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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Mongane Wally Serote, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Penny Siopis and Albie Sachs honoured at 2016 ACT Awards

RumoursScatter the Ashes and GoRevelationsQuite Footsteps
Stukke teaterPanoramaPenny SiopisThe Soft Vengeance of a Freedom FighterMakebaMy Son's StoryMissing

Alert! The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) recently announced the winners of the 2016 Awards.

The Lifetime Achievement awards went to Dr Mongane Wally Serote for Literature, Pieter-Dirk Uys for Theatre, Johnny Clegg for Music, Penny Siopis for Visual Art, Albie Sachs for Arts Advocacy and Johaar Mosaval for Dance.

ACT CEO Pieter Jacobs said: “Our list of South African icons would not be complete without entering the names of these remarkable individuals alongside the likes of Miriam Makeba, Nadine Gordimer and Dr John Kani, to mention a few.”

“Their exemplary careers have enriched the arts and culture industry significantly, leaving a legacy that inspires young artists, such as the ImpACT Award recipients, to strive to reach a high level of excellence in their chosen fields,” Jacobs continued.

ACT also celebrates the winners of the ImpACT Awards for young professionals; young artists or businesses that have reached a notable level in their career.

Read the Press release for more information on these prestigious awards and their notable recipients:

* * * * *

ACT announces 2016 Award winners

A Sophiatown theme and exceptional entertainment set the tone at Sun International’s The Maslow Hotel last night, when ACT named their Award winners.

At the core of the Awards, is the announcement of Lifetime Achievement recipients who have each had a lifelong commitment to the arts, and this year, six deserving luminaries were recognised.

The recipients are nominated by the ACT Board of Trustees and selected by current and previous ACT Trustees. Categories include: Theatre, Music, Visual Art, Literature, Arts Advocacy and Dance.

This year, ACT honoured Pieter-Dirk Uys for Theatre, Johnny Clegg for Music, Penny Siopis for Visual Art, Dr Mongane Wally Serote for Literature, Albie Sachs for Arts Advocacy and Johaar Mosaval for Dance.

“Our list of South African icons would not be complete without entering the names of these remarkable individuals alongside the likes of Miriam Makeba, Nadine Gordimer and Dr John Kani, to mention a few,” ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs, said. “Their exemplary careers have enriched the arts and culture industry significantly, leaving a legacy that inspires young artists, such as the ImpACT Award recipients, to strive to reach a high level of excellence in their chosen fields.”

The ImpACT Awards for young professionals are given annually to honour young artists or businesses that have reached a notable level in their career. Giving the masses a voice through the public nomination process, ACT proudly boasts a first-rate selection of these individuals in the categories of Theatre, Visual Art, Music, Dance and Design.

Visual artist, Chepape Makgato; singer, Thandi Ntuli; actor Mkhululi Z Mabija; designer, Jody Paulsen; and dancer, Sunnyboy Motau were named the 2016 ImpACT Award winners. Each boasting a burgeoning creative career, this year’s winners collectively represent determination, dedication and ineffable talent.

The 2016 Awards saw ACT partner with the Distell Foundation, The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and Sun International to see this group of young professionals being lauded for the remarkable impression they have made in the first five years of their careers. Each winner will receive R10 000 and additional PR opportunities that will be generated through the ACT Awards. ImpACT Award recipients will also get on-going backing from ACT in the form promotional support in their professional careers.

The 19th annual ACT Awards was hosted by Sun International in association with the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), and supported by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA). The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) sponsors the Lifetime Award for Music, the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) for Theatre, Media24 Books for Literature, the Nedbank Arts Affinity for Visual Art, JTI for Dance and Creative Feel for Arts Advocacy, which will see recipients each receiving R45 000.

For more information about the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) please visit and use the hashtag #ACTAwards across all social media channels.

2016 ImpACT Awards Finalists

Chepape Makgato

Khehla Chepape Makgato was born in Johannesburg and raised in Makotopong village, outside Polokwane in Limpopo. Makgato has the diploma equivalence for Fine Arts majoring in Printmaking from Artist Proof Studio and a Diploma in Media Practice majoring in Journalism through Boston Media House. Makgato was one of two South African delegates and one of three SADC regional youth delegates to the 2012 Africa Utopia Youth Arts, Cultural and Olympia Festivals of the World at the Southbank Centre in London, UK. He has participated in numerous art exhibitions and fairs both locally and internationally. Makgato collaborated with William Kentridge on a project in January 2015 and continues to work on some small projects for Kentridge. He has had solo shows in 2013 (MARIKANA; Truth, Probability & Paradox), 2014 (VOICES FROM THE KOPPIE ñ Towards Speculative Realism), 2015 (MARIKANA; The Rituals) and 2016 (Manuscripts Found From The Koppie) to be exhibited in Cape Town. In 2014 he won a studio art bursary from the African Arts Trust to be a resident artist at Assemblage Studios. He is also an inaugural recipient of 2016 Art Across Oceans Residency at Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago, USA in partnership with Play Africa. Makgato now works full-time as an artist at Assemblage Studios and freelance arts writer for ArtAfrica, The Journalist, Ampers and various online publications.

Thandi Ntuli

Ntuli was born in 1987 in one of South Africa’s largest townships, Soshanguve (Pretoria). She comes from a lineage of rich musical heritage, being the niece of guitarist, pianist and lead vocalist of 70′s pop fusion band Harari (The Beaters), Selby Ntuli. At the age of four, she started taking classical piano lessons under the tutelage of Ada Levkowitz. However, her keen interest for jazz was only kindled later in life, leading her to enrol and complete a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at The University of Cape Town. Since the release of her debut jazz album, The Offering, which she released independently, Ntuli is fast making an imprint in the local jazz scene with her unique voice. The Offering has received critical acclaim as well as numerous awards and recognition since its release in 2014, including a Metro FM Award nomination for Best Urban Jazz in 2015.

Mkhululi Z Mabija

Mabija graduated from Tshwane University of Technology with a BA in Musical Theatre Performance (2006) and from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing (2010). At the age of 24, he became the youngest adjunct professor at New York University teaching a subject called South African Culture through History, Art and Media. Mkhululi has written many operas and musicals with various composers. Mkhululi has adapted Athol Fugard’s novel, Tsotsi for the musical theatre stage with composer and singer, Zwai Bala. Tsotsi will premiere in November 2017.

Jody Paulsen

Jody Paulsen was born in 1987 in Cape Town, where he continues to live and work. He specialised in Print Media at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Arts. On graduating, in 2009, Paulsen was awarded the Kathrine Harris Print Cabinet Award. In 2012, Paulsen won the Jules Kramer Departmental Scholarship Award and went on to complete his Masters Degree, also at UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, with his solo exhibition What You Want, Whenever You Want It in 2013. Notable group exhibitions include: 2015′s Young, Gifted and Black, curated by Hank Willis Thomas, in Cape Town; Making Africa at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (2015); Poppositions at Canal Warf in Brussels, Belgium (2015); MiArt 2014 in Milan, Italy and START Art Fair 2014 in London, United Kingdom. Paulsen has also collaborated with fashion designer Adriaan Kuiters, as Creative Director of Adriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen (AKJP) to present multiple collections at Mercedes-Benz Cape Town Fashion Week (2013-2016), and notably, at New York Fashion Week in 2015. AKJP has most recently, in 2016, participated in the Generation Africa fashion show at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy.

Sunnyboy Motau

Named among Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans, a 2015 Naledi Theatre Award nominee, and an acclaimed choreographer and dancer, the dynamic powerhouse of Sunnyboy Motau is set on a road called success. Beginning in community arts groups in Alexandra, he trained at Moving into Dance where he continues to work. His collaborative commission by the Dance Umbrella 2015 was among the top three of the National Arts Festival. His co-choreography with Jessica Nupen toured Germany 2015, opened the Dance Umbrella in 2016 and tours Italy in September. Currently, Motau is choreographing for the Playhouse Company in Durban after a successful production for The Market Theatre in February and the HIFA Pop-Up Festival in Harare in May.

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Bad things happen on beautiful days: Introducing Sunshine Noir – crime writing from hot countries

Bad things happen on beautiful days: Introducing Sunshine Noir – crime writing from hot countries
nullA Carrion DeathDeath of the MantisA Deadly TradeDeadly HarvestA Death in the Family

This Fiction Friday, read a new short story by award-winning crime-writing duo Michael Stanley from the anthology Sunshine Noir.

Michael Stanley is the pen name of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both Sears and Trollip were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. They are the authors of the famous Detective Kubu series, the most recent being A Death in the Family.

To find out more about the idea behind the anthology, read the editors’ note:

Why Sunshine Noir?

“Nordic Noir stories,” we hear their proponents say, “are a cut above ordinary crime fiction because the landscape and weather of the northern countries intensify the darkness of the crime and deepen the psychological complexity of the characters.”

We writers of crime in hot countries beg to differ. Knowing full well that shadows are darkest where the sun is brightest and understanding, as we do, how heat can be more psychologically debilitating than cold, we decided to throw down the gauntlet to the Nordic noirists. We are here to challenge the dominance of dark-climate fiction; to show that stories set in sunny climes can be just as grim, more varied in plot and characters, and richer in entertainment value than those of the dark, grey, bone-chilling north.

To make our case, we’ve recruited crime-fiction writers from around the world. The authors in this volume will convince you with complex, beautifully written stories that span the hot places of the planet. Read these stories. You will agree.

The writers bring a variety of writing styles, which we have maintained to highlight their wonderful diversity.

Finally, we thank all the authors in the anthology for their enthusiasm and support. For their kind words, we also extend our gratitude both to Peter James, best-selling author and winner of the 2015 WH Smith Best Crime Author of all Time Award, and to Tim Hallinan, award-winning author of the Poke Rafferty series, set in Bangkok, and the Los Angeles-based Junior Bender mysteries.

You can follow us on Facebook and at Twitter @Sunshine_Noir.

Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley

International bestselling author Peter James said of the anthology:

“… a whole new movement, spearheaded by Sunshine Noir”

There is a very haunting line at the beginning of a Nicci French novel I read years ago that has always stayed with me: Bad things happen on beautiful days.

For some years many of the most successful books storming the international crime scene have been under a dark, gloomy, wintry, brooding cloud, and have become known by the soubriquet of Scandi Noir. The long dark winters, freezing, hostile climate and the dour, grimly philosophical nature of some of that region’s inhabitants have created a certain style of crime and thriller writing that has proved enormously successful, in part because of the freshness it brought to this genre we love so much.

Many years ago I met very warm and friendly Maxine Sanders, widow of Alexander who is often credited as being the founder of modern satanism in the UK. She told me, “The light can only shine in darkness.” But now I sense with the publication of this gem of an anthology – hand in hand with some of the best crime writing in the world today – that there could be a whole new movement, spearheaded by Sunshine Noir! Where the darkness can only shine in the searing heat of the midday sun …


The editors have kindly shared an excerpt from “Spirits” by Michael Stanley:

It had been another scorching day in New Xade, with the temperature passing 100 degrees and not a trace of moisture. Usually things cooled off at night in the Kalahari, as the sand threw the heat back at the sky, but for weeks it had been stifling at night as well. Constable Ixau lay naked on his bed, trying to catch the breeze from an old desk fan on the table opposite him. Being a Bushman, heat and dryness didn’t usually bother him, but the persistent drought was upsetting. It’s a bad time, he thought. People are worried; people get angry. There will be trouble.
        Just then there was a hammering on the door and a woman’s voice calling him.
        “I’m coming!” he yelled, turning on the light. He pulled on a T-shirt and shorts and jerked open the door.
        “Q’ema! What is it? What’s the matter?” He’d recognised her at once. How not? She was the most attractive girl in the village, and all the young men sought her attention. Ixau had a secret longing for her, but he was much too shy to do anything about it. But tonight she wasn’t pretty. She looked as though she’d been crying.
        “What’s the matter?” he repeated.
        “It’s my father! He’s … you have to help me. Please. I’m so worried and scared. Can you come at once?”
        Ixau wanted to tell her it was all right, that he’d take care of the issue. But he was flustered, and he just stood in the doorway and looked at her.
        “He’s … I don’t know. He’s on the ground. Writhing. Saying mad things.” She hesitated. “There’s blood running from his nose.”
        Ixau felt icy fingers touch his spine. Everyone knew this was a sign that a man had entered the spirit world, the sign of the shaman. Indeed, Q’ema’s father, Gebo, fancied himself as just that, but people laughed at him behind his back and gave him no respect—particularly after he’d promised to bring rain, with no result. Still, these were not matters to be taken lightly. If Gebo had gone to the spirit world, perhaps he couldn’t get back? These things were known. Ixau felt the icy fingers again.
        “I think a spirit has him! An evil spirit,” Q’ema said, as though reading his thoughts. “Will you come? You must come!”
        Ixau pulled himself together. “Have you been to the clinic?” When she shook her head, he added, “We must get the nurse. She won’t be at the clinic now, but you know where she lives. Go and fetch her. Maybe your father is sick. I’ll go to him right now. Don’t worry, it will be okay.”
        She gave him a grateful look and turned to go, but he called after her. “Perhaps you should call N’Kaka too. After you call the nurse.” She nodded and disappeared into the night. There was no real Bushman shaman in New Xade, but N’Kaka was old and respected and knew things. If there was indeed a spirit, he might know what to do.


Ixau walked quickly to the house where Gebo lived with his daughter. He found the man on the floor with his back propped against a table that had been knocked onto its side. He was breathing fast and, as Q’ema had said, there was blood on his face. When he turned to Ixau, the constable saw a glassiness in his eyes that reminded him of the trances he’d seen brought on by drugs. Maybe Gebo had been trying to communicate with the spirit world and had taken too much? Perhaps that was it.
        “Gebo, it’s me, Constable Ixau. Are you all right?”
        The older man stared at him blankly.
        “Where is Q’ema?” Gebo said at last. “I heard her calling in the other world, but she wasn’t there.”
        “She’s coming with the nurse. And N’Kaka.”
        “That old fool? What does he want?” He tried to stand, but couldn’t manage. He held out his hand to Ixau, who pulled him to his feet. He staggered, and Ixau had to steady him. Then he grabbed Ixau and shouted, “They’re coming for Yuseb! You have to stop them! Yuseb …” His eyes rolled back and he collapsed, and Ixau had to drag him to a chair, where he slumped, unconscious.
        Ixau felt panic. Was the man dying? Should he give CPR? He remembered the brief course he’d done in the police college, but hated the idea of putting his mouth to Gebo’s bloody face. He checked his wrist and could feel an erratic pulse. Relieved, he decided to do nothing and wait for the nurse.
        Suddenly the small room was full as Q’ema, N’Kaka, and the nurse burst in. The nurse pushed Ixau aside and started examining the unconscious man. N’Kaka tried to peer over her shoulder, but she pushed him away too. Q’ema started to cry.
        “I helped him up, and he seemed okay,” Ixau told Q’ema, “but then he started shouting something and passed out. I carried him to the chair.”
        “What?” N’Kaka growled.
        “He passed out and I—”
        “No!” N’Kaka interrupted. “What did he say?”
        What had Gebo said? Ixau wondered. A good policeman would remember. Something about Yuseb? Something about someone coming for him. He told N’Kaka as closely as he could recall.
        N’Kaka liked neither Gebo nor Yuseb, who didn’t show him the respect he felt he deserved. “It’s the spirits who speak through Gebo,” he said. “They’re angry with Yuseb because he doesn’t show them respect. He’s in grave danger.” He nodded with satisfaction.
        Q’ema had stopped crying. “What about my father? Is he all right?”
        N’Kaka shrugged. “They are finished with him now.”
        The nurse looked up from her patient. “Yes,” she said to Q’ema. “Once the drugs wear off. What did he take?”
        Q’ema looked at the floor. “What he takes to visit the spirit world. He was going to beg for rain, I think. He said they could help if they wanted to.”
        There was a groan, and Gebo eyes fluttered.
        N’Kaka snorted. “He’s a fool. They won’t listen to him. He has no power. They took him and chewed him and spat him back to us.” He turned away and left without another glance at Gebo.
        “Help me get him to his bed,” the nurse said. “I’ll bring him something. He’ll be fine in the morning.”
        “Yuseb,” Gebo muttered. “They are coming …” He groaned again.
        Ixau knew his duty. Although he was scared, he knew he must check on Yuseb. He would first fetch his knobkerrie even though it wouldn’t help him against powerful spirits.



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Black to the future: Authors announced for the Abantu Book Festival

Authors announced for the Abantu Book Festival

Alert! The Abantu Book Festival has revealed a sneak peek of writers and performing artists who will be leading the inaugural event.

The Abantu Book Festival will be happening in Soweto, 6-10 December 2016.

The impressive lineup includes Angela Makholwa, Bheki Peterson, Bongani Madondo, Bontle Senne, Chika Unigwe, Dikeledi Deekay Sibanda, Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso, Don Mattera, Elinor Sisulu, Eusebius McKaiser, Florence Masebe, Fred Khumalo, Gcina Mhlope, HJ Golakai, James Murua, Khadija Patel, Khaya Dlanga, Khosi Xaba, Koleka Putuma, Lebo Mashile, Lesego Rampolokeng, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Malaika wa Azania, Mongane Wally Serote, Natalia Molebatsi, Ndumiso Ngcobo, Niq Mhlongo, NoViolet Bulawayo, Nozizwe Jele, Percy Mabandu, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Redi Tlhabi, Rehana Rossouw, Sabata-mpho Mokae, Sihle Khumalo, Siphiwe Mpye, Siphiwo Mahala, Thabiso Mahlape, Thandiswa Mazwai, Thato Magano, Unathi Kondile, Unathi Magubeni, Vangi Gantsho, Xolisa Guzula, Yewande Omotoso, Zukiswa Wanner, and others still to be confirmed.

Panashe Chigumadzi, author of Sweet Medicine and the festival’s curator, says:

In this lineup we find depth and variety. Some of our authors have been telling stories for as long as others have been alive, while others have just begun but are bringing incredible innovations to the art. Together with our storytellers, we’ll be looking black to the future.

Black Widow SocietySigh The Beloved CountryPowers of the KnifeNight DancerThe Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!Memory is the WeaponWalter and Albertina Sisulu
Run Racist Run#ZuptasMustFall and Other RantsHave You Seen Zandile?The ScoreTo Quote MyselfThese handsIn a Ribbon of RhythmA Half Century Thing

“Abantu” is the Nguni word for “people”, and the festival’s mission is to be “the literature event that provides black writers and readers the platform and visibility they deserve”.

The first annual Abantu Book Festival will be a five-day experience of readings, discussions, music and other forms of storytelling, as well as workshops and film screenings.

Organised under the theme – Our Stories – the festival celebrates African stories through written and spoken word, visual arts, music and film. It will explore the ways in which our stories are told, and how these inform, or are informed by, our ways of being.

The Soweto Theatre (Jabulani) and Eyethu Lifestyle Centre (Mofolo) are the main venues, and African Flavour Books will be on site to make sure your favourite African and diasporan titles are on sale.

The programme will be published in November 2016.

Full author profiles are available at the Abantu Book Festival website!

The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other StoriesMemoirs of a Born FreeRumoursEat, Drink and Blame the AncestorsAffluenzaWe Need New NamesHappiness is a Four-Letter Word
The Everyday WifeRapeEndings and BeginningsWhat Will People SayGa ke ModisaAlmost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuWhen a Man Cries
Ukuba MtshaThe Woman Next DoorLondon – Cape Town – JoburgSweet MedicineNwelezelanga

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‘Picture Boris Johnson spliced with Gwede Mantashe’: Andrew Harding on writing The Mayor of Mogadishu

Published in the Sunday Times

nullThe Mayor of MogadishuThe Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia
Andrew Harding

I was sitting in the back seat of a car in Mogadishu, peering through tinted glass at the gunmen blocking our way, and wondering if maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea after all. I’ve been visiting Somalia regularly over the past 15 years, reporting on the extravagant supply of bad news – famines, pirates, warlords, militants and endlessly shifting frontlines. I’m used to the queasy experience of driving through Mogadishu’s ruins, braced for trouble.

But this time was different. I’d come not as a journalist, but as a guest speaker at the city’s fledgling book fair. I’d just written my book, The Mayor of Mogadishu, and launching it in Somalia seemed like the proper thing to do.

Except that I was on my own this time. No BBC News team beside me in the car. And Mogadishu was going through an upsurge in car bombings, assassinations, and coordinated attacks on hotels by the Islamist militants of al-Shabaab.

To add to my unease, the local media and the book fair’s organisers had publicised the timing of my speech at a downtown hotel. No chance of slipping in under the radar. My guards made no secret of their anxieties.

Then there was the book itself. My initial plan to write a traditional “journalist” book about my experiences in Somalia had been sideswiped by a chance encounter with a man known as Tarzan.

I first met him in 2010, days after he’d returned from 20 years in London, to take on the seemingly impossible job of Mogadishu’s mayor. He seemed an almost cartoonish figure. Brash, brave and thuggish. Picture Boris Johnson spliced with Gwede Mantashe.

But then I dug into his past and came to realise there was more to Tarzan. That his story was also Somalia’s. Born into a nomadic family, dropped off in an orphanage during a famine, he was a ruffian who fell in love with an upper-class girl and took her on dates to open-air cinemas. Then came Somalia’s collapse, escape to London, and, two decades and six children later, Tarzan’s determination to come “home”.

Others have demanded to know why I chose to write a book about ‘a scumbag’

Today Tarzan is a profoundly divisive figure. A hero to some Somalis. But others have jabbed me in the chest to demand why I have chosen to write a book about “a scumbag like that”. He’s accused of corruption, and worse. And now he’s campaigning to be president in elections due later this year.

And so, as our convoy finally made it safely through the security cordon outside the book fair, I was braced for a different kind of hostility. Not just the “why should we listen to yet another foreigner, telling us about our country?” sort. But also the suspicion that I was trying to help Tarzan’s election campaign. Those questions came, but politely. The crowds at the book fair were young, huge, exuberant – relishing the chance to celebrate their city’s progress and culture, and to push back against the bleak brand of a “failed state”.

“What do you like best about our city?” An earnest student stood in front of me, my book clutched in his hand, awaiting my signature. He was proud of Mogadishu, and I was glad I’d come back.

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Celebrating Joburg as the inspiration for great South African writing: The 2016 Bridge Book Festival

Celebrating Joburg and South African writing: 2016 Bridge Book Festival programme revealed

On Saturday, 29 October, the Bridge Book Festival will celebrate Johannesburg as the inspiration for great South African writing, by bringing writers and readers together in the city’s historic core.

The daylong event brings a dozen writers, poets and illustrators to explore landmark sites in downtown Johannesburg.

Not to be missed!

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 29 October 2016
  • Time: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Venues: Bridge Books, as well as The Rand Club, Oppenheimer Park and Corner House.
  • Tickets: Webtickets or Facebook

2016 Bridge Book Festival programme

null#ZuptasMustFall and Other Rants
1. Fred Khumalo
Time: 10am to 10.45am
Venue: Bridge Books
Fred Khumalo will be reading from his latest book #Zuptas Must Fall.
Ticket cost: R20
2. Poetree
Time: 10am to 10.45am
Venue: Corner House
Different artists from Poetree will entertain with their poems.
Ticket cost: R20
The Woman Next Door
3. Yewande Omotoso
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Yewande Omotoso will be reading from her latest novel The Woman Next Door.
Ticket cost: R20
nullThe Relatively Public Life Of Jules Browde
4. Daniel Browde
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: The Rand Club
Daniel Browde will be reading from The Relatively Public Life of Jules Browde.
Ticket cost: R50
nullEyes in the Night
5. Nomavenda Mathiane
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: Corner House
Nomavenda Mathiane will be reading from her book Eyes in the Night.
Ticket cost: R20
nullThe God Who Made Mistakes
6. Ekow Duker
Time: 12.30pm to 1.45pm
Venue: Corner House
Ekow Duker will be reading from his latest novel The God Who Made Mistakes.
Ticket cost: R20
nullBroke and Broken
7. Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki
Time: 1.45pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki will be reading from their book Broke & Broken.
Ticket cost: R20
8. Niq Mhlongo
Time: 1.45pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Corner House
Niq Mhlongo will be reading from his collection of short stories Affluenza.
Ticket cost: R20
nullHappiness is a Four-Letter Word
9. Nozizwe Cynthia Jele
Time: 3pm to 3.45pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele will be reading from her novel Happiness is a Four-Letter Word.
Ticket cost: R20
nullFrom Whiskey to Water
10. Samantha Cowen
Time: 3pm to 3.45pm
Venue: Corner House
Samantha Cowen will be reading from her memoir From Whiskey to Water.
Ticket cost: R20
bridge books
11. Cocktail party at Bridge Books
Time: From 4pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Drinks with the authors at Bridge Books.
Ticket cost: R100
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Temptation of a dangerous liaison: Tinyiko Maluleke reviews Nape a Motana’s novel Hamba Sugar Daddy

Published in the Sunday Times

Hamba Sugar DaddyHamba Sugar Daddy
Nape à Motana (Jacana)

The setting of this novel is Mamelodi Township in Tshwane, where we meet 18-year-old Rolivhuwa Ramabulana, a pupil at Solomon Mahlangu High School. Here we are introduced to the lived world of township blessers and potential blessees.

By the second page, you can smell the stench of the river of poverty in which young Rolivhuwa is swimming. And already on the second page, one of her peers advises her that she could use her “God-given body to make good pocket money”. Rolivhuwa, her friends and family then explore the author’s vexatious subject: the blesser/blessee phenomenon.

Kedibone, Rolivhuwa’s high school friend, lures her into the world of blesser relationships. Khomisa is her born-again friend who tries but fails to stop Rolivhuwa from becoming a sugar baby. Bigvy Masemola, a middle-aged Mamelodi businessman, soon becomes Rolivhuwa’s “blessing on two legs”, as he calls himself.

Rolivhuwa is a reluctant blessee from the start. At the heart of the book is her struggle to get out of this relationship. Tellingly, her mother, who sees her daughter’s blesser as “a big-hearted man”, is complicit in the exploitation of her daughter. She opposes Rolivhuwa’s attempts to get out of the relationship at every turn.

To her mother’s chagrin, Rolivhuwa eventually breaks free from the loveless relationship, which is characterised by painful sex and rape. Later, she discovers that she is HIV-positive and becomes an anti-blesser-activist and the lead actor in a play titled “Hamba Sugar Daddy” (go away, sugar daddy). She also finds love.

Although the plot is simple, the subject of this novel is socially significant, given the blight of the blesser phenomenon and the high rate of new HIV infections in the 15 to 24 age group. There is very little nuance, paradox or irony in the plot or in the personalities and motivations of the main characters. After Rolivhuwa moves out of her blesser relationship, the novel changes into a kind of superficial motivational book.

Follow Tinyiko Maluleke on Twitter @ProfTinyiko

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‘Burning rubber and black smoke’: Bridget Hilton-Barber on how she almost lost her manuscript – by baking her laptop

Published in the Sunday Times

Student, Comrade, Prisoner, SpyStudent, Comrade, Prisoner, Spy
Bridget Hilton-Barber (Zebra Press)

I have lost many laptops to theft, and my external harddrive was recently pinched, so in the end throes of writing my latest book I became very protective over my laptop and its contents. I emailed myself the latest changes to my book every day and whenever I went out I hid my laptop – in different places to avoid the possibility of thieves and pilferers detecting my hiding patterns. I hid it in the bookshelf, I hid it under the bed, I hid it in the vegetable rack, I hid it in the clothes cupboard and then I hid it in the oven.

One lazy weekend I took a break from writing. A good friend was visiting in the guesthouse next door, and we decided to make a collective Sunday lunch. I was tasked with cooking the sweet potatoes, so I slicked down said potatoes with olive oil, draped them in sprigs of fresh rosemary, set them aside, turned on the oven to preheat and went for a glass of vino next door. After 20 minutes I went back to my oven to load the potatoes …

As I walked into the kitchen I was overpowered by the smell of burning rubber and the sight of thick black smoke curling out of the oven. Nooooo. The laptop. I stopped dead in my tracks, I screamed, I leapt many metres in the air, I went pale and sweaty, I clutched my madly beating heart. This was all in the nano second before I yanked open the oven door, seized the steaming laptop, tore off the burning rubber case, prised it open and stabbed at the “on” button.

OMG it was working! All downloads, documents, photographs and yes, my entire book, were still intact. The laptop’s CD drive had melted completely as had most of the bottom casing, giving it a rather Salvador Dali-esque appearance, but everything else seemed just fine, albeit hot and steamy. I dropped to my knees and gave thanks to every god and deity I could think of, tears of sheer relief sliding down my face.

Then I took a deep breath, put the sweet potatoes into the oven and went unsteadily back next door. Wine, I cried, wine. Now. There were shrieks of laughter as I recounted the sorry tale of my near death experience and downed several glasses to steady my shattered nerves.

You’re lucky it wasn’t an Apple Mac, chortled my friend, they have metal cases and you could have blown up the whole house never mind the entire block. But my laptop is a Samsung, which also makes a range of cooking appliances – haha – that promise a reduced cooking time and an even, thorough bake.

Mercifully I didn’t have one of those. Just a squishy, working laptop and its rubber case with my desperate handprint indelibly melted upon it.

As one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, once self-righteously pointed out, diligence is the mother of good luck, but then as English novelist Thomas Hardy said, some folks want their luck buttered.


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War, hate and sex: Bron Sibree interviews Anne Sebba on her book Les Parisiennes: How the Woman of Paris Loved, Lived and Died

Anne Sebba gives us new insight into the ordeals of women in wartime, writes Bron Sibree for the Sunday Times

Les ParisiennesLes Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Loved, Lived and Died in the 1940s
Anne Sebba (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

British historian and biographer Anne Sebba has been fascinated by the World War II defeat of France and the German occupation of Paris for as long as she can remember. But for as long as she can recall, too, she has also been troubled by one of the most abiding images of that war’s aftermath: Parisian women being publicly shaven, and often painted with the swastika, for the crime of collaboration horizontale.

“That is the abiding image, and it is so one dimensional. But what has happened historically is that that has become very cheap shorthand for what happened in France,” says Sebba, who has analysed the role of collaborators and resisters, and so much more, in her mesmerising (and richly detailed) social history of the period, Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Loved, Lived and Died in the 1940s.

From the outset, Sebba knew she wanted to write a different kind of history. She ignored a renowned male historian’s advice to use the most oft-quoted male diarists of the period, and set out in search of lesser-known women’s voices. The author of eight celebrated works of non-fiction, including That Woman: The Duchess of Windsor and the Scandal That Brought Down a King (2012) and Jennie Churchill (2007), Sebba knows her way around an archive.

Yet even so, she says, “I needed to do a lot of digging.” She spent five years combing the archives for letters and diaries, and painstakingly tracking down women now in their 90s who had lived through the occupation.

“I wanted a multiplicity of points of view. That was key to what I was trying to do so that women couldn’t any longer be given this one-dimensional tag.”

In giving voice to the countless Parisian women who suffered, died or were imprisoned in places like Ravensbrück, or endured the occupation through various degrees of compromise or resistance – mostly a combination of both – Sebba drives home the fact that it was women who were left to contend with the almost all-male Nazi occupiers.

“Wartime Paris was a feminised city. That’s a sine qua non to my book. I hadn’t even realised that until I started writing it, because two million men were taken prisoner of war. Others were with De Gaulle in the Free French and yet others, if they were Jews, were in hiding, or were elderly, so there were very, very few men in Paris. So here you’ve got a city where the women didn’t have the vote, they didn’t have the right to work without their husband’s permission, they couldn’t have a bank account. And without any fuel they couldn’t drive cars so had to ride bicycles, but they weren’t allowed to wear trousers.”

For Sebba, writing Les Parisiennes was a quest to understand the difficult choices forced upon these women – so obviously disempowered yet not cowed – and not to pass judgement. She even finds the word “collaborator” distasteful. “Although it was [Philippe] Pétain who introduced this word collaborate, I think it’s ugly and judgemental. I prefer some degree of complicity. You could argue that everyone who went about their daily business was in some way complicit. I don’t want to pretend there wasn’t collaboration, there were by some estimates more than 100000 Franco-German babies born. Some of it was of necessity – to feed your children you might sleep with a German – some of it was romantic. But did the women deserve to be punished after the war in this very gendered way, without a trial, publicly humiliated?

“It was aimed at the women,” she emphasises, “and has deep roots in the fact that the men felt so humiliated and ashamed that they had lost the military defeat, the way they reacted was to take it out on the women.”

Even the role women played in the resistance remained largely unrecognised until many years later, says Sebba, whose efforts in recording stories of feminine heroism in Les Parisiennes go a long way to redressing historical omissions.

Yet in writing such an intricately detailed history about les années noires, the dark years that divided French citizens, says Sebba, “I found huge resonance in what’s going on in the world now with all this fear that we have of refugees and people who are different from us. It’s so important that we understand that this has happened once before, and that we’re all human beings.”

Follow Bron Sibree on Twitter @BronSibree

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Bob Dylan wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

TarantulaChronicles Volume One

The times they are a-changin’! Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The announcement was made today by the Swedish Academy.

Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius said Dylan was awarded the Nobel for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

In an interview straight after the announcement, Danius was asked by an incredulous journalist: “Does Bob Dylan really deserve the Nobel Prize? Why?”

“Why?” she responded. “Well of course he does, he just got it.”

She continued: “He is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition. He is a wonderful sampler, a very original sampler. He embodies the tradition, and for 54 years now he’s been at it, reinventing himself constantly, creating a new identity.

“If you want to start listening or reading you may start with Blonde on Blonde, the album from 1966. You’ve got many classics, and it’s an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming and putting together refrains, and his pictorial thinking.”

When asked whether the Academy had widened the horizon of the prize, Danius said she didn’t believe so.

“It may look that way but really we haven’t. If you look back, far back, 2 500 years or so, you discover Homer and Sappho. They wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, that were meant to be performed, often together with instruments. It’s the same way with Bob Dylan. But we still read Homer and Sappho, and we enjoy it, and the same thing with Bob Dylan. He can be read and should be read, and is a great poet in the grand English poetic tradition.”

Danius was asked whether she thought there would be criticism in the wake of the announcement, and replied: “I hope not.”

Finally, she was asked whether she had listened to a lot of Dylan personally growing up.

“Not really, but he was always around so I know the music and I’ve started to appreciate him much more now than I did,” she said. “I was a David Bowie fan. Perhaps it’s a question of generation, I don’t know. Today I’m a lover of Bob Dylan.”

It appears the Academy had Dylan’s lyrics in mind when deciding the prize, but he has also written two books: Tarantula, a collection of prose and poetry published in 1971, and Chronicles: Volume One, the first part of a planned three-volume memoir, published in 2004.

Watch the announcement here:

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Book Bites: 9 October 2016

Published in the Sunday Times

Three Moments of ExplosionThree Moments of An Explosion: Stories
China Miéville (Picador)
Book fiend
The short-story collection starts with a bang and maintains that level of excitement and terror throughout. Die-hard Miéville fans might struggle with the new format at first (can’t he just write more Bas-Lag books, already?) but after the titular story you’ll be hooked and thirsting for more. Stand-out stories are “Säcken” – a research trip to the German countryside unleashes untold horrors – and “After the Festival” – a macabre depiction of mass fandom and addiction. Miéville not only experiments with the short story form, he reinvents it. It’s disturbing and brilliant. – Annetjie van Wynegaard @Annetjievw

Hot MilkHot Milk
Deborah Levy (Penguin Random House)
Book buff
Sofia has abandoned her anthropology doctorate to tend to her mother, who suffers from mysterious pain and paralysis. The two women enact a filial dance of control and co-dependence, love and resentment. When her mother limps, so does Sofia. “Her legs are my legs.” In desperation, they travel to Spain to consult a doctor. While her mother undergoes the doctor’s (possibly quack) ministrations, Sofia begins to overcome her own existential malaise – she steals a fish, frees a dog, and takes lovers (male and female). Hot Milk is meticulously crafted and vivid with myth and landscape. Levy moves gracefully between pathos, poetry, humour and intriguing internal imaginings. – Kate Sidley @KateSidley

Lily and the OctopusLily & The Octopus
Steven Rowley (Simon & Schuster)
Book hug
Ted’s unbreakable bond with his dachshund Lily is what keeps him going, giving his existence shape and meaning. Together, they’re an unbeatable team, a mutual adoration society. It’s the relationship that Ted can count on every day without fail, his one true friend. But when an evil “octopus” suddenly affixes itself to his beloved Lily’s head, threatening everything, he’s thrown into terrible turmoil. Hilarious, sardonic, imaginative and also incredibly sad, this is a must-read for anybody who has ever loved a pet. – Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door
Shari Lapena (Bantam Press)
Book thrill
Remember the McCanns who left their daughter Madeleine alone while they had supper nearby? Anne and Marco Conti do the same thing: when the babysitter cancels at the last minute, they leave six-month-old Cora alone and dine with the neighbours. Like Madeleine, Cora is stolen; the police suspect the parents and more and more revelations point to them. A ransom is demanded and paid, but the baby is not returned and police fear the worst. The Couple Next Door is excellent, especially for a debut, with good, tight writing and a thrilling twister of a plot. – Aubrey Paton

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