and the police are bored, one yawning. It is Monday morning.

They don’t believe this rape story. The AWB neighbour, predatory, like the smell of blood was in the air and the wounded close by, was wafting and floating around, holding centre-court.

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Book Bites: 3 June

Published in the Sunday Times

Golden Prey
****
John Sandford, Simon & Schuster, R290

Sandford’s novels, featuring the independently wealthy and suave Minnesota detective Lucas Davenport, all have the word Prey in the title. After 28 books, not only the titles but the writing was getting a bit hackneyed. And then, voila! Sandford pulls a rabbit out of a hat. The latest Davenport mystery is back to his pacy, thrilling best as Davenport – now with the US Marshals service – hunts a brace of killers in Mississippi, racing against a mob torturer known as the “Queen of home improvement tools”. The plotting is good, the characterisation of the baddies chillingly convincing. Good to know that old Davenport still has some mileage in his crisply laundered chinos. William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

You Have to be Gay to Know God
*****
Siya Khumalo, Kwela Books, R255

We’ve all read the stories about how many members of the LGBTQI+ community in South Africa are treated badly because of who they are. And then we go on with our daily lives. Siya Khumalo does something else. His journey of growing up in a Durban township and being gay is narrated in the most perfectly painful way. As he searches for truth in a newly democratic South Africa, Siya’s story is filled with uncompromising and uncomfortable realities that many have never experienced. It’s a narrative we shouldn’t ignore and Siya’s brutally honest writing knocks at our conscience. There is no negotiation in this story. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

How I Lose You
***
Kate McNaughton, Doubleday, R290

This book is a sob fest. Don’t read it if you are still grieving over a loved one dying. Eva and Adam are married and they go out to a party in London. They have a good time, but the next morning Eva wakes up next to a cold Adam. Only 31 years old, he died in the night from a heart attack. Eva’s grief is palpable. McNaughton then takes us back in time to see how their love developed — a holiday in New York during 9/11, falling in love on a weekend away, fighting about jealousy and meeting each other’s parents. The whole gamut of a relationship. For fans of One Day and The Notebook. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

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Open Book Festival announces first group of authors

Via Open Book Festival

Throwback to a panel discussion at Open Book Fest 2016. ©Retha Ferguson

 
The first group of authors has been announced for the eighth Open Book Festival taking place from 5 to 9 September this year.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival offers a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances, and more. The festival also hosts the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica and various children’s and outreach programmes. Venues for the event include the Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre, the A4 Arts Foundation, and The Book Lounge in Cape Town, and are all within walking distance of one another. Selected events will also take place outside the city centre, such as at Elsies River Library and Molo Mhlaba School.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of the most innovative literature festivals in South Africa. It has twice been shortlisted for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s record 140 events, with ticket sales from previous years surpassed in the first two days. Open Book Festival is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill a love of reading among young attendees, with the programme designed to engage, entertain and inspire conversations among festival goers long after the event.

“We are once again compiling a phenomenal line up of authors, across a wide range of genres, to join us at the festival,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “We’ve put together a short preview of some of the authors joining us, to help plan your reading.”

The international authors include:

Author: Lesley Arimah (Nigeria / USA)
Books include: What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky
Why we’re excited: Lesley has been a finalist for the Caine Prize and a winner of the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize among other honors. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and her debut collection What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky won the 2017 Kirkus Prize.

Author: Jonas Bonnier (Sweden) joining us courtesy of the Swedish Embassy
Books include: The Helicopter Heist, Stockholm Odenplan
Why we’re excited: Jonas Bonnier is a novelist, screenwriter and journalist. His latest book, The Helicopter Heist is a gripping suspense thriller about the Västberga helicopter robbery. It has been sold to 34 territories.

Author: David Chariandy (Canada) joining us courtesy of Canada Council of the Arts
Books include: Brother, Soucouyant
Why we’re excited: David Chariandy won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2017 for Brother. The Guardian UK described it as ‘breathtaking…compulsive, brutal and flawless’. David’s debut novel, Soucouyant, received nominations from eleven literary awards juries.

Author: Anna Dahlqvist (Sweden)
Books include: It’s Only Blood
Why we’re excited: Anna Dahlqvist is a leading voice writing about women’s and girls’ rights. She is editor-in-chief of Ottar, a Swedish magazine focusing on sexuality, politics, society and culture.

Author: Nicole Dennis-Benn (Jamaica/USA) with thanks to the University of Stellenbosch for assisting with her joining us
Books include: Here Comes the Sun
Why we’re excited: Her debut novel, Here Comes The Sun, received a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a NPR Best Books of 2016, an Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016, a BuzzFeed Best Literary Debuts of 2016, among others.

Author: Guy Deslisle (Canada) joining us courtesy of Canada Council of the Arts
Books include: Hostage, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Burma Chronicles, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
Why we’re excited: Guy Deslisle is a cartoonist and animator, who is acclaimed for his graphic novels about his travels. His most recent book, Hostage, was longlisted for Brooklyn Public Library’s 2017 literary prize.

Author: Frankie Edozien (Nigeria/USA)
Books include: Lives of Great Men
Why we’re excited: Frankie Edozien is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of AFRrican Magazine. Lives of Great Men was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award. The Financial Times called the book ‘a fine contribution to the important work of pursuing equality and social justice on a global scale’

Author: Mariana Enriquez (Argentina) joining us courtesy of the Embassy of Argentina
Books include: Things We Lost in the Fire
Why we’re excited: Stories by Mariana Enriquez have appeared in anthologies of Spain, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia and Germany. The New York Times Book Review called Things We Lost in the Fire, ‘[P]ropulsive and mesmerizing, laced with vivid descriptions of the grotesque…and the darkest humor’.

Author: Aminatta Forna (Scotland/Sierra Leone/USA)
Books include: Happiness, The Hired Man, The Memory of Love.
Why we’re excited: Aminatta Forna’s award-winning work has been translated into eighteen languages. Her essays have appeared in Freeman’s, Granta, The Guardian, LitHub, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, The Observer and Vogue. She has written stories for BBC radio and written and presented television documentaries.

Author: Adam Smyer (USA)
Books include: Knucklehead
Why we’re excited: Adam Smyer’s debut novel Knucklehead is a refreshingly honest, fierce, intelligent, and often hilarious read.

“By setting his novel in the ’90s, Smyer, has crafted some brutal deja vu. As Marcus reflects on Rodney King, the Million Man March and the Oklahoma City bombing, we think of Freddie Gray, Black Lives Matter and school shootings that have become a way of life… Here we are more than 20 years on, and it’s only gotten worse. We should all be furious.” San Francisco Chronicle

Author: Mariko Tamaki (Canada) joining us courtesy of the Canada Council of the Arts
Books include: Skim, Emiko Superstar, This One Summer.
Why we’re excited: Mariko Tamaki is an acclaimed graphic novelist and author. In 2016 she began writing for both Marvel and DC Comics.

“A key objective of Open Book Festival is to celebrate the wealth of South African talent,” says Sloman. “We have a selection of the most insightful minds and compelling storytellers joining us. Here are a few.”

“We are looking forward to The Last Sentence, a psychological thriller and the debut novel from Tumelo Buthelezi and also to welcoming Ijangolet S Ogwang, whose novel An Image in a Mirror, is a richly told African coming-of-age story.”

Clinton Chauke’s Born in Chains: The Diary of an Angry ‘Born Free’ is a story of hope, where, even in a sea of poverty, there are those that refuse to give up and, ultimately, succeed. Journalist Rebecca Davis, author of Best White and Other Anxious Delusions will talk about her new memoir and journey on a spiritual quest.

Sorry, Not Sorry author Haji Dawjee joins us to discuss this revealing experience of moving through post-Apartheid South Africa as a woman of colour. “We are delighted to welcome back Judith February of the Institute for Security Studies, and author Pumla Dineo Gqola, whose book Reflecting Rogue was the best selling title at last year’s Festival,” says Sloman.

Nozizwe Jele has recently released her new novel, The Ones With Purpose. Happiness is a Four-Letter Word was Jele’s debut novel and won the Best First Book category (Africa region) in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011, as well as the 2011 M-Net Literary Award in the Film category. Playwright and theatre director Craig Higginson whose novels include The Dream House also joins the line-up to talk about his new novel, The White Room.

Siya Khumalo’s debut memoir, You Have to be Gay to Know God, is a powerful book dealing with gay identity. In Becoming Him, Landa Mabenge explores his own journey that includes being the first transgender man in South Africa to successfully force a medical aid to pay for his surgeries.

The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa sees an unraveling of the life that ambitious, social climber Bontle Tau was aiming for. Makholwa’s previous books include Black Widow Society, The 30th Candle and Red Ink. The Gold Diggers is the latest novel by Sue Nyathi (The Polygamist).It is a simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming chronicle of immigrant experiences.

Singer-songwriter and author Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning) returns to talk about her new collection, Intruders while in Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree, another festival regular Niq Mhlongo brings the complexities of Soweto to life on the page.

Zuki Wanner’s books include Men of the South which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize Africa Region for Best Book; London – Cape Town – Joburg and children’s book Refilwe. Her recent Hardly Working: A Travel Memoir of Sorts explores the politics of nations, and the ‘burden’ of travelling on an African passport.

SAPS Major General Jeremy Vearey also joins us to talk about Jeremy Vannie Elsies which chronicles his journey of growing up in Elsies River, from rough-and-tumble youngster to the head of the anti-gang unit in the Western Cape. Along the way he mastered the Communist Manifesto in Afrikaans, joined MK, and was sent to Robben Island for his role in the struggle.

The eighth Open Book Festival will take place from 5 to 9 September at the Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, The A4 Arts Foundation and The Book Lounge from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information and the full programme, which will be available in early August, visit www.openbookfestival.co.za

Bookings can be made at Webtickets: www.webtickets.co.za

Open Book Festival is organised in partnership with the Fugard Theatre, The District 6 Museum, The A4 Arts Foundation, The Townhouse Hotel, Novus Holdings, The French Institute, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Embassy of Sweden, The Embassy of Argentina, The Dutch Foundation for Literature, UCT Creative Writing Department, University of Stellenbosch English Department and Central Library and is sponsored by Leopards Leap, Open Society Foundation, Pan Macmillan, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball and Penguin Random House.

An Image in a Mirror

Book details

 
 
 
Born in Chains

 
 
 
 
 
Best White and Other Anxious Delusions

 
 
 
 

Sorry, Not Sorry

 
 
 
 

Reflecting Rogue

 
 
 
 

The Ones With Purpose

 
 
 
 

The Blessed Girl

 
 
 
 
 
The Gold Diggers

 
 
 
 
 
The Yearning

 
 
 
 
 
Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree

 
 
 
 
Jeremy vannie Elsies


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Make way for great South African Books: Exclusive Books celebrates local books and writing this June with its 2018 Homebru Campaign and free in-store catalogue

Exclusive Books, South Africa’s leading bookseller, celebrates South African authors this June with the launch of its annual Homebru campaign. There are more than 50 books in this year’s Homebru selection, and the languages represented include, in addition to English and Afrikaans, isiZulu, seSotho, isiXhosa and Sepedi.

Homebru 2018 features great fiction, biography, history, politics and current affairs, engaging children’s books, comics for young adults, poetry, cookery and more. Fanatics members earn double points on all titles, and the official 2018 Homebru catalogue is available to all members of the public for free in stores.

The books and authors featured represent a true slice of South African writing and include Mandy Wiener’s fascinating and disturbing Ministry of Crime, Schalk Bezuidenhout’s hilarious Truitjie roer my nie, Mpho Dagada’s inspiring Mr Bitcoin, Refiloe Moahloli’s delightful new children’s book, Tullula, Lukhanyo and Abigail Calata’s sobering memoir My Father Died for This, Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s fantastic second novel, The Ones with Purpose, and Dudu Busani-Dube’s epic romance Zulu Wedding, among dozens of other titles.

“Without local writers there would be far fewer local readers,” said Ben Williams, GM: Marketing for Exclusive Books. “It’s a great privilege to be able to promote these titles, and Homebru is always one of the most exciting times of the year for those who love great reads.”

Browse the 2018 Homebru selection at Exclusive Books Online:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/page/homebru-2018-great-books-made-in-sa

Exclusive Books is planning more than 30 events during the month of June to showcase its Homebru selection: watch out for invitations to its stores in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Bloemfontein. The full list of events will be online here:

http://blog.exclusivebooks.co.za/homebru-events/.

Select Homebru 2018 events:

Gauteng

Mandy Wiener: Ministry of Crime Book Signing
EB Bedford Centre
DATE Saturday, 02 June 2018
TIME 11:00 – 12:00
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Schalk Bezuidenhout: Truitjie roer my nie
EB Rosebank Mall
DATE Tuesday, 05 June 2018
TIME 18:00 vir 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Vimla Naidoo and Sahm Venter: I remember Nelson Mandela
EB Hyde Park Corner
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Mpho Dagada: Mr Bitcoin
EB Rosebank Mall
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Mpho Dagada: Mr Bitcoin
EB Menlyn
DATE Thursday, 07 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Refiloe Moahloli: Tullula – Children’s Reading
EB Mall of the South
DATE Saturday, 09 June 2018
TIME 10:00 for 10:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Lukhanyo and Abigail Calata: My Father Died for This
EB Hyde Park Corner
DATE Tuesday, 12 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Clinton Chauke: Born in Chains
EB Menlyn Park
DATE Tuesday, 12 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Nozizwe Cynthia Jele: The Ones with Purpose
EB Rosebank Mall
DATE Wednesday, 13 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Dudu Busani-Dube: Zulu Wedding
Bessie Head Library, PMB
DATE Saturday, 02 June 2018
TIME 10:00 – 12:00
RSVP email cheryln@exclusivebooks.co.za

Free State

Marinda van Zyl: Dors
NALN, Bloemfontein
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 17:30 vir 18:00
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Western Cape

Clinton Chauke: Born in Chains
EB Cavendish Square
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Joanne Jowell: Winging It
EB Cavendish Square
DATE Thursday, 07 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Ministry of Crime

Book details

 
 
 

Truitjie roer my nie

 
 
 

Tullula

 
 
 

My Father Died for This

 
 
 

The Ones With Purpose

 
 
 

Zulu Wedding


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“Barbetje had helped me with the first two births – the unsuccessful births. Motherhood had never been my desire.” Read an excerpt from Maxine Case’s Barry Ronge Prize shortlisted novel, Softness of the Lime

Published in the Sunday Times

Barbetje cleared her throat again.

“Just say what you want to say,” I told her, addressing her in English this time. My English was better than hers by then.

Barbetje ignored me and instead bustled about the kitchen while I watched her with defiant expectation. She took out two cups and saucers: not the good stuff the family used, but not the worst. She placed the sugar and a jug of milk next to them and then poured the tea that had been warming on the stove all morning into the cups. She stirred them briskly, then passed me one.

“Hot, sweet tea always makes me feel better,” she explained. I could believe it; she drank several cups a day.

“Why don’t we sit?” she suggested, pulling out a chair at the table. We seldom sat there; the table had always been reserved for the family, even once the misses left. When we worked we stood, but Barbetje was having none of that.

“My legs are sore.”

I sat down, since I knew that no one would actually tell me that I could not. Anyway, it was usually Barbetje who watched me, to make sure that I didn’t overstep my bounds, and if she told me to sit then I would sit. We sipped our tea in silence. I decided that I would not goad her to talk. Maybe I was afraid of what she’d say.

“His father was exactly the same,” Barbetje said, once I had nearly finished my tea.

I stirred the bottom of my cup, thinking that the words alone must have tasted like sugar on her tongue, but she had surprised me with the tea. Such a sweet irony, I thought, that Barbetje should be to one to show me how I too had been deluded enough to believe that a man like that would keep his word: “I will marry you one day; I will give our children my name”. That’s what he used to say on the nights he wanted to talk.

I was glad that Barbetje hadn’t required me to confirm the news of his marriage; she probably already knew, perhaps she was privy to the details. I didn’t know and I didn’t ask. I let her speak.

“Always promising one thing but doing another,” Barbetje said.

I wanted to ask her about the children she’d borne; I wanted to know what had happened to them, whether she’d thought they’d make a difference. I wanted to ask whether the old man had been able to sell his own flesh and blood. If his son was exactly like his father, I needed to know that.

Barbetje had helped me with the first two births – the unsuccessful births. Motherhood had never been my desire. Not to be hurtful, but it had never been my plan. The hopeful among us saw children as negotiating instruments, a tool when we had so little with which to bargain. Others bore children to punish, a constant reminder of the sins of the fathers. All those fathers sinning so unconscionably, ardently, what was another child when compared to able hands, strong arms, feet? A baby for some was gold, and if not gold, then silver.

A baby is not a bird…

I remembered the words from Rakota’s tale; had always wondered what it meant. Those words were the first thing that came to mind when I saw the child, the first one, a girl. Birdlike bones and damp feathers of hair like a newly hatched chick.

A baby is not a bird…

Barbetje’s words disturbed my thoughts. “‘n Stywe lat het geen konsensie nie,” she said, placing a hand on my shoulder.

It was true what she said. A stiff rod had no conscience.

Book details


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“Etienne sees only one face in the twilight crowd: Axel’s.” Read an excerpt from SJ Naudé’s Barry Ronge Prize shortlisted novel, The Third Reel

Published in the Sunday Times

The opening band is called Namenlos. They play their first song: Stunde Null is waiting behind the stage. Mindless copycats, Etienne thinks. Echolalic music.

There is a single prop in the middle of the stage: a huge grey-green sound recorder. A mute piece of equipment from some government office or other, built – so it seems – to withstand a nuclear war.

Christof – “our technical boffin”, as Frederick refers to him – tracked it down somewhere in Berlin and had it delivered.

They look at each other. Then the three gazes settle on Etienne. He isn’t sure what he should read into them. A plea? A threat? How does it happen that the three of them always simultaneously make the same demands? And that – this he is only realising now – a collective chill can emanate from them as suddenly as collective warmth?

Namenlos ends their session, leaves the stage.

Smoke is pumped out of the machines, enfolds the instruments. The four of them jump light-footedly onto the stage, one by one. Screams rise from the crowd. While they saunter to their positions, the huge sound recorder’s two reels start turning, magnetic tape tautened between them. Loud, declamatory male voices can be heard: speeches by the East and West German politicians interrupting each other, talking over each other until it becomes sheer cacophony. No single voice can any longer be distinguished from the others. Etienne enters with an extended drum roll, foot on the drum hammer’s pedal. Sparks fly when he rubs steel files over each other. Frederick emerges from the smoke behind the synthesiser: an ominous note is growing, a siren straight from hell.

They play. Play. As none of the echo-bands can.

They recycle noise from the void. It merges with the sounds of cars on highways, tractor engines and power plants’ furnaces. New noise ensues, killing old noise. And then it starts all over again. They have to let go of everything – extinguish everything – that preceded the noise. There is no longer any history, nor any future. No bodies and no consciousness. Everything is sound.

The surging crowd grinds the tomato field to a pulp. Stunde Null play ‘God’s Idiots’. They play ‘The Language of Men and Machines’. There is a moment of silence; the eclipse begins.

The four of them look at each other, then start playing ‘Sonnenfinsternis’. The moon punches a hole right through the sun. Below them everybody is going into a frenzy. A black cloud shifts over the whole of Germany, making everyone deaf.

The evening air lays a lulling hand on Etienne’s forehead. But it isn’t evening; it is afternoon. They are playing to drain the sun of its warmth. At the height of the solar eclipse they keep an impossibly long and cold note. Vibration from the blood. Then they let go. They chase the moon off, bring back the light.

Etienne sees only one face in the twilight crowd: Axel’s. Around him, people are rising and falling, as if under a vast sheet. Axel isn’t wearing any sunglasses, is looking at Etienne with naked eyes. Etienne plays his drums for the tree resin dripping from Axel’s back, for the childlike scribblings on his skin. For how small he looks underneath the German sky.

Around Axel, dozens of people have stripped their clothes off. Ready to follow the music’s commands, to march straight into the flames.

It takes a while before Etienne realises he is the only one still hitting the drums. The other three are watching him in silence. Somewhere they have lost each other. They know he is now playing for Axel only.

The crowd has been wounded, Etienne thinks as he touches his painful erection. They are covered in blood and slimy scraps of flesh. Like a scene of mass surgery – an open-air operation room, patients who start wandering when the anaesthetic fails. But what is actually clinging to them, is tomato pulp.

His three friends’ eyes have become cold. They no longer know him. Etienne looks out over the heads, finds Axel’s face.

The lyrics of the last two lines of ‘Sonnenfinsternis’ linger on “Everybody knows this is Nowhere/Follow the fire and it will guide you home.”

The Third Reel

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