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Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

“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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Listen: Eusebius McKaiser in conversation with Rehana Rossouw

Rehana Rossouw’s unique voice gives life and drama to the family saga, What Will People Say?.

It is the story of the Fourie family, residents of Hanover Park in the Cape Flats during the height of the struggle era. The main characters include Magda, the churchgoing mother, who doesn’t see what’s going on in front of her; Neville, the concerned and loving but not always effectual father; Suzette, the oldest daughter, who is bound and determined to get away and make a better life for herself via a career in modelling; Nicky, the smart and sensitive middle child, who proves herself capable of making unselfish choices; and Anthony, the naïve and doomed son, who gets caught up with a gang and meets a sad end.

In What Will People Say? the setting is everything, and the author doesn’t stint on the details of the world her characters inhabit. Readers who have never set foot in Hanover Park will feel they are there, and those who know the place will nod in recognition of the sensory details the author loads into her writing. Nor does the author shy away from the difficult issues faced by those living in this marginalised and disadvantaged community, which came into being as a result of the forced removals from Cape Town. How these issues affect the members of a particular family and their relationships with one another are the focus of the author’s close-up lens.

Generously spiced with Cape Flats slang; lots of vivid and gritty description that give an authentic feel to the story; plenty of plot – the writer draws us in and makes us curious about what will happen next; and very human characters we come to care about.

Rossouw was born and rooted in Cape Town, but is currently in self-imposed exile in Johannesburg. She has been a journalist for three decades and has also taught journalism and creative writing. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from Wits University.

Eusebius McKaiser and Rossouw recently discussed her acclaimed novel on McKaiser’s 702 literary programme, Literature Corner. Listen to their conversation:


What Will People Say

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Franschhoek Literary Festival 2017: the podcasts

The quaint Western Cape town of Franschhoek recently played host to the country’s literary greats for the eleventh annual Franschhoek Literary Festival.

In between dashing from shady spot to shady spot, consuming copious amounts of Porcupine Ridge wine and buying books, festival-goers attended panel discussions with a vast range of topics. If you couldn’t make it this year, or happened to miss a discussion, we’ve got you covered.

Click here to listen to the recordings of the 2017 discussions.

(To those of us who were there – do you now get why we had to turn our phones off…)

From victim to survivor (Old School Hall): Michelle Hattingh (I’m the Girl Who Was Raped) uncovers stories of courage, faith and perseverance in the face of opposition and adversity as told by Grizelda Grootboom (Exit), Lindiwe Hani (Being Chris Hani’s Daughter) and Shamim Meer (Memories of Love and Struggle).)


How powerful are Constitutions? (New School Hall): Tembeka Ngcukaitobi speaks to three human rights advocates – former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs, author Deborah Lipstadt and author and professor of law at University College London Philippe Sands – about the role of a country’s constitution in protecting human rights.


Rattling the cage of discrimination (Old School Hall): Sifiso Ndlovu (The Thabo Mbeki I Know), Anastacia Tomson (Always Anastacia), Griffin Shea and Marianne Thamm (Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela and Me) interrogate the systems that divide South Africans, and how we can dismantle them.


Crossing the arts (Elephant & Barrel): ‘Polyartists’ Carol Mashigo (actor/writer), Rian Malan (writer/musician) and Sam Wilson (film producer /writer) tell Africa Melane about the crossover between their various artistic lives and what they mean to them.

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Listen to John Conyngham discuss his latest book Hazara on SAfm Literature

John Conyngham was recently interviewed by Nancy Richards on SAfm Literature about his latest book Hazara.

You can listen to the podcast of the interview here:



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Amabookabooka releases unaired episode to coincide with 109th anniversary of the birth of Bram Fischer

Amabookabooka, the quirky podcast devoted to interviewing local authors about their work, recently released a special edition episode.

This episode is from a previous podcast series produced by the Amabookabooka-duo, Jonathan Ancer and Dan Dewes, called Extraordinary Lives and has been released to coincide with the 109th anniversary of the birth of Bram Fischer – described by Ancer and Dewes as the South African prime minister we should have had.

Lord Joel Joffe, a human rights lawyer, who was on the legal team that defended the Rivonia Trialists in 1964 talks about Bram, whom he describes as his hero.

Fischer’s daughter, Ilse Wilson, also joins in the conversation revealing a different side to the Scarlet Pimpernel – that of Bram the father.

Listen to the podcast here.

Bram Fischer

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The Bram Fischer Waltz


Fischer's Choice

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The Magwood on Books podcast with John Boyne

John Boyne’s new novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies chronicles the life of a gay man in Dublin. Here he talks about the hypocrisy of the Catholic church, his determination to write strong female characters and how his deadpan humour serves the story.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Heart's Invisible Furies

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Past imperfect: Michele Magwood talks to Marianne Thamm about her ‘memoir of sorts’, Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela And Me

Marianne Thamm struggled to come to terms with her father’s Nazi history, writes Michele Magwood for the Sunday Times

Marianne ThammHitler, Verwoerd, Mandela And MeHitler, Verwoerd, Mandela and Me
Marianne Thamm (Tafelberg)

Marianne Thamm subtitles this book “A memoir of sorts” but it is less a memoir than an exorcism of some vexing ghosts. “I see it as a ritual slaughtering of a beast to my ancestors,” she laughs. “All of us require at some stage to go back and excavate a bit – to try and see who we are with the politics, the religion, the culture and everything else sloughed off, to try and find an essential self.”

Thamm is a towering figure on the intellectual landscape of the country, a ranging, incisive commentator with a quick wit and a gutsy mien. As the ghostwriter of such books as the bestselling I Have Life: Alison’s Journey she’s proved to be a fluent and sympathetic voice for harrowing stories. As a hard news reporter on the Cape Times in the ’80s she calmly covered appalling violence. She’s a one-woman fight club swinging at the bullies, the brainless, the venal.

It’s fascinating, then, to learn what forged this mettle. Thamm was born in the UK to parents who found refuge there after World War II. Her mother, Barbara, was a near-illiterate Portuguese woman who had fled the septic regime of the dictator Salazar to work “in service” in England. Her father, Georg, was a full-blown Nazi, first a member of the Hitler Youth, then a pilot in the Luftwaffe, who had been captured and interned in a POW camp in England. When the war ended he chose to stay in England, and met the gorgeous Barbara at a social club for immigrants and refugees. He proposed to her using a Portuguese-German dictionary. Like many who had walked out of the ruins of the war, they were eager to start a family, to live a “normal” life.

Her father’s past dogged Thamm from an early age, especially after watching The World At War series on TV. They argued about it constantly. She would ask him what his response had been to Kristallnacht. “I vas just a boy on a bicycle,” he replied. “I was very hard on him,” she says, “because for me he embodied Nazism. I was horrified that he was of me and I was of him.” But, she adds, “I see in retrospect that by casting him as the negative, the dark side, I could exonerate myself from exploring my own dark side, as a white South African.”

She could never understand why they chose to move to South Africa, and ultimately learned to her horror that he had been recruited by the Department of Defence in Pretoria to work on a “classified” project. Georg, a toolmaker, made the trigger for the first R1 rifle. Worse, he handed the first one to Verwoerd himself on the factory floor.

Thamm rages at this karma. “Not only six degrees of separation between me and Adolf Hitler. Now Hendrik Verwoerd had entered the orbit.”

Growing up in the depressing suburbs north of Pretoria, Thamm was wild, feral, running with a pack of children from the rough neighbourhood. “I became a tomboy because of the freedom boys had,” she says. “To move through the world without being harassed I figured I had to pass as a boy.” Not that it stopped the casual predation of adult men: when a neighbour felt her up her father refused to believe her. When a cafe owner did the same, she told her mother who accosted him furiously. Thamm would threaten men with a smashed bottle if they tried anything. “I abhor violence but you need to stand up for yourself at times.”

Barbara was an enigma to her daughter. She lived for Marianne and her brother Albert and was protective of them, but Thamm knew very little about her upbringing in Portugal. She had a stroke when Thamm was 21 and lived, speechless, for the next 14 years. “I lost all source of benevolent love and light. It’s interesting in terms of metaphor that when she could speak she was silent, and then she became silent.”

It was only when Thamm became a parent herself that she came to truly appreciate her mother. As a gay woman, she had never considered motherhood. “I didn’t long for it. It was something that I never thought I would be.” Settled in a long-term relationship, though, she and her partner adopted two black daughters. “It has profoundly shifted me. They’ve made me real, like the Velveteen Rabbit.” Like her mother, she protects them fiercely, especially against the racism and sexism that “comes at them” constantly.

She’s preoccupied with the question, “How do we learn to become decent, fair and just?”

We are shaped, she says, by historical forces, the personal is the political. Hence the title of the book. “Leaders bring out the best and the worst in us. Hitler and Verwoerd brought out the absolute worst in the people they led. But Mandela – while there’s much to fault about his first government – made people feel better about themselves at a very crucial time. He had moral authority.”

She’s come to terms with her father’s life and legacy. “We’d spoken through everything by the time he died. It was a blessed position to be in, to make peace with a parent. And I resolved that I was just going to try and be happy.”

•Listen to Marianne Thamm’s interview on the Magwood on Books Podcast:


Follow Michele Magwood on Twitter @michelemagwood

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From Brooklyn to Chicago – News from Masande Ntshanga’s US book tour

The ReactiveThe ReactiveAward-winning novelist Masande Ntshanga is currently in the United States for the launch of the North American-edition of his explosive debut novel, The Reactive.

The tour, organised by Ntshanga’s US-publisher Columbus independent press Two Dollar Radio, started on Saturday, 17 September, in Brooklyn, New York, and ends in San Francisco on Wednesday, 12 October.

On Thursday, 29 September, the author will be in conversation with Toni Nealie, author of The Miles Between Me, at Curbside Books & Records in Chicago.

Last night, Ntshanga gave a reading from his book at the Village Theatre in Davenport and shared a few pictures of the event on Twitter:

Ntshanga has been a busy man. Earlier this week, he could be seen signing books at The Pygmalion Festival in Illinois and earlier this month he was spotted at the 2016 Brooklyn Book Festival where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Okey Ndibe and other prominent authors from all over the world. At the festival, he participated in a panel discussion entitled “Body Language – Heart, Eyes, Blood” with French writer Maylis de Kerangal and Chilean Lina Meruane.



Between all the book launches, signings and readings, Ntshanga has also been an excellent interviewee.

On Friday, 23 September, he was a guest on WOSU Radio in Columbus, Ohio, where he discussed The Reactive with host Christopher Purdy, WOSU book critic Kassie Rose and author Lina Maria Ferreira Castenga-Valdenas.

Ntshanga speaks about the title of the book and the special relationship between the characters. Rose says she was “greatly taken in by the voice” in The Reactive. “That voice took me through all of the book.”

Listen to the podcast:

During his visit to Columbus, the author was a visiting scholar at the Columbus College of Art & Design and he also chatted to Justin McIntosh for Columbus Alive.

Read the interview:

Violence buzzes in the background, though it’s mostly unnoticed by the characters, in the same way that, over time, you can learn to ignore the train that passes behind your house. Seen from above, Ntshanga notes, South African fields look like honeycombs because they’re dotted with so many empty graves. Cecilia, for one, isn’t disturbed by the gunshots so much as the lack of sirens that follow. Nathi tries to justify the brutality around him.

“This isn’t so much killing as it is cleaning up a mess,” he says. “These kids, all of them, they’re already dead.”

Today, Ntshanga will attend the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City and tomorrow he’ll visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s creative writing students.

Next week, the author will do a reading at an event hosted by the University of Georgia Creative Writing Program and the Avid Poetry Series. He will also visit the Emory College Department of Arts and Sciences.

We have our Google alerts set and our ears on the ground, so watch this space for more exciting news on Ntshanga’s US book tour. You can also follow him on Twitter @mntshanga or see the complete tour schedule on Two Dollar Radio’s website.
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Long Story Short’s first African language podcast – Presley Chweneyagae reads Sabata-Mpho Mokae’s Ga Ke Modisa

Ga Ke ModisaThe Story of Sol T. Plaatje

The Long Story Short initiative, launched by arts and culture entrepreneur Kgauhelo Dube, has reached yet another literary milestone – their first podcast in an African language!

In this podcast, well-known actor Presley Chweneyagae of Tsotsi fame reads an extract from Sabata-Mpho Mokae’s Setswana novel Ga Ke Modisa. In 2013, Mokae’s novel won an M-Net Literary Award in the African languages and film categories.

Listen to the reading, which was recorded earlier this year at the inaugural Rutanang Book Fair in Tlokwe, North West Province. At the time, Dube exclaimed: “We are also very excited as the talented performer Presley Chweneyagae will be reading the first Setswana story in the Long Story Short series!”

Watch the video:

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Listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading her short story ‘Olikoye’

AmericanahHalf of a Yellow Sun Purple Hibiscus


For this week’s Fiction Friday, treat your ears to the enchanting voice of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading her short story “Olikoye”.

The story was written as part of The Art of Saving a Life Project, which aims to increase awareness around the value of vaccines for children.

More than 30 artists took part in the project, which was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, resulting is a collection of stories about how vaccines can change the course of history.

“I hope the story humanises the importance of healthcare, in addition to paying tribute to a great Nigerian,” Adichie says. “I was happy to be involved because I admire the work being done, and because I believe that access to basic healthcare is a human right.”

“Olikoye” tells the story of Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a former paediatrician, activist, and Nigerian health minister who passed away in 2003. Ransome-Kuti’s brother was the famous musician Fela Kuti.

Adichie read the story for the BBC:

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Image courtesy of Kisua

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