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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Book Bites: 9 July 2017

The Sun In Your EyesThe Sun In Your Eyes
Deborah Shapiro (HarperCollins)
Book buff
This story of a complex friendship between two women comes spangled with praise from American critics. Years after leaving college, Vivian and Lee set off on a road trip to untangle the great tragedy of Lee’s life: the death of her father, Jesse Parrish. Lee was still small when Parrish, a leading singer/songwriter, died in a car accident. His life and death have become mythical, especially as the tapes of the album he was working on disappeared on the night of his death. Lee’s whole life has been burdened by his memory and it is time to deal with it once and for all, and to sever, or renew, her foundering relationship with Vivian. – Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

Reservoir 13Reservoir 13
Jon McGregor (Bloomsbury)
Book biff
Fans of Jon McGregor know he is a painter who uses words rather than watercolours. Reservoir 13 is a portrait of English village life. A collection of everyday people whose everyday lives are shifted and haunted after a 13-year-old girl vanishes while on holiday with her parents. Each chapter begins a new year, with the characters slowly moving forward. It is we human beings who exist in routines that tend to alter at a gradual pace with age. This book is a work of art for readers who read for the pleasure of words and do not require tidy narratives with no loose ends. This novel is an echo of life. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Secret History of Twin PeaksThe Secret History of Twin Peaks
Mark Frost (Macmillan)
Book thrill
Twin Peaks – the TV series by David Lynch and Mark Frost – aired in 1991, and we were introduced to the town of Twin Peaks, the murder of Laura Palmer, and the cultish strangeness surrounding the killing. In 2016, 25 years after the series was aired, Lynch and Frost have collaborated on another season, and writer Frost has brought out his third book in the franchise. Presented as a dossier of FBI documents, photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and transcriptions, which may – or may not – elucidate the new series. But it’s pretty damn good, as Special Agent Cooper might say. – Aubrey Paton

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Acts of useless beauty: Bron Sibree talks to Tim Winton about his new memoir The Boy Behind The Curtain

Published in the Sunday Times

The Boy Behind the CurtainThe Boy Behind the Curtain
Tim Winton (Picador)

Tim Winton refers to his new memoir, The Boy Behind the Curtain, his 28th book to date, as a midlife “looking over the shoulder”. Yet it’s difficult to conceive of more a revealing work from a novelist so revered by his fellow countrymen, but so renowned for shunning the limelight. It is a companion volume to his 2015 non-fiction meditation on the role of Australian landscape on his own fiction and that of the Australian psyche, Island Home.

Yet, this collection peels back the curtain on his life as a man and a writer in far more revealing ways. It also surprised Winton with what the book unveiled. “What sticks out for me,” he says, referring to a body of work that has earned him two Booker Prize shortlistings, “is just how unlikely it all is, having come from this modest, working-class background where no one had ever finished school”.

He writes of his sadness that members of his family remain illiterate in a chapter in The Boy Behind the Curtain, that also probes his concerns about the growing divide between rich and poor. For this is no conventional memoir, but a series of profoundly personal essays in which the 56-year-old author of such novels as Eyrie, Breath, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and The Riders, attempts to make sense of the world, his childhood and the unconscious patterns of his fiction. “You are drawing on real stuff as a fiction writer whether you know it or not, so it’s me trying to acknowledge and also make plain some of those strands that make up the rope.”

Some of that rope’s most significant strands are those of his childhood. The book takes its cues from its titular chapter in which Winton recalls himself before he found words: a troubled, inarticulate 13-year-old who took to aiming his father’s .22 Lithgow rifle at “innocent passers-by” from behind the curtains of his parent’s bedroom. “When I think of that kid at the window, the boy I once was,” he writes, “I get a lingering chill.”

In another he recalls his fears as a nine-year-old, clinging to the steering wheel in the aftermath of a road accident in which his traffic cop father gave his son a job to do while attending an injured motorcyclist. Winton was an adult before he realised his fears related to an earlier traffic accident: one in which his father had been so badly injured that then six-year-old Winton felt he’d been robbed of the father he knew. “That scene,” he reveals, “has puzzled me all my life. Haunted me, in a way.”

That those childhood events remain so resonant in his life and work also surprised Winton . “To recognise myself as the little boy still clinging to the steering wheel, and also to recognise in this long-ago boy holding the gun behind the curtain, that he’s been and gone in one sense, but he’s still present. The people that you’ve been in your life are still with you. They still inform you and you have to be mindful of them, learn from them and not pretend that they’re not there.”

Then there is his obsession with “useless beauty” as he describes his passion for the natural world. “I realised late in life, just from surfing, that in indulging in all those thousands of mornings and afternoons surfing, I was essentially indulging in acts of useless beauty.”

He writes of his abiding need to tap into the power of the ocean in a dance he calls “the wait and the flow” in this memoir. And to read it is to swim marginally, fleetingly, closer to comprehending the miracle of Winton ’s preternatural ability to harness the power of the natural world to the page. For he writes just like he surfs. “And the feeling is divine.”

Follow Bron Sibree @Bron Sibree

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The Market Theatre brokers an Exclusive Pan-African Partnership

In a ground-breaking partnership between the Market Theatre Foundation and Exclusive Books, the Windybrow Arts Centre will become Johannesburg’s newest hub for the advancement of Pan-African literature. The Windybrow Arts Centre will open its doors to the Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Lounge for adults and The Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Room for children on 18 July 2017. The press release issued by the Foundation reads:

“The Market Theatre Foundation is at the forefront of producing and presenting cutting edge stories that have an authentic African artistic voice and which is inclusive of the rich tapestry of African diversity. When Exclusive Books launched their Pan-African series we immediately envisioned a dynamic partnership with Exclusive Books to make stories and literature from the African continent and the diaspora become more accessible to a wider audience,” says Ismail Mahomed, CEO of the Market Theatre Foundation.

The Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Lounge and Reading Room which will be housed in the 121-year old Windybrow Heritage House will be home to over 2000 book titles.

“Sponsoring space at the Windybrow Arts Centre for the purpose of creating a reading room that can cater to the local community is a meaningful contribution for the Exclusive Books Group,” explains Benjamin Trisk, CEO of Exclusive Books. “It is particularly important in contemporary South Africa to give back to the life of Hillbrow because Hillbrow was the genesis for the first Exclusive Books when it opened its doors in 1951.”

“Over 120 young people come to the Windybrow Arts Centre every day to engage in our inspiring cultural educational programming. We have 24 Market Theatre Laboratory alumni who teach at inner-city schools in Johannesburg. The launch of the Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Room for children will be an excellent resource. It gives us the scope to promote a reading culture that will be inspiring, relevant and resonant with the African experiences of our constituency at the Windybrow Arts Centre,” adds Mahomed.

A monthly book club programme for children and a series of forums for adults focusing on African authors and on the titles available in the Reading Lounge will be hosted at the Windybrow Arts Centre. The Market Theatre’s weekly digital online publication, Buzz@theMarket, will feature a book a week. Exceptional discounts for shows at the Market Theatre will be given to members of Fanatics, the Exclusive Books Rewards Programme that has been going strong for almost 20 years! Visit to join Fanatics.

“We are pleased that we can create a safe space for children and adults alike to have access to books, to care for them, and to treasure the stories that the books contain,” Trisk concludes.

Exclusive Books is South Africa’s largest book store chain, with 40 branches across South Africa, one branch in Gaborone and an online store.

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10 libraries in Johannesburg to extend their hours during school holidays

The City of Johannesburg’s Library and Information Services – a unit of the Social Development Department – has designed an extensive educational school holiday programme to keep learners constructively engaged throughout the three-week winter recess, reads the press release on The City of Joburg’s website.

Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, was present at the launch of the extended library hours at Jabavu Libraries in Soweto.

The ten libraries to extend their hours are Jabavu Libary, Sandton Library, Orange Farm Library, Ennerdale Library, Ivory Park North Library, Florida Library, Protea North Library, Yeoville Library, City Library and Diepsloot Library.

These libraries will be open on Saturdays, from 1PM to 5PM. Once compliance with the relevant labour laws have been ensured, the libraries will be open from 9AM to 8PM during the week, and 1PM to 5PM on Sundays.

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Jassy Mackenzie: our July sunshine noir author

A new month calls for a new local thriller author sending shivers down readers across the continent’s spine.

This month, the co-author of the popular Detective Kubu series, Michael Sears, had the opportunity to interview Jassy Mackenzie for The Big Thrill – the magazine for international thriller writers. Jassy was born in Zimbabwe, but currently resides on a small farm near Johannesburg.

She exchanged romance novels for noir, and has written four successful novels featuring her P.I. Jade de Jong. Her fifth book in the series, Bad Seeds, was recently published.

Here, Michael and Jassy discuss her attraction to mysteries and her new book. Intrigued? Read on…

Over the last several years you’ve been writing romances. Why did you decide to take a break from thrillers and what drew you back?

While I was writing Pale Horses, my mother became ill and passed away – it was a very sad time for the family and I decided I needed to do something different to cheer myself up. So I wrote a humorous erotic romance, Folly, which became a bestseller in South Africa, and I followed it up with a few others. I didn’t plan on leaving it too long before returning to the thrillers, especially since I had some readers contacting me to ask when I was going to stop writing these silly romances and get back to proper storytelling! Bad Seeds took longer than anticipated to write, firstly because life got in the way, and secondly because I didn’t feel the plot was pulling together believably enough, so I left the story for a while. In fact, the delay was a good thing because when I came back to the book and did further research, I discovered a recently published news report on Pelindaba that provided astonishing new information, and the perfect solution to my plotting dilemma.

In Bad Seeds, Jade is faced with a plot to steal weapons-grade uranium from a nuclear research center near Johannesburg. To non-South African readers that may sound far fetched, but there is just such a research center here, South Africa did build nuclear weapons in the apartheid days, and the material is still in South Africa. The plot is completely believable, and, although you changed the name of the research center, the background is real. How much of the plot is based on fact, and how much is pure invention?

Pelindaba has a fascinating, if rather dark, history – and a surprising number of the facts about my fictitious nuclear research center, Inkomfe, are based on factual news reports about Pelindaba. The plight of the apartheid-era workers who fell ill from radiation-related causes is documented in a number of articles – the best one titled “Apartheid’s Nuclear Shame”. The report which ended up being the game-changer that allowed me to finish the book, was about the nuclear ingots. Yes, there really is a stash of highly enriched uranium ingots at Pelindaba from the dismantled weapons. Yes, the U.S. is extremely concerned about it. Yes, if they were stolen, these ingots could be used by terrorists because there’s enough material to create half a dozen mega-bombs. And yes – there have been attempted raids on the research center, some of which have come very close to succeeding.

To complicate things, Jade finds herself in a serious conflict of interest between her client – Ryan Gillespie, head of security at the plant – and her mark – Carlos Botha, a consultant who has been behaving suspiciously. Then she gets emotionally involved, which makes it worse. The two men keep her guessing. You once called Jade “immoral,” but she does seem to try to do the right thing when the chips are down. Is that how you see her?

Yes, Jade always tries hard to do the right thing, although it’s her version of it, rather than society’s version, or the law’s version. Deep down, I think most of us would love to be renegades from time to time, especially when we see a situation we perceive as being unfair. Sometimes the law doesn’t resolve injustices the way it should, and we dream of being able to intervene and set things right … Jade gets to actually do it.

Continue reading their interview here.

Bad Seeds

Book details

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Jacket Notes: Niël Barnard discusses the backstory of his book Peaceful Revolution

Published in the Sunday Times

Peaceful RevolutionPeaceful Revolution
Niël Barnard (Tafelberg)

There was no shortage of inspiration for this book, a sequel to Secret Revolution (Tafelberg, 2015). In fact, here and there I was asked to tone down my “enthusiasm” for some politicians and their not-so-admirable ways.

From a young age I never shied from the heat at the proverbial coalface. To be honest, I was attracted to it – not for the sake of sensation but for the opportunity to make a contribution where and when it really mattered.

While lecturing in political science at the age of 30, I was asked to head the National Intelligence Service. A defining part of my stint there was the secret talks, started in May 1988, which I held with Nelson Mandela while he was still in prison. This led to his release, the unbanning of the liberation movements and almost four years of tense transitional negotiations – the topic of Peaceful Revolution. For good reason the subtitle speaks of the “war room” at the negotiations. Fight, we surely did, and not only with political opponents but also among ourselves on the government’s side. So much was at stake: a lasting conflict or prospects for peace, for starters.

I try to shed light on the real issues, the personalities and the forces that determined the outcome of the peace process. As a member of the government’s negotiating team and having had the experience of (informally) negotiating with Mandela, I was in a unique position to observe, take part in and assess the momentous events leading to April 27 1994.

Acquaintances will know that I am a straight-talker who doesn’t mince words. I see no reason to spare ex-president FW de Klerk or his security czar, Kobie Coetsee, any criticism – the former for his wavering and lacklustre leadership and the latter for his baffling manoeuvres. The same applies to the obstinate Mangosuthu Buthelezi (often equalled by Cyril Ramaphosa) and the sometimes petulant Mandela.

But despite the heated debates and public posturing on all sides we shared a deep commitment to work towards peace and prosperity.

On numerous occasions this patriotic spirit provided the glue which kept the process on track.

Book details

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Love and hurt: Jessica Levitt reviews Chwayita Ngamlana’s novel If I Stay Right Here

Published in the Sunday Times

If I Stay Right HereIf I Stay Right Here
Chwayita Ngamlana (Blackbird Books)

Chwayita Ngamlana’s debut novel is a spectacular one: a tale of a woman’s inability to let go of a relationship that she cherishes but which ultimately breaks her down. Shay, a journalism student out on a story, meets Sip, an unemployed varsity dropout who is in jail. Shay is attracted to the slight-figured convict and breaks the cardinal rule of journalism: don’t get personally involved with your subject.

Sip is released and soon they’re living together. Sip turns out to be an aggressive partner. Shay loses her friends and lives in fear as Sip gets progressively more jealous and physically violent. Yet Shay stays. Sip has got a hold on her and knows how to use her raw and alluring sexuality on Shay.

From the beginning the odds are against them in a story that asks: is love ever enough? The author has said she wrote in an experimental format to make the story more relatable. And boy did she succeed. The flow and structure of the novel glides smoothly. Ngamlana’s style is raw and honest. You’ll feel an extra hurt if you have ever been in a destructive relationship, or know anyone who is in one. If this is what Ngamlana is starting off with, then we’re signing up to her fan club, like, immediately.

Follow Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

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Tjo!StoryFest: Everyone Has A Story

Tshwane residents are in for a unique treat. They will be closing off Youth Month and welcoming Mandela Month with a new, exciting edition to the cultural calendar: Tjo!StoryFest! This event is touted as an annual event on the cultural calendar of Tshwane.

The inaugural Tjo!StoryFest is a Creative Festival focusing on the creative arts that will take place at the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi Campus. This year, festival highlights of the two-day event include a special tribute to community activists Florence and Fabian Ribeiro. We celebrate Tshwane-born writer Kagiso Lesego’s novel The Mending Season, included in the Grade 12 curriculum, and there will be interactive readings featuring South African celebrities Hlubi Mboya, Sisanda Henna, and Lindiwe Matshikiza.

“Tjo!StoryFest is an exploration of how communities can practically assert and implement the common desire for ‘telling our own stories’. The decision to pay tribute to Fabian and Florence Ribeiro is a way of highlighting the importance of biographies in our communities. Many of us travel along Florence Ribeiro Drive but would not know what to say if a we are asked who she is,” explains Festival Director, Kgauhelo Dube.

The project has been a close collaboration between Kgauhelo Dube’s Orenda Arts Collective, a non-profit organisation, The University of Pretoria’s, Faculty of Humanities, the Mamelodi Campus, and Elinor Sisulu’s Puku Children’s Literature Foundation.

Professor Nthabiseng Ogude, Dean of the Mamelodi Campus says: “This festival is a welcome addition to what we are building at the Mamelodi Campus, University of Pretoria. To create synergies between the university and the people of Mamelodi. It is about turning to that which brings us in solidarity with each other, namely to tap into the untold stories in all of us that we are keen to discover as a common purpose.”

“As Dean of Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, I’m most excited to be part of the celebration of the often-untold yet vast creative and intellectual heritage coming from our capital city. Tshwane is a place so many of our greats call home… think about Nelson Mandela, Eskia Mphahlele, Sello Hatang, Vusi Mahlasela, Moses Mogale, Dolly Rathebe, Nakedi Ribane, Can Temba – the list is virtually endless. Tjo! Storyfest is an opportunity for us to all reflect on these BIG and yet untold stories about people, place and history, enabling us to dig into memory with our goal of building a community archive,” adds Prof Vasu Reddy.

Seeing that the festival also coincides with the beginning of the Winter school holidays, the programme will feature exciting mini-events for the youth with dynamic young speakers talking about topics as vast as running active book clubs, careers in the media and publishing sector, and lots more. Publishing maverick, Thabiso Mahlape, is set to give a punchy motivational talk about how being a “bookworm” eventually led her to an exciting career. Tjo!StoryFest will be celebrating Thabiso’s achievements; especially Bonang Matheba’s book “From A To B” – which her imprint BlackBirdBooks will soon be launching.

Exciting times. Exciting stories.

The full programme can be found here: tjo story fest programmeFINAL (1)

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The Equilibrist: Andrew Salomon’s latest dark fantasy thriller

Andrew Salomon has received the PEN Literary Award for African Fiction and the Short.Sharp.Stories Award. His debut novel, Tokoloshe Song was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award and his short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

He is the author of the Young Adult thrillers The Chrysalis and Wonderbear (available at the end of July) and his latest novel is the dark fantasy thriller The Equilibrist.

Andrew completed an MA at the Institute for Archaeology at University College London and some of his most memorable experiences have been at rock painting and engraving sites in rock shelters and subterranean caves across the world. These often find their way into his fiction.

The Equilibrist:

On the first night the Circus Basilisk spends outside the Northern England town of Kirkholme, aspiring tightwire performer Flynn Oakley finds out just how easily his hard-earned and well-balanced world can fall apart.

Falsely accused of a monstrous crime and forced to flee from his adoptive home, Flynn becomes the first person to run away from the circus.

Finding himself hunted by a devious cabal formed by the candy butcher, a family of aerialists called The Flying Gremaldis and the sinister, crow-like Raffen, Flynn has to trust in unlikely alliances to try and save the only place he has ever called home.

And even though he has found shelter inside a subterranean network of tunnels and caverns under the nearby Bleaks – a desolate high moor on the other side of the fell that looms over the circus camp – something else also inhabits this netherworld, and Flynn is yet to discover if it is friend or foe.
‘A mesmerising novel, beautifully written and full of heart. I loved it.’
- Sarah Lotz

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Wenners van Media24-boekpryse vir 2017 bekend

Die wenners van die Media24 Boeke Literêre Pryse vir 2017 is Donderdag, 22 Junie 2017 in Kaapstad bekend gemaak.

Nagenoeg 80 boeke wat in 2016 by uitgewerye in die Media24-stal verskyn het, is ingeskryf in vyf kategorieë met ’n gesamentlike prysgeld van meer as R175 000.

Die oorhandiging van die pryse het saamgeval met ’n groot mylpaal – die viering van 100 jaar van boekuitgewery binne die Naspersstal.

Die wenner van die W.A. Hofmeyr-prys vir Afrikaanse fiksie is Dan Sleigh met sy historiese roman 1795, uitgegee deur Tafelberg. Dit is die derde keer dat Sleigh hierdie belangrike prys ontvang. 1795 is deur die keurders beskryf as ’n “ambisieuse museale roman waarin Sleigh se uitsonderlike kennis van die VOC-geskiedenis indringend verhaal word. Sleigh laat oortuigend sien dat gebeure uit 1795 relevant en aktueel is, veral wanneer dit gaan om verset teen verraad en korrupsie en om opstand teen die verlies van kultuur en taal.”

Die ondersoekende joernalis en etnograaf Sean Christie het die Recht Malan-prys vir niefiksie verower met sy Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard: Life Among the Stowaways oor jong Tanzaniese skeepsverstekelinge wat onder ’n oorwegbrug op die Kaapstadse strandgebied woon. Dit is uitgegee deur Jonathan Ball Publishers. Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard is volgens die keurders ’n buitengewone prestasie en ’n verruimende leeservaring. “Met groot en uitdagende kwashale gee Sean Christie ’n verrassend vars en uitdagende blik op ’n stad wat iedereen gedink het hulle ken.”

Bibi Slippers is met die Elisabeth Eybers-prys vir poësie beloon vir haar debuutbundel Fotostaatmasjien (Tafelberg), wat deur die keurders geloof is vir die omvang en verskeidenheid van die materiaal wat tot samehang gebring word en vir sy “innovering-met-gehalte”.

Die M.E.R.-prys vir jeugromans is toegeken aan Edyth Bulbring vir Snitch, uitgegee deur Tafelberg, en die M.E.R.-prys vir geïllustreerde kinderboeke aan Ingrid Mennen en Irene Berg (illustreerder) vir Ink, ook uitgegee deur Tafelberg. Dit is die tweede keer dat Mennen en Berg hierdie prys wen.

Die keurders was: Vir die WA Hofmeyr-prys: Ena Jansen, Danie Marais en Francois Smith; vir die Recht Malan-prys: Jean Meiring, Elsa van Huyssteen en Max du Preez; vir die Elisabeth Eybers-prys: Henning Pieterse, Louise Viljoen en Marius Swart; vir die M.E.R.-prys vir jeugromans: Louise Steyn, Verushka Louw en Wendy Maartens; en vir die M.E.R.-prys vir geïllustreerde kinderboeke: Lona Gericke, Paddy Bouma en Magdel Vorster.

Die Herman Charles Bosman-prys vir Engelse fiksie is nie vanjaar toegeken nie en staan oor tot volgende jaar.


Under Nelson Mandela Boulevard - Life In Cape Town's Stowaway Underground






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