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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Andrew Donaldson on Heinrich Gerlach’s “lost” fictional account of the Battle of Stalingrad, Sue Grafton’s passing, and Michael Wolff’s inside look at the sentient naartjie’s presidency

BACKSTORY’S MAKE FOR THE BEST STORIES

Breakout at StalingradSOMETIMES the story behind the publication of a novel can be even more extraordinary than the novel itself. This is certainly the case with Heinrich Gerlach’s Breakout at Stalingrad (Apollo), which is now published in English for the first time after being “lost” for 70 years. This is the original version of Gerlach’s 1957 classic of post-war literature, The Forsaken Army, an epic, fictionalised account of the battle of Stalingrad from the invading Germans’ point of view.

The 30-year-old Gerlach, an academic, was drafted as a reservist into the Wehrmacht in 1939, and in November 1942 was one of the 300 000 troops trapped by the Red Army outside Stalingrad. When the Germans surrendered in February 1943, only 91 000 remained. Gerlach, severely wounded, was one of them.

As a Soviet prisoner, he worked on an anti-Nazi newspaper, Free Germany. For this he was tried in absentia by the Nazis who sentenced him to death. He also worked on his novel, convinced the Soviets would allow its publication. They confiscated it instead. In 1950, the Soviets offered Gerlach his freedom – if he spied for them. He refused, but then changed his mind when he realised that failing to cooperate would result in a 25-year prison sentence. He was put on a train to Berlin where he was to meet his East German spymasters.

Fortunately, his train arrived hours early. The platform was empty. Gerlich hopped off and caught a local train to the western sector. In West Germany, he returned to teaching – and started afresh with his novel, taking a course in hypnosis to recall the contents of his confiscated manuscript. That 600-page manuscript, untouched for decades, was found in a Moscow archive in 2012 by Carsten Gansel, a researcher working on an unrelated project.

According to the London Sunday Times the differences between the two versions are instructive. “Where The Forsaken Army is almost thematically analytical, emphasising the deliberate betrayal of the army by Hitler and the Nazi leadership, the original Breakout at Stalingrad is more obviously built of viscerally immediate experiences.”

CRIMES & MISDEMEANOURS

Farewell, then, to Sue Grafton, author of the alphabetically titled detective series that began in 1982 with A Is for Alibi who passed away last month at 77.

The series’ female protagonist was introduced thus: “My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I’m thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind.”

The latest in the series, Y Is For Yesterday (Mantle) was published in August last year. At the time of her death, Grafton had been battling with a final, Z Is for Zero.

Grafton’s daughter, Jamie Clark, has said that it would not be completed. Her mother, she wrote on the author’s website, “would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

EVEN IN WESTERN EUROPE? YES, EVEN IN WESTERN EUROPE. . .

Fire and FuryDid you know Donald Trump pronounced Xi Jinping’s name as “Ex-ee”, and had to be reprogrammed to think of the Chinese president as a woman so that he would be able to pronounce “She” when they met? True story, apparently.

By now, most of us are familiar with the contents of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (Little, Brown); its revelations about the childlike nonentity now sometimes resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that made pre-publication headlines are now old news.

Reviews have been mixed. Most of his detractors have accused Wolff of unethical journalism. All those off-the-record comments from Steve Bannon, the most indiscreet of the author’s informants, now on-the-record? As critic Peter Conrad put it in The Observer, Wolff’s observation that Trump is “a symbol of the media’s self-loathing” is an indictment that applies to Wolff in particular.

Conrad does have a particularly elegant turn of phrase. “Fire and Fury,” he writes, “also gives the lowdown on the lacquered trompe-l’oeil that is Trump’s hairdo, with those tinted tendrils combed over a cranium that is totally bald and resonantly empty. But beyond such acts of exposure, what makes the book significant is its sly, hilarious portrait of a hollow man, into the black hole of whose needy, greedy ego the whole world has virtually vanished…”

Fire and the Fury has however found favour in North Korea. According to the country’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper, run by the ruling Workers’ Party, “The anti-Trump book is sweeping all over the world so Trump is being massively humiliated world-wide… Voices calling for the impeachment of Trump are on the rise not only in the United States but also abroad. Since the book was published, it has triggered a debate on whether Trump is qualified to be president, even in Western Europe.”


THE BOTTOM LINE

“Factory manufacture robs us of a special something: contemplation.” – Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands (WW Norton & Company)

Book details


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Exclusive Books grants grandmother’s birthday wish – to lock her up (in style!) in a bookshop for the night

South Africa’s leading bookseller has rung in the new year on a particularly joyful note by fulfilling the life-long dream of Mrs Carina Greyling of Kempton Park, Johannesburg, who had, according to her four children, listed being “locked inside an Exclusive Books for the night” as her top birthday wish.

Greyling turned 60 on Sunday 7 January and saw her wish granted at Exclusive Books’ Hyde Park store, where she was surprised with a pop-up bedroom, snacks and drinks, and the freedom to roam the store all night, browsing and reading to her heart’s content.

“How could we resist obliging Mrs Greyling’s birthday wish, especially given that she and I share the same birth date?” said Benjamin Trisk, CEO of Exclusive Books. “We supplied all the creature comforts necessary for spending a night in a bookshop, and trust that her stay was everything she hoped for.”

Trisk received the request from Greyling’s daughter, Leeanne Jonsson, via email in early December 2017. The email asked for the booksellers’ help in “planning an epic birthday surprise”.

“My mom is turning 60 on the 7th Jan 2018. When we asked her what she wants for her EPIC birthday – she said that she just wants to be locked in an Exclusive Books for the evening, with a flask of coffee, a blanket and unlimited access to read as many books as possible,” Jonsson wrote. “Probably the weirdest birthday wish ever – but that’s what makes her unique!”

“Exclusive Books is known for pulling stunts like this on occasion for special customers,” said Trisk. “We’ve assisted with a number of in-store marriage proposals, for instance, and feel that accommodating Mrs Greyling – literally – was very much was in keeping with the overall spirit of our brand.”.

Mrs Greyling was escorted to the Exclusive Books store by her children at 9pm, unaware of the surprise that lay in wait. She was delighted by the final twist that her birthday celebration had taken.

“I’ve always said that when it’s my time to go I hope heaven has a book shop – and I think it might look a bit like this,” said Mrs Greyling.

Her bed and pillows were supplied by Exclusive Books’ fellow Hyde Park tenant, Vencasa, which also included a R2000 voucher toward a sleep consultation and a special Tempur therapeutic pillow.

The birthday grandmother also received a R1000 Exclusive Books voucher to spend on her favourite reads.


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“Some people see dead people, crossword solvers see anagrams” – Jonathan Ancer interviews cruciverbalist George Euvrard

By Mila de Villiers

Jonathan Ancer recently bid AmaBookaBooka‘s 2017 series fare thee well with the academic and crossword setter, George Euvrard.

Described by Ancer, an avid crossword solver, as the “Tom to my Jerry; Moriarty to my Holmes; Lex Luthor to my Superman; Newman to my Seinfeld; and Gupta to my Gordhan”, the solver and the setter discussed Euvrard’s “proudly South African” compilation of crossword puzzles, JDE The Original South African Cryptic Crossword, anagrams, and adding a local is lekker twist to blokkiesraaisels. (Think ‘wragtig’, ‘eish’ and Venter trailers. Kief!)

Listen to their interactive – ja, you’re offered the opportunity to attempt (and re-attempt, and feel slightly dof when not getting it the first time round) to solve an anagram or two – conversation here:


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The best books of 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

Looking for book recommendations? Who better to ask than the people who create them. Spoiler alert: The Nix gets most votes…

Eusebius McKaiser (Run, Racist, Run)

It is unsurprising that the best local non-fiction titles of 2017 are also the most predictable. They have had public success and rightly so. These include, for me, The Republic of Gupta by Pieter-Louis Myburgh, The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw, Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang, Khwezi by Redi Tlhabi, Reflecting Rogue by Pumla Dineo Gqola and Democracy & Delusion by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh. They deserve to be read, and engaged, as an anthology that brilliantly captures the capture of the state, the danger our democracy is in, the elusive promise of exile that one day home will be safe again, rape culture’s persistence, our various identity journeys and crises that endure, and the disillusionment of the youth with the neocolonial leadership of the ANC government. Painful but urgent truths.

Karin Brynard (Our Fathers)

Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead was a late discovery for me. I devoured all three of her novels, but Gilead took my breath away. The prose alone felt like a religious experience, never mind the themes of belonging, redemption, salvation and grace. The Third Reel by SJ Naudé – a two-fisted exploration of art, politics, loss and love – left me reeling. Naudé is destined for a great career. I first read A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg by Harry Kalmer in Afrikaans some years back. I’m glad this gem of a book will now reach a wider audience. Johannesburg is like a bedeviled wife. You eventually become besotted with her. Kalmer shows you how. Having read Paul McNally’s The Street, an excellent real- life account of life on a particular street in Joburg, I no longer marvel at the depths of depravity in our politics.

Paige Nick (Unpresidented)

The Nix by Nathan Hill. It’s a fantastic, immersive, topical read that spans lives and decades. The basic plot revolves around an underachieving writer forced to face his mother, who abandoned him as a child. But it’s about so much more than that, including American politics. Good Cop, Bad Cop by Andrew Brown is riveting non-fiction that changed the way I think about South African divides: humanity, townships, crime and policing. It should be prescribed reading for every South African – law enforcement and politicians in particular. I ugly cried and ugly laughed on consecutive pages. Dark Traces by Martin Steyn is one of the most gripping, graphic, dark and twisty crime thrillers I’ve read. Set in the world of a cop investigating teenage girls who go missing, this is a book of much evil for poor Detective Magson, and the brave reader.

Achmat Dangor (Dikeledi)

All The Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan is a riveting story about a passionate love affair between an Israeli Jewish woman and a Palestinian Muslim man that embroils them in all kinds of turmoil. It bravely crosses ethnic and religious “rivers” that divide people. Exit West by Mohsin Mohammed is told through the eyes of a young couple – Saeed and Nadia – who flee from an unnamed city during a civil war. It explores the traumas that migrants and refugees face, without ever descending into rhetoric. To leave their country, they use a magical system of fictitious doors to places around the world, and the story, as it unfolds, introduces us to a new version of “magical realism”.

Hamilton Wende (Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut)

I’m researching a novel on Ancient Rome and Africa at the moment, so my two best books of the year hands-down are: The Annals of Imperial Rome by Tacitus. Its blood and sex-filled chronicle of betrayal and survival across the Roman Empire is as good as anything in Game of Thrones. My second book of the year is Satires by Juvenal. His descriptions of the excesses of Rome are breathtaking: perfumed wine drunk from conch shells at midnight oyster suppers, dizzy ceilings spinning round and dancing tables. The Roman world without too much politics!

Ray Hartley (Ramaphosa: The Man Who Would Be King)

New Times by Rehana Rossouw brings to life a journalist covering the first years of the Nelson Mandela presidency – and dealing with deep personal issues – with such raw brilliance that it is startling. I was gripped and could not put it down.

Karina Szczurek (The Fifth Mrs Brink)

The following books provided me with intellectual, emotional and aesthetic joy: Ingrid Winterbach’s deeply satisfying novel The Shallows; Hedley Twidle’s great essay collection Firepool: Experiences in an Abnormal World; Sara-Jayne King’s remarkable and moving memoir Killing Karoline; the highly entertaining Rapid Fire: Remarkable Miscellany by John Maytham; Anne Fadiman’s touching tribute to her father, The Wine Lover’s Daughter: A Memoir; and the visionary, beautiful Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World by Lyndall Gordon.

Mike Nicol (Agents of the State)

Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton is a funny, insightful novel about contemporary life. The Cape Town setting is a bonus. Queen of the Free State by Jennifer Friedman captures the quizzical voice of a young girl growing up in the 1950s. It’s charming. And then the massive Apartheid Guns and Money by Hennie van Vuuren revealed everything we had expected but were too afraid to acknowledge.

Malebo Sephodi (Miss Behave)

Grace by Barbara Boswell will have you gasping at every turn. Her word use is absolutely delicious and the weaving of the story is close to perfection. I would love a sequel because the protagonist has never left me since I read the book months ago. I find myself wondering how she’s coping. If I Stay Right Here by Chwayita Ngamlana. This experimental fiction had me crossing legs. Shifting. Crying. Triggered.

Steven Sidley (Free Association)

The Nix by Nathan Hill is a sprawling tour de force of style and story and character, the great American novel of the year. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry is about forbidden love, deprivation and redemption, the poverty and danger of the American 1850s, told through the eyes and vernacular of a teenage refugee from the famine of Ireland. A masterpiece. Midwinter by Fiona Melrose – a story of two tragedies on two continents and its effects on a father and son, who through mutual awkwardness, incoherent grief and rage play out against their attempts at love and family in the deep and muddy earth of county Suffolk in England.

Diane Awerbuck (South)

Nick Mulgrew’s The First Law of Sadness is tied for first place with Koleka Putuma’s Collective Amnesia. They are both what I love and look for in fiction and poetry: truth in all its awkward beauty. I also love that you can see these two perform their work, because they’re local, and because they care.

Tony Park (The Cull)

The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith, who writes sparingly yet beautifully and still manages to produce a gripping page turner. A disillusioned veteran of Mussolini’s dirty war in Africa returns to civilian life as a fisherman in his native Venice, which is still under Nazi Occupation. Into his lap lands a beautiful, rich woman on the run. Perfect. The Cuban Affair by Nelson Demille is a good example of how an author can try something different without alienating fans. Ex Afghanistan veteran “Mac” MacCormick is lured out of retirement to take a Cuban-American woman back to her ancestral home to rescue a store of treasure. Mac reflects Demille’s own experiences and many others who return home glad to be out of a war zone but missing the military and a life less predictable. He paints a picture of a Cuba crumbling under Communism, but also squeezes in enough rum and rhumba to make me want to visit.

Book details

The Nix

 
 
 

Run Racist Run

 
 
 

The Republic of Gupta

 
 
 

The President's Keeper

 
 
 

Always Another Country

 
 
 

Khwezi

 
 
 

Reflecting Rogue

 
 
 

Democracy and Delusion

 
 
 

Our Fathers

 
 
 

Gilead

 
 
 

The Third Reel

 
 
 

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg

 
 
 

The Street

 
 
 

Unpresidented

 
 
 

Good Cop, Bad Cop

 
 
 

Dark Traces

 
 
 

All the Rivers

 
 
 

Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut

 
 
 

The Annals of Imperial Rome

 
 
 

Satires

 
 
 

Ramaphosa: The man who would be king

 
 
 

New Times

 
 
 

 
 
 

The Shallows

 
 
 

Firepool

 
 
 

Rapid Fire

 
 
 

The Wine Lover's Daughter

 
 
 

Outsiders

 
 
 

Agents of the State

 
 
 

Being Kari

 
 
 

Queen of the Free State

 
 
 

Apartheid Guns and Money

 
 
 

Miss Behave

 
 
 

Grace

 
 
 

If I Stay Right Here

 
 
 

Free Association

 
 
 

Days Without End

 
 
 

Midwinter

 
 
 

South

 
 
 

The First Law of Sadness

 
 
 

Collective Amnesia

 
 
 

The Cull

 
 
 

The Girl from Venice

 
 
 

 
 
 


» read article

Our guide to the best holiday reads

Published in the Sunday Times

So much to read, so little time … here are some good places to start, with an emphasis on excellent local authors


BIOGRAPHY

Khwezi: The Remarkable Story Of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, Redi Thlabi (Jonathan Ball Publishers): One of the absolute must-read books of the year, it’s the harrowing tale of Khwezi, the rape trial and the consequences of President Jacob Zuma’s acquittal.

65 Years of Friendship, George Bizos (Umuzi): The human rights lawyer lovingly reflects on his friendship with Nelson Mandela.

FUN

Hasta la Gupta, Baby!, Zapiro (Jacana Media): The latest collection from the cartoonist/political analyst/agent provocateur.

Unpresidented, Paige Nick (B&N): Another hilarious satire from the columnist and writer — this time about No1.

Rapid Fire: Remarkable Miscellany, John Maytham (Tafelberg): Random trivia collected by the talkshow host from his Rapid Fire insert on CapeTalk.

POLITICS

How to Steal a City: The Battle For Nelson Mandela Bay, Crispian Olver (Jonathan Ball Publishers): An insider’s account of the corruption and clean-up of the municipality.

Ramaphosa: The Man Who Would be King, Ray Hartley (Jonathan Ball Publishers): Hartley looks at how Ramaphosa has handled the key challenges he has faced in the unions, in business and in politics.

The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and out of Prison, Jacques Pauw (Tafelberg): The explosive book that has got the nation talking about Zuma’s shadow mafia state.

A Simple Man: Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma, Ronnie Kasrils (Jacana Media): The revelatory history of the two men.

CRIME

What Have We Done, JT Lawrence (Pulp Books): Dystopian thriller series set in Johannesburg in 2036 in which the heroine Kate has to save her loved ones from The Prophecy.

Spire, Fiona Snyckers (Clockwork Books): A box of frozen viruses is brought to Spire, a remote research station in Antarctica, and within days people are dying of diseases.

Bare Ground, Peter Harris (Picador Africa): The first novel from the Alan Paton winner is packed with political and corporate intrigue, with insights into the society we have become.

Bad Seeds, Jassy Mackenzie (Umuzi): Joburg private investigator Jade de Jong tracks down a saboteur in a race to prevent a nuclear disaster.

The Cull, Tony Park (Pan Macmillan): Former mercenary Sonja Kurzt is hired by a British tycoon to lead an elite anti-poaching squad to take down the kingpins, but the body count starts rising.

FINE FICTION

Tin Man, Sarah Winman (Tinder Press): Bestseller author of When God Was a Rabbit pens a delicate and tender novel of friendship and loss.

New Times, Rehana Rossouw (Jacana Media): As Mandela begins his second year as president, political reporter Ali Adams discovers that his party is veering off the path. She follows the scent of corruption.

Dikeledi, Achmat Dangor (Picador Africa): A family saga set in a time of forced removals and the creation of bantustans.

My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent (HarperCollins): It’s fraught, harrowing and divisive – some critics can’t stop raving about Tallent’s debut novel, others not so much.

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Bloomsbury): The Man Booker prize-winning novel is an original literary experience. Abraham Lincoln visits his dead son Will in a graveyard filled with ghosts.

The Golden House, Salman Rushdie (Jonathan Cape): Nero Golden and sons move to the US under suspicious circumstances.

QUICK FICTION

The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman (Simon & Schuster): Prequel to the much-loved Practical Magic, this features the witchy family in 1950s New York.

Wolf Trap, Consuelo Roland (Jacana Media): Paolo Dante must save her adopted daughter from a criminal mastermind.

Did You See Melody?, Sophie Hannah (Hodder & Stoughton): Hannah transports the reader to a sunny Arizona spa where a cast of characters are all suspects in an old missing-child case.

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (Little Brown): A hearty slice of American life in the Clinton era.

The Blessed Girl, Angela Makholwa (Pan Macmillan): Bontle Tau has to juggle her family and friends and all the men in her life wanting to give her emotional and financial support.

The Break, Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph): Amy’s husband decides he wants a break from their marriage and children, and to lose himself in South Asia.

Sleeping Beauties, Stephen King and Owen King (Hodder & Stoughton): The prolific writer and his son team up to tell the tale of a mysterious sleeping syndrome in a women’s prison.

NON-FICTION

Always Another Country, Sisonke Msimang (Jonathan Ball Publishers): One of the most searing voices of contemporary South Africa, this is Msimang’s candid and personal account of her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, college years in North America, and returning to the country in the ’90s.

Dare Not Linger, Nelson Mandela and Mandla Langa (Pan Macmillan): The remarkable story of Mandela’s presidency told in his own words is finished off by Mandla Langa.

I Am, I Am, I Am, Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press): The writer chronicles 17 of her own near misses with death.

The Fifth Mrs Brink, Karina M Szczurek (Jonathan Ball Publishers): A soul-baring memoir of Szczurek’s life before, with and after her marriage to André P Brink.

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery, Scott Kelly (Doubleday): The astronaut’s gripping adventures of his year on the International Space Station in 2015.

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions, David Attenborough (John Murray): The man who made nature cool gives a record of the voyages he did for the 1950s BBC show The Zoo Expeditions.

Outsiders, Lyndall Gordon (Little Brown): A profound investigation into the lives and works of Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf.

I’ll Take the Sunny Side, Gordon Forbes (Bookstorm): Memoirs from the author of A Handful of Summers and Too Soon to Panic.

GIFT

Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds, Yemisi Aribisala (Pan Macmillan): This down-to-earth collection from Aribisala, uses food as a lens to observe Nigerian society.

A Hat, a Kayak and Dreams of Dar, Terry Bell (face2face): In 1967 journo Bell and wife Barbara were living in exile in London when they decided to go back to Africa by paddling from England to Dar es Salaam in a 5m kayak.

Shisanyama: Braai Recipes from South Africa, Jan Braai (Bookstorm): Jan Braai’s first crowd-sourced cookbook.

The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur (Simon & Schuster): The poet’s second collection is proving to be as popular as her first.

Way of the Wolf, Jordan Belfort (Hodder & Stoughton): The Wolf of Wall Street reveals his step-by-step playbook on making the sale.

The Curse of Teko Modise, Nikolaus Kirkinis (Jacana Media): How Modise overcame poverty to become “the General” and one of South Africa’s best footballers.

Collective Amnesia, Koleka Putuma (Uhlanga Press): A bestselling poetry collection that hits all of the emotions.

From Para to Dakar, Joey Evans (Tracey Macdonald Publishers): Evans shares how he faced the toughest challenges to fulfil his dream of competing in the 2017 Dakar Rally.

200 Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World, Geoff Blackwell, Ruth Hobday, Kieran Scott (Bookstorm): The women, from a variety of backgrounds, are asked the same five questions and their answers are inspiring.

Book details

Khwezi

 
 
 

65 Years of Frienship

 
 
 
 
Hasta la Gupta, baby!

 
 
 
 
Unpresidented

 
 
 
 
Rapid Fire

 
 
 
 
How To Steal A City

 
 
 
 
Ramaphosa: The man who would be king

 
 
 
 
The President's Keeper

 
 
 
 
A Simple Man

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Bare Ground

Bare Ground by Peter Harris
EAN: 9781770105812
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 
 
Bad Seeds

 
 
 
 
The Cull

 
 
 
 
Tin Man

 
 
 
 
New Times

 
 
 
 
Dikeledi

 
 
 
 
My Absolute Darling

 
 
 
 
Lincoln in the Bardo

 
 
 
 
The Golden House

 
 
 
 
The Rules of Magic

 
 
 
 
Wolf Trap

 
 
 
 
Did You See Melody?

 
 
 
 
Little Fires Everywhere

 
 
 
 
The Blessed Girl

 
 
 
 
The Break

 
 
 
 
Sleeping Beauties

 
 
 
 
Always Another Country

 
 
 
 
Dare Not Linger

 
 
 
 
I am, I am, I am

 
 
 
 
The Fifth Mrs Brink

 
 
 
 
Endurance

 
 
 
 
Adventures of a Young Naturalist

 
 
 
 
Outsiders

 
 
 
 
I'll Take the Sunny Side

 
 
 
 
Longthroat Memoir

 
 
 
 
A hat, a kayak

 
 
 
 
Shisanyama

 
 
 
 
the sun and her flowers

 
 
 
 
Way of the Wolf

 
 
 
 
The Curse Of Teko Modise

 
 
 
 
Collective Amnesia

 
 
 
 
From Para to Dakar

 
 
 
 
200 Women


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“I’m not trying to do anything except make pictures that challenge Roger Ballen” – a conversation with Roger Ballen

By Mila de Villiers

Roger Ballen. ©Alternative Print Workshop.

 
If you’re familiar with Die Antwoord, images of an anomalous Johannesburg, or raw photos of South Africa’s rural Afrikaans communities, you’ve probably come across Roger Ballen.

Ballen, whose photographic career spans over forty years, recently released Ballenesque, a monograph consisting of his oeuvre and previously unpublished images. ‘Ballenesque’ has become synonymous with his style which, over the past twenty years, has moved from being partly documentary to one that incorporates elements of drawing, painting, installation, and video.

As the photographic artist himself explains in his deep, measured voice: “This integration of medias has allowed me to create an aesthetic that is referred to as Ballenesque.”

I’m seated across Ballen in his large, well-lit office in Parktown, Johannesburg. The walls are adorned with framed images of his work. Stuffed animals, including a baboon, a serval and an aardvark, greet you once you enter the office space. He promises to acquaint me with the office rat (Stoffel).

As Ballen’s mother was involved with the Magnum Agency in New York, Ballen – who holds a PhD in geology – was introduced to photography at a young age, publishing his first book, Boyhood, at 28.

Boyhood consists of black and white images of boys, comprised mostly of a trip made from Cape Town to Cairo between 1973 and 1978.


Cover-Up, Indonesia, 1976.
 
Ballen describes Boyhood as “a trip into my own childhood. So all my pictures from those days had a psychological edge to them, an existential edge.”

Existentialism features heavily in Ballen’s work and he is renowned for having stated that “nothing” is the most profound word in the English language.

“Well, where do you come from, and where are you going?” Ballen reasons. “That’s the quandary everybody faces, that nothing can happen in a second from now. Then what?”

And does he think that’s a driving force for people?

Ja,” the native New Yorker responds. ”That’s the death instinct. It’s the thing that drives everything on the planet.

“That’s the purpose of what I’m doing. It’s the most fundamental force in anything alive, it’s dealing with the survival instinct … the need to stay alive in a hostile environment, especially in nature.”
 
 
 
 
Froggy Boy, USA, 1977.

“Hostile environments” and “nature” reminds me of Dorps, Ballen’s photographic series of dorpies shot in and around rural South Africa – not quite as Ballenesque as his more recent work, yet still stark, gritty, and – in classic Ballen style – black and white. Did Ballen’s profession as geologist propel him to study rural South Africa?

Ballen came back to South Africa in 1982, after having completed his PhD in geology, and at that time “there wasn’t a place on the planet that was more advanced in mining, metallurgy, mineral exploration.

“It was an interesting country and the people here at the time were very hospitable to me and it felt like I could make a difference here, I guess.”

Old Man, Ottoshoop, 1983.

 
Ballen made a gradual move to shooting poor, marginalised Afrikaans communities in South Africa, as portrayed in Platteland.

Platteland was photographed between 1986 and 1994 – pivotal dates in our country’s history, with ’86 defined by the declaration of a state of emergency, and ’94 the advent of democracy.

How did an American geologist-cum-photographer “convince” armblankes to be subjects of his work during these turbulent years?

The conversation is interrupted by lively cooing from the speckled dove in a cage in the corner of his office, later introduced to me as Icarus.

Icarus.

 
“He likes you,” Ballen says, eyes drifting towards the dove, a look of affection crossing his face. “He’s listening, he’s saying ‘watch yourself there!’” [Cue hearty laughter.]

Photographing strangers can “happen quite spontaneously. You might find somebody in a shop and you talk to them and they invite you over for tea,” Ballen furthers.

Sgt F de Bruin, Dep of Prison Employees, OFS, 1992.

 
“I always have had a good relationship with the people that I have photographed over the years. I can hardly remember having a negative or hostile experience in anyway.

“Most importantly, I have always believed that the subject should benefit in some way from the experience whether it be my buying them food, clothing, or medicine, paying them for their work, or just listening and empathizing. Without any doubt, I feel that the people that I have worked with over the years have been much more hospitable towards me that many of the well-off people that I have encountered.

“I didn’t necessarily go there with somebody to make fun of people and cause issues; I’m still friendly with a lot of these people 30 years later. They message me, or call me. I can feel it in my pocket,” he says patting his trouser pocket in which his phone had just vibrated.

Photography isn’t just a matter of “finding somebody who you think has an interesting face and taking their picture,” he continues. “It’s very, very difficult and in fact it takes a great photograph that has some lasting power. For something to rise above the ‘normal’, to have some sort of effect on people’s subconscious mind, is very difficult.”

Man shaving on veranda, Western TVL, 1986.

 
The struggle to capture photos with lasting power is perpetuated by the billions of images we’re confronted with on a daily basis and an inability to “separate the more artistic level of photography from the more mundane,” Ballen states.

This begs the question whether social media platforms are nullifying or destroying photography.

“I use these things myself. I Instagram. It’s a means of exchanging information. The problem is the evaluation of these images.”

PSA, Kim K fans: you better stop reading here…

“The Kardashian woman takes a picture of her shoe on the floor and it gets two million hits. Or her cigarette that she just smoked and it gets five million hits. But the picture’s horrible. My dog could almost take the picture. But it had five million hits!” he incredulously declares.

“Monetary value, or the “like”-value, effects how you see the picture. It’s very confusing.”

Ballen is uncertain about whether this problem can be solved or addressed productively.

“You know I’m a geologist – see the rocks there?” he asks, pointing towards a collection of rocks aligned on the window sill, “that goes to a lab and the lab will tell you exactly if you want to know how much copper is in a block. Look at this picture,” he proceeds, indicating to one of his framed images, “is it good or bad? Do you like it? That one doesn’t like it. So you have this enormous subjectivity involved in this media. This is why it’s a confusing subject.”

Since 1997, the year in which Ballen’s Outland project was produced, his work has progressed into a style described as “documentary fiction”.

Ballen defines “documentary” as en external experience and regards “fiction” as something your imagination creates. The images in The Outland, Boarding House and Shadow Chamber feature Johannesburg’s “fringe” characters, often wearing masks, captured in confined spaces, drawings and marks etched on the walls. A sense of the abnormal and outlandish is created.

Since we, as humans, occupy space both physically and mentally, I’m curious to know whether Ballen intentionally shoots these peripheral people in confined spaces as means to capture the place where the mental “meets” the physical.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One Arm Goose, 2004. (L)
Cut Loose, 2005. (R)
 
“The first thing you have to realise is that whatever I’m saying, I’m saying visually,” the artist answers. “I’ve always stated that if I can talk about the picture in precising words, it’s probably a bad picture. That’s the first step. That’s what differentiates me from most South African photographers – I’m not a political photographer; I’m psychological.

“Dealing with aesthetics and, more importantly, trying to reach the subconscious mind and transform the subconscious mind of myself and expand the subconscious of myself and hopefully others… The issue is I’m not trying to do anything except make pictures that challenge Roger Ballen.”

His work certainly is psychological, but it isn’t his intention to elicit a certain response from audiences, questioning the meaning of “the response”.

“What is a response if somebody finds them disturbing and humorous at the same time? What is the response? What would you call that?

“They’re mindscapes,” he says of his photos.

“They’re real scapes and they’re mindscapes and the reason they have an effect on you is they have an ability to enter your mind and your mind doesn’t … your mind is unclear how to react to them.

“The pictures, to have to have an effect, have to break through your repression, unleash your repression, and reach some so-called “core place”. The issue is that the pictures have to have an ability to get at somebody and challenge people’s status; that’s my goal.”

Ballen explains that his photos present a part of your being which you’re unaccustomed to.

“‘Disturbing’ is not really the right word – they’re unleashing. They’re presenting a segment of yourself, which you’re not used to you. It’s like if you’re looking in a mirror, especially when you’re tired or you’re sick – you get a little bit of a shock, you know? And you say “Shit, is that me? I can’t believe it”.”

In the accompanying video for Outland, shot by local filmmaker Ben Jay Crossman, one of the “fringe” characters to feature in the work, a man named  Stanley who catches and releases rats on a daily basis, tells Ballen how “Ben can’t believe his eyes with all these people around here.” Is this something people often comment on? Has he ever been asked if he attempts to “normalise” the “abnormal”?

Head Below Wires, 1999.

 
“I’m not very clear about normality at all. I’m not convinced about normality. I’m not convinced about abnormality, either. These terms you used – in a way to protect people’s subconscious minds, they classify abnormality and normality. And if somebody is abnormal they don’t have to deal with it in certain ways. Obviously I’m not talking about the extremes, there are a lot of people who have serious biological, physiological problems…”

Five Hands, 2006.

 
Ballen dislikes the claims that he’s appropriating or exploiting the people he photographs as, for the last 15 years, he’s “finally had a face in the picture. So when we talk about Roger Ballen’s work, like in the last 10 years almost, it’s always been about animals. What does he think? [This question is asked whilst indicating towards Icarus.] He likes it? He’s fed up with these comments. He’s thinking “why are you always talking about people?” We’re trying to use our own words to define his reality and you don’t understand his reality, you never will.”

Although Ballen does not like to use the word “inspiration”, he discloses that “if somebody pointed a gun to my head, I would probably say [Samuel] Beckett.” This in response to his work having been compared to Diane Arbus’s, something Ballen disputes; especially the type of work he did in Platteland.

“There was an aspect of people living in these places who were marginalised, living on the edge, who weren’t coping, who were strange … there was some correspondence between what Diane Arbus was doing and what I was doing. But at the beginning of Outland, about ’97, there was a real divergence between what she was doing and what I did. Outland was focused on human absurdity; Diane Arbus wasn’t interested in that. Roger Ballen Theatre started to come about; Diane Arbus wasn’t interested in that.”

Clockwise from top left: Altercation, 2012. Devour, 2013. Tommy, Samson and a Mask, 2000.

Ballen’s love of – and appreciation for – animals is evident in his work, and he has two books dedicated to animals, including Asylum of the Birds. Absentmindedly waving in the direction of the dove as I ask what it is about birds that intrigues him, he tells me “Icarus. His name’s Icarus.

“My first-grade teacher was obsessed by Greek mythology. In fact, the first book that I bought without my parents intervention was the Iliad and the Odyssey. My favorite character in Greek mythology was Zeus as he was the ultimate God. I remember climbing Mount Olympus and feeling his presence.

“Greek myths are really revealing,” Ballen continues. “They’re like dreams. There was something nice about being able to … reassuring to call a beautiful bird after something special about doing it. The name has a very strong, warm, positive feeling in my mind. To use the word is actually soothing in a way. Instead of calling him some pseudo-yuppie name.”

Smiling, he rhetorically states “He’s a nice bird, hey?”

Ballen owns “a lot” of birds, and has “some place where I keep about 300 owls. But not as pets. I like all animals.”

Rats, especially, feature prominently in his photos. Why does he finds this singular rodent so remarkable?

“I believe the rat is the most intelligent species on the planet based on their brain size. I own many as pets and am amazed at their ability to learn,” he responds.

“The rat lives everywhere on the planet, can eat almost anything, and is able to survive in the most difficult of environmental circumstances. In western cultures rats are looked down upon, but ultimately, they are a product of nature and no better or no worse than any other species.”

Besides rats, Ballen’s animal photography includes images of pigeons, snakes, pigs, and goats. Ballen attributes his photographing of these “ordinary” animals to the setting of his photos.

“All the pictures I take are on the inside … inside buildings. So you wouldn’t necessarily find a tiger or a rhinoceros inside some room in Johannesburg. That really would be a little bit strange. A lion inside a room … somebody asleep on top of a lion,” he replies, chortling.

His interest in taking pictures of animals and in animal psychologies started as a teen, he adds.

“I’ve always been interested in the animal side of the human behaviour and the primitive side of the mind and the relationship ultimately between humans and animals and how this relationship is distorted by contemporary life.”

Ballen critiques Disney, citing that one of the reoccurring motifs – “all the animals love the people, and the people love the animals, and they get along” – creates the wrong idea of the historic relationship between animals and humans.

Puppy Between Feet, 1999.

 
“There’s a fundamental fear of nature; this is part of the genes of the species. There’s fundamental dislike of nature. We need to control nature because of this genetic evolution of the species. So in fact there’s no real harmonious relationship between humans and nature.”

In the majority of his photos featuring animals, Ballen will have the person in the photo holding or cuddling the animal. To what extent does he “direct” a photo?

“Every picture is different, first of all. There’s always this relationship in my pictures between what could have been there, what is spontaneous, and what I could have put there. So you always have that so-called tension in a lot of the pictures. 

“I always say the pictures are interactive, and that’s all you can say. And ultimately they’re pictures that Roger Ballen created; images that nobody else could create. So Roger Ballen is a Roger Ballen world, so yes, they’re all – they exist as pictures as a result of Roger Ballen. That’s it. That’s what they are. They don’t exist spontaneously. They don’t exist spontaneously because they’re ways of organising the world through a camera and through your mind.”

One can’t speak to Ballen without enquiring about his collaboration with Die Antwoord, considering he directed the music video for the zef-rap-rave duo’s 2012 hit, I Fink U Freeky.

Shack scene, Johannesburg, 2012.

 
Ballen’s aesthetic is palpable in the video. Think Ninja in a loincloth. Yo-Landi wearing black contact lenses. The walls covered with unsettling drawings and marks. And rats. Many, many rats.

Unfortunately Ballen can’t remember whether any of the rats were his own.

“That’s a really good question,” he replies, brow furrowed. “I think they were … I think they were my rats. But Yo-Landi had some rats at the time. I introduced her to rats.”

Zef culture, as popularised by Die Antwoord, and Ballen’s style wouldn’t necessarily be described as congruent; it was with their introduction to Ballen’s Outland that “they stopped doing whatever they were doing and reinvented themselves as Die Antwoord. It had a major effect on them,” Ballen explains.

“My aesthetic hit their subconscious mind in some way that they saw something in the work that inspired them to move in another direction. Yo-Landi contacted me, they wanted to show me their videos, they wanted to do a project with me.”

This correspondence went on for a number of years and when I Fink U Freeky was produced it went “totally viral. Totally viral.” (The video currently has over 107 million views. Sjoe.)

It’s surprising that Ballen’s art features in a music video, as his response to an interviewer enquiring what music one should listen to while perusing his work, was “no music”. Did he ever imagine that he would collaborate with musicians?

“I didn’t have many expectations, this happened all spontaneously. If music is used as a vehicle with somebody with more musical skills than myself to create a … Extending the reality of my imagery and my aesthetic, well that’s great. I’m happy … The most important thing I saw was the power of the video. Since then … I don’t know if you saw Asylum of the Birds?”

I answer in the affirmative.

“And The Outland video, and The Ballenesque video. I don’t think I’d ever have done that if it wasn’t for I Fink U Freeky. I didn’t realise how my imagery and what I’m doing could be transformed to moving image. This was a really important event in my career.”

In light of Ballen’s recent The Theatre of Apparitions video, one wonders whether he’s considering doing similar audiovisual work in the future.

Face Off, 2010.

 
“Definitely. I have a new project now,” is the enthusiastic response.

“It’s like this animated, well, it’s like a cartoon-figure I’ve been working with in the photographs. The photographs are animated. So this cartoonish type of character that’s involved in situations most people would not do, or can’t do. So it’s symbolic of liberation and mischievousness.”

Is he by any chance extending himself into this character with “free reigns”? Would he describe it as a liberating process?

Jaja. I guess,” he thoughtfully replies, before candidly stating “I’m not that repressed.

“To me it’s more of a humorous activity. It’s a creative activity, the characters are liberating me in a way. It’s an enjoyable process.”

Compared to his past work, which is very much psychologically challenging, will he describe the experience of this project as more enjoyable?

“This animated series isn’t as complex as some of the others, but I enjoy them all. I wouldn’t do them if I didn’t enjoy them. Because I never really try to make pictures for other people, it’s always been my own personal goals. When it’s been satisfying … It’s gratifying that you know people ultimately must have responded to what I’ve done; it’s great as an artist – what more can an artist ask for, in a way. It’s pretty deafening if there’s no response.”

The Divided Self, 2016.
 

Five final questions

 
You’ve been living and working in the surrounds of Johannesburg since the 1970s. Could you describe Johannesburg, or what Johannesburg means to you?

Well, you know, I have a picture in the Apparitions book, it’s called Divided Self. Joburg, in a way, has that aspect to it. On one side it represents a social-political-cultural reality and on the other side is another social-political reality. And they don’t really harmonise really well. Back to what we were talking about, I would say Joburg is symbolic of the divide of itself.

 As an artist you combine fact and fiction; as a reader, do you prefer to read fact or fiction?

I’m very multi-dimensional in terms of my history of reading and I’m quite well educated. Everything – theatre to fiction to philosophy; the poetry, the geology, economics. It’s really difficult because I have such a range of things I’ve been interested in over the years so I can’t really say if it’s fact or fiction, it’s a whole range of things. Is theatre fiction or is it fact? Theatre, by its nature, is almost totally documentary; partly fictional. I like things with interaction between fact and fiction.

Can you give me an example?

Well, you take something like [Joseph] Conrad’s work. He spent time on boats, travelling all over the world … He transformed it into his own world. It’s hard to know what was really the place, and what was his memory.

Yo-Landi Visser once described you as “the weirdest person I’ve ever met”. I think that’s such a compliment…

People make these comments, like “weirdest person”, “that picture is disturbing”. I’m happy; it’s great. I guess the worst thing they could say is that the work is boring.

Icarus’s lively cooing interrupts the conversation once more.

What do you think? [This question is posed to Icarus.] It’s the most he’s ever talked. He’s really enjoying what’s going on here. He’s really liking what we’re doing here. He really never does this much talking. He’s a quiet bird. We had these doves, these laughing doves, and the rest of the staff here … it was driving them crazy, so I took them out of the office.

Have you ever been accused of being boring?

No, I hate to disappoint you.

***

Book details

Boyhood

 
 
 

Ballenesque

 
 
 

Dorps

 
 
 

Platteland

 
 
 

Outland

 
 
 

Boarding House

 
 
 

Shadow Chamber

 
 
 

Asylum of the Birds

 
 
 

Roger Ballen: Die Antwoord

 
 
 

The Theatre of Apparitions

 
 
 


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Launch: Ballenesque by Roger Ballen (12 December)

P H Centre – Photo Gallery & Bookstore is proud to be hosting the launch of Roger Ballen’s latest book, Ballenesque – Roger Ballen: A Retrospective.

This timely and comprehensive retrospective takes a linear path, with personal reflections by Ballen, which are central to this detailed exploration of his style. With over 300 photographs and an introduction by cultural theorist and critic, Robert J. C. Young, Ballenesque offers a new way of looking at the work of one of the world’s most important and original photographers.

As part of the opening, Ballen will give a presentation about his work, with images and videos related to the book and his career. The winner of the Ballenesque Photo Competition will also be announced.

An exciting exhibition, featuring a selection of iconic Ballen images from the artist’s highly acclaimed career runs until the 9th February 2018.

About the Author:

Roger Ballen is an American-born photographer who has lived and worked in South Africa since the 1970s. His previous award-winning books include Platteland (1994), Outland (2001), Shadow Chamber (2005), Boarding House (2009), Asylum of the Birds (2014) and The Theatre of Apparitions (2016). Ballen’s photographs are collected by some of the most important institutions in the world and he has won numerous prestigious awards in photography and filmmaking. Robert J. C. Young is a British postcolonial theorist, cultural critic and historian. He is currently the Dean of Arts and Humanities at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Event Details


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Wenners van kykNet-Rapport-boekpryse 2017 bekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boekbesonderhede

Huilboek

 
 
 
 
Emily Hobhouse

 
 
 
 
Al wat ek weet

 
 
 
 
Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 
 
 
Bitterkomix 17

 
 
 
 
Wat die hart van vol is


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

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

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

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

Fiksie

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

Niefiksie

Reinhardt Fourie: Vlam in die sneeu: Die liefdesbriewe van André P. Brink en Ingrid Jonker (geredigeer deur Francis Galloway, Tydskrif vir letterkunde, September/Oktober 2016)
Daniel Hugo: “Een van die heel grotes” (oor Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou, saamgestel deur Danie Botha, Rapport, 14 Februarie 2016)
Emile Joubert: “Die afkook van ’n vol lewe vind hier beslag” (oor Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman met Elmari Rautenbach, Media24-dagblaaie, 31 Oktober 2016)

Die keurders was boekjoernalis en digter Bibi Slippers (sameroeper), senior joernalis en skrywer Jomarié Botha en digter en dosent Alfred Schaffer. Aangesien ’n werk van Slippers geresenseer is, is sy vir die finale keuring deur die redakteur van Huisgenoot, Yvonne Beyers, vervang.

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

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

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

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

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

Bitterkomix 17Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Fotostaatmasjien

 
 

Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 

Vlam in die sneeu

 
 

Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou

 
 

Wat die hart van vol is


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First round of international authors for Open Book Festival 2017 announced

The authors have been announced for the seventh Open Book Festival and you can have the chance to play a part in it.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival will be presented from 6 to 10 September, once again offering a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances and more. The event, which also includes the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica, children’s and outreach programmes, takes place at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative and leading book festivals. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s 125 events featuring 251 authors and it has been shortlisted twice for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. It is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill an interest in and love of reading among young attendees, while the programme is designed to engage, entertain and inspire conversations among festival goers long after the event.

“In addition to announcing the first round of incredible international authors for Open Book Festival 2017, we are inviting people to help be a part of it and launching a Thundafund campaign for this year’s festival,” says festival director Mervyn Sloman.

“Anyone who works on major events will have an understanding of the budgetary challenges and current financial climate that are part and parcel of the sector. Open Book is no different and while we continue to work with key sponsors, we are inviting people who recognise the value of the festival to get involved and support us, so we can retain our independence and continue to put on an event of the scale and calibre visitors have come to expect. You can support the campaign for as little as R100 and every rand makes a difference.”

To contribute visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

“We are excited to be announcing our first round of international authors and have again compiled a useful guide of their books so you can start reading now.”

Author: Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria)
Books include: Stay With Me
Why we’re excited: Ayọ̀bámi was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. In 2015, she was listed by the Financial Times as one of the bright stars of Nigerian literature. She has been a writer in residence at numerous institutions and she was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship in 2014 and 2015.
 
 
Author: Paul Beatty (USA)
Books include: Slumberland, Tuff, The White Boy Shuffle and The Sellout. Also poetry book Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. Editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor
Why we’re excited: The current Man Booker Winner for The Sellout.
 
 
 

Author: Maylis de Kerangal (France. Attending thanks to the support of IFAS)
Books include: Mend the Living, Birth of a Bridge; the novella Tangente vers l’est
Why we’re excited: Mend the Living was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and won the Wellcome Book Prize 2017.
 
 
Author: Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
Books include: The Book of Memory and short story collections An Elegy for Easterly and Rotten Row
Why we’re excited: An Elegy for Easterly won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009.
 
 
 
Author: Nathan Hill (USA)
Books include: The Nix
Why we’re excited: Hill’s debut novel The Nix was named one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Slate and Amazon, among others. It was also the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction and will be published worldwide in 30 languages.
 
 
Author: Elina Hirvonen (Finland. Attending thanks to the support of the Embassy of Finland)
Books include: When I Forgot, Farthest from Death, When Time Runs Out
Why we’re excited: This acclaimed author, journalist and documentary filmmaker has had her work translated into seven languages. When Time Runs Out was chosen as ‘The Most Important Book of the Year 2015’ in a project by the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
 
Author: Scaachi Koul (Canada. Attending thanks to the support of Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: Her debut collection of essays in One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
Why we’re excited: A culture writer for BuzzFeed, Scaachi’s writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Hairpin, The Globe and Mail, and Jezebel.
 
 
Author: Ali Land (UK)
Books include: Good Me Bad Me
Why we’re excited: Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages. After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia.
 
 
Author: Ken Liu (USA)
Books include: The Grace of Kings, The Wall of Storms, The Paper Menagerie
Why we’re excited: Liu’s short stories have won a Nebula, two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award. His short story, “The Paper Menagerie”, was the first work of fiction to win all three major science fiction awards, the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.
 
 
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (DRC. Attending thanks to the support of the Goethe Institut)
Books include: Tram 83
Why we’re excited: His writing has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Prix du Monde and he was longlisted for MB International
 
 
 

Author: Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
Books include: The Spider King’s Daughter, Welcome to Lagos
Why we’re excited: The Spider King’s Daughter was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
 
 
 

Author: Malin Persson Giolito (Sweden. Attending thanks to the support of The Embassy of Sweden)
Books include: Quicksand, the first of her novels to be translated into English
Why we’re excited: A former lawyer, her novel Quicksand was awarded the Best Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016, Sweden’s official suspense literature award, which is given by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy.
 
 
Author: Carl Frode Tiller (Norway. Attending thanks to support from NORLA)
Books include: The Encircling trilogy, Skråninga (The Slope)
Why we’re excited: His awards include the European Union Prize for Literature and Nordic Critics Prize. His Encircling trilogy has been twice nominated for the Nordic Council’s Prize. The trilogy is considered one of the great contemporary portraits of Nordic life. It has been adapted for the theatre and published in eighteen languages.
 
Author: Iman Verjee
Books include: Who will Catch us as we Fall, In Between Dreams
Why we’re excited: Winner of the 2012 Peters Fraser & Dunlop/City University Prize for Fiction for her debut novel In Between Dreams.
 
 
 
 
Author: Alex Wheatle (UK)
Books include: Crongton Knights, Liccle Bit, Brixton Rock, East of Acre Lane, The Seven Sisters, Island Songs, Checkers, The Dirty South
Why we’re excited: Known as ‘the Brixton Bard’ Alex was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to literature in 2008. He is UK’s most read Black British author, with his books on school reading lists, he takes part in Black History Month every year, works with Booktrust and the Children’s Discovery Centre to promote reading and represents English PEN. Crongton Knights won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016.
 
Author: Zoe Whittall (Canada. Attending thanks to support from Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: The Best Kind of People, Holding Still for as Long as Possible
Why we’re excited: This award-winning Canadian author won a Lambda Literary award, was shortlisted for the Relit award, and was an American Library Association’s Stonewall Honor Book for Holding Still for as Long as Possible. She has also published three books of poetry.

The final programme will be available in early August, at which point bookings can be made at www.webtickets.co.za.

The seventh Open Book Festival will take place from 6 to 10 September at The Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, and The Book Lounge, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information visit www.openbookfestival.co.za.

For more information about and to support the Thundafund campaign, visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

The Open Book Festival is made possible thanks to the support of its sponsors and partners: Leopard’s Leap, The Fugard Theatre, The District Six Museum, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA and the Goethe-Institut.

Stay With Me

Book details

 
 
 
Slumberland

 
 
 
 
Mend the Living

 
 
 

When I Forgot

 
 
 

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

 
 
 

Good Me, Bad Me

 
 
 

The Grace of Kings

 
 
 

Tram 83

 
 
 

The Spider King\'s Daughter

 
 
 

Quicksand

 
 
 

Encircling

 
 
 

Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

 
 
 

Crongton Knights

 
 
 

The Best Kind of People

 
 
 

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
EAN: 9780571249916
Find this book with BOOK Finder!


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