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Listen to five short stories by Nadine Gordimer (including Loot read by the author) via @openculture:

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Rian Malan Reviews Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle by Richard Poplak

Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political JungleVerdict: carrot

Comparisons are odious, but Mr Poplak has clearly looked at Thompson’s craft and adapted aspects of it for his own devious purposes, which makes Until Julius Comes some sort of far-flung spawn of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail. Many are called to emulate the Thompson gonzo. Almost all fail. But Until Julius Comes can stand shoulder to shoulder with its illustrious ancestor and not feel in the least ashamed. Odds are therefore that it too will be read and remembered long after the details of who won what in 2014 are forgotten. If I were Malusi Gigaba, I might just be a bit worried about that.

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Gwen Ansell Reviews Marxisms in the 21st Century by Michelle Williams and Vishwas Satgar

Marxisms in the 21st Century: Crisis, Critique and StruggleVerdict: carrot with some criticism

The aim of this collection is not to define Marxism but, as its title declares, to explore the variety of positions, analyses and debates that have emerged under the banner. That provides a refreshing diversity. All the same, some readers – especially if their only previous encounters with the term are through media calumnies – might hanker after one essay drawing together the unifying threads.

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  • Marxisms in the 21st Century: Crisis, Critique and Struggle edited by Michelle Williams and Vishwas Satgar
    EAN: 9781868147533
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Tributes Pour in for Wole Soyinka in Celebration of His 80th Birthday

Wole Soyinka

Nigerian playwright, novelist and poet Wole Soyinka, the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, turned 80 on Sunday.

AkeHarmattan Haze on an African SpringOf AfricaWole SoyinkaThe InterpretersSelected PoemsYou Must Set Forth at Dawn

Being the first black Nobel laureate, and the first African, the African world considered me personal property. I lost the remaining shreds of my anonymity, even to walk a few yards in London, Paris or Frankfurt without being stopped.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Soyinka explained where his love for literature came from:

“I suspect that I probably come from a long family of ‘word spinners’. I mean that in the sense of an extended family, because ‘family’ as we use it is a very large one. I was constantly surrounded by aunts, uncles, my father’s intellectual companions. All of them were raconteurs of some sort or the other,” he said.

As part of his birthday celebrations, Soyinka personally presented this year’s Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa to fellow Nigerian author Akin Bello recently.

The winner of this years Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa was announced at a grand ceremony at The Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos this past Friday night. His name is Akin Bello and the work that won him the award is the play The Egbon of Lagos beating the two contenders Toyin Abiodun and Othuke Ominibohs. He went home with the prize money of $20,000.

Soyinka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986, has always been vocal about political and social injustice, and has been outspoken on Nigeria’s Boko Haram kidnapping crisis this year. However, in an interview with The Guardian in 2011, Soyinka appeared to announce his retirement from political life. In an article for Nigeria’s Premium Times, Tolu Ogunlesi offers his sympathies to the man for the “random act of pre-existential allocation” that twinned him with Nigeria, a country that “delights, more than most, in numbing its people with unoriginal frustration”.

Ogunlesi quotes Soyinka’s interview with The Guardian:

“I’m getting a little bit bored with this Sisyphean struggle. I’m not exhausted; I can drop down dead tomorrow, that’s irrelevant, I want be around to witness the event. At the moment I do not feel I’m devoid of energy; [or that] my energy is diminished, whether mentally or physically. No. But something in me is getting very weary. And that is the burden of repetition; that it is possible in my own state for someone to sit down and try and turn a town house meeting into his own thuggish platform. It’s over fifty years now, I’ve been marching, I know the number of times I’ve been tear-gassed and of course gone through trials, a prisoner without trials, and so on and so forth. I don’t mind any of that. Mandela spent one entire generation of his life in jail; so I don’t grudge any of that. But if I feel inside me that I’m getting bored on a subject or theme or endeavour I become less creative and I don’t want that to happen to me.”

Tributes to the great man flooded in on Twitter:

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Image courtesy of Victor Dlamini

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Christopher Merrett Reviews With My Head Above the Parapet by Ben Turok

With My Head Above the Parapet: An insider account of the ANC in powerVerdict: carrot

Polymath, independent thinker and innovator, ANC stalwart Ben Turok has spent the past 20 years in provincial and national government. Here he has been known primarily for his views on development economics, appropriate enough as he drafted the economic clause of the Freedom Charter.
Over the years he was periodically in trouble with the ANC and expelled from the South African Communist Party. True to that legacy, he describes himself as an “organic intellectual trapped in Parliament” rather than a politician.

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Read a Preview of the New Issue of Chimurenga’s Pan-African Gazette, the Chronic

One Day I Will Write About This PlaceHead on FireBurma BoyGirls at War

The new issue of Chimurenga‘s Pan-African gazette, Chronic, features Binyavanga Wainaina meeting Youssou N’Dour; Willem Boshoff; Lesego Rampolokeng’s interview of Mafika Gwala; Mogorosi Motshumi on the lack of Black Consciousness in South African comics; and an insert containing the lost issue of Zebulon Dread’s Hei Voetsek!

For the new issue of Chimurenga’s pan African gazette, the Chronic, the focus is on graphic stories; comic journalism. Blending illustrations, photography, written analysis, infographics, interviews, letters and more, visual narratives speak of everyday complexities in the Africa in which we live.

Chronic, a quarterly publication which was launched in March last year, was born out of “an urgent need to write our world differently”. It is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Goethe-Intitut. The print edition is available at selected stockists, or direct from Chimurenga’s online shop.

Read an excerpt from Chronic’s interview with Mogorosi Motshumi:

Graeme Arendse: After the end of apartheid much of the cultural activity that accompanied the struggle dissipated…

Mogorosi Motshumi: That’s right. Some of the casualties included what was known as the alternative media. I think there was the mutual belief among both funders and activists that certain objectives had been achieved and that the road to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow had been cleared. There was so much hope for, and anticipation of, new beginnings. Suddenly there were no publications like Learn and Teach and Upbeat and Staffrider and New Nation. I ended up doing sports cartoons for City Press and Daily Sun. For me, the transition from pre- to post-apartheid cartooning and general cultural activism matter is as basic as right versus wrong. Evil cannot be right simply because it wears a black face.

Chimurenga Chronic New Edition – Preview! by Books LIVE

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Willem Jordaan resenseer Opposite Mandela deur Tony Leon

Opposite MandelaUitspraak: wortel

Ongekende internasionale rou oor ’n staatsman – tereg gekenmerk deur ’n uitstorting van lof en eerbewyse – het gevolg ná Madiba se dood op 5 Desember 2013. G’n mens is net goed of net sleg nie, en daarom is dit vanselfsprekend dat hierdie perspektiewe in die proses van geskiedskrywing met kritiek getemper sal word.

In die tyd wat voorlê, sal baie van hierdie perspektiewe geboekstaaf word, en Opposite Mandela is ’n belangrike bydrae tot die historiese post mortem waaruit die veelkantigheid van Mandela – die goed én die sleg – noodwendig in groter balans gebring sal word.


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South Africa’s Iconic Stories: Exclusive Books Reveal Homebru Selection for 2014

Alert! Exclusive Books has announced the annual Homebru list, celebrating the best of South African fiction and non-fiction.

There are 48 books on the list, including the shortlists for this year’s Sunday Times Alan Paton Award and Fiction Prize, the winners of which were announced last Saturday.

Fiction highlights on the list include Lauren Beukes‘ latest offering, Broken Monsters, Sarah Lotz‘ thriller The Three and Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer.

Non-fiction fans are also spoilt for choice, with titles including Lost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser, Gareth van Onselen’s Clever Blacks, Jesus and Nkandla: The Real Jacob Zuma in His Own Words, Tony Leon’s Opposite Mandela, Justice: A Personal Account by Edwin Cameron and Zelda la Grange’s explosive memoir Good Morning, Mr Mandela, which is already taking the country by storm.

Here’s the complete 2014 Exclusive Books Homebru list. Get reading!

How to Fix South Africa's SchoolsRetreatThe Story of Anna P, as Told by HerselfDoing Life with MandelaSouth African BattlesWhat's Gone Wrong?On Route in SA

Op Pad in Suid-AfrikaLost and Found in JohannesburgThe ThreeDear BulletOpposite MandelaClever Blacks, Jesus and NkandlaJustice

Oliver Tambo SpeaksKrokodil aan my skouer21st Century MegatrendsDubbelspelUntitledLondon – Cape Town – JoburgThe Ties That Bind

Verdeelde landA Time Traveller's Guide to Our Next Ten YearsWinterkos in ProvenceWinter Food in ProvenceVyf-en-veertig skemeraandsange uit die eenbeendanser se werkruimteI'm Not Your Weekend Special

IncognitoThe Crazy Life of Larry JoeUnbelievable!Good Morning, Mr MandelaGoeiemore, Mnr. MandelaBo-Kaap Kitchen100 Good Ideas

Arctic SummerDark WindowsCall It Like It IsBroken Monsters

The Sunday Times Alan Paton Award Shortlist

A Rumour of SpringThe Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer WarMy Second InitiationPortrait of a Slave SocietyRichard Rive

The Sunday Times Fiction Prize Shortlist

The Spiral House PenumbraWolf, WolfThe Shining GirlsFalse River

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Rebecca Davis Reviews A Jacana Pocket History: The ANC Women’s League: Sex, Politics and Gender by Shireen Hassim

A Jacana Pocket History: The ANC Women's League: Sex, Politics and GenderVerdict: carrot

When the ANC Women’s League is spoken of today, it is often with a sense of frustration and betrayal. A once-proud movement, one narrative runs, now inaudible on the real issues which threaten South African women. Leaders of the League take up front-row seats at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, while staying invisible on less high-profile cases involving gender-based violence. The League launches a prominent campaign to protest against the abduction of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram, yet – as EFF leader Julius Malema pointed out last week – they had nothing to say on the alleged presentation of a woman to Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

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‘I’m Very Cynical About Literary Prizes’ – Max du Preez on Winning the 2014 Alan Paton Award

Benjamin Trisk, Max du Preez and Phylicia Oppelt

A Rumour of SpringMax du Preez gave a witty, self-deprecating and inspiring acceptance speech upon winning the 2014 Alan Paton Award on Saturday night.

Du Preez, who was described by MC Nik Rabinowitz as a “national treasure”, won the award for A Rumour of Spring, beating Vusi Pikoli and Mandy Wiener (My Second Initiation: The Memoir of Vusi Pikoli), Karel Schoeman (Portrait of a Slave Society: The Cape of Good Hope 1717 – 1795), Elizabeth van Heyningen (The Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War: A Social History) and Shaun Viljoen (Richard Rive: a Partial Biography).

After thanking Sunday Times and the judges and sponsors Exclusive Books, Du Preez joked that the only reason he attended the awards was because he was hoping to meet one of his “all-time heroes”, Karel Schoeman, adding that the award “really should have gone to” the reclusive writer.

Du Preez also spoke about the positive reaction he has had from people about A Rumour of Spring, saying that it indicated that “this nation is strong”.

“Freedom is written in the hearts of the people here,” he said, adding that he hopes he made it clear in the book that South Africans “are bigger, as a nation, than the government of the day and the politicians”.

Congratulations, Max!

Read the full speech:

I have to be very honest, but let me just say thank you very much to Sunday Times and the judges and Exclusive Books. This is special, and I can use the money to do the research on my next book, which is due out at the end of the year, so thank you very much.

I’m very cynical about these literary prizes. I very rarely agree with the decisions made, and I certainly disagree with tonight’s decision. People who know me would tell you that I don’t do lots of people, I don’t feel comfortable when I’m surrounded by a lot of people. I only came tonight because I thought I was going to meet Karel Schoeman. And then he didn’t come! Which has kind of destroyed my night. But Karel Schoeman is one of my all-time heroes. He’s influenced my thinking, I envy his knowledge and his commitment. This really should have gone to him. He’s a spectacular guy. I’m sorry to miss him once again. He doesn’t return my phonecalls or my emails. For 25 years.

I was also reminded, when Claire [Robertson] spoke and Barry [Ronge] spoke, that I also once worked for the Sunday Times. In fact, 30 years ago, I was the political correspondent for the Sunday Times, and I worked under Tertius Myburgh, who was entertaining company, but, and that brings it back to my book, because that’s really what my book was about. I had the privilege of sitting in the front row, watching the drama of South Africa, from 1975 to now, to witness events. And I remember Tertius Myburgh, and the battles I had with him, and then dark days of the mid-80s late-80s, and then I look at Phylicia Oppelt, who is the editor of the Sunday Times today, and that to me is the story of South Africa, and it’s a beautiful story, and I try to tell that story in my book; looking back at 20 years but also looking at where we are now and where we are going forward to.

I was particularly pleased that the book sold very well, not only because I really needed the royalties. The kind of feedback that the simple message of that book has got is that we can moan and bitch as much as we like, we can blame Jacob Zuma or whoever as much as we like, but at the core of it, this nation is strong. Freedom is written in the hearts of the people here. This is an open society.

I believe that Clem Sunter [author of 21st Century Megatrends: Perspectives from a Fox] is very angry with me. I do respect him as a person but this nonsense about South Africa becoming a failing society or a failed society. I hope I explained convincingly in my book – and I think I have, listening to the reaction of people – that we are bigger, as a nation, than the government of the day and the politicians.

I would just like to also say I think part of the explanation for the good sales of my book was a really good cover. And the cover of my book was designed by my wife. So thank you to Angela Tuck, my wife, who designed this and some of my other book covers and also for her patience. She is always my first editor.

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Claire Robertson and Max du Preez Win the 2014 Sunday Times Literary Awards

The Spiral House A Rumour of SpringAlert! Old non-fiction hand Max du Preez and debut novelist Claire Robertson were announced as the winners of the 2014 Sunday Times Literary Awards at a gala event this evening in Johannesburg.

Du Preez won the Alan Paton Award for his book A Rumour of Spring: South Africa after 20 Years of Democracy, published by Zebra Press, while Robertson won the Fiction Prize for her novel The Spiral House, published by Umuzi. Both prizes are worth R75 000.

The Sunday Times Literary Awards, in association with Exclusive Books, mark their 25th anniversary this year. The Alan Paton Award is given for a work of non-fiction that promotes “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it which are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power; compassion; elegance of writing; and intellectual and moral integrity”. The Fiction Prize is given for a “work of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark in contemporary fiction.”

The Sunday Times produced a commemorative book to mark its 25 years of literary celebration, which contains excerpts from all the winning books to date, and was given to those who attended this evening’s ceremony.

Former Sunday Times columnist and veteran entertainment journalist Barry Ronge received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt, who said the award was in appreciation of his lifelong dedication to his craft, his love of language and ability to write with refinement and dignity. It was also announced that, from next year, the Fiction Prize would be named in his honour.

Novelist and poet Christopher Hope gave the evening’s main address, remembering Alan Paton’s contribution, not only to South Africa’s letters, but also to its democracy:

The numbers of white South Africans willing to stand up and speak for NelsonMandela were vanishingly small. Paton they saw as mad, bad or both. Hells Bells , he had founded the Liberal Party, and called for a free vote for every South African, and rejected the crazy idea that one race trumped all others; he even believed ,unlike those who ruled our country then, that beating , locking-up or shooting your citizens did not in any way improve their behaviour .

So when Paton volunteered to testify as a character- witness in the Rivonia Trial, many of his white compatriots saw him as even madder, badder and more dangerous to know.

Books LIVE will publish Hope’s complete address next week; you can also find excerpts from it in this Sunday’s Sunday Times.

The Fiction Prize judges called called The Spiral House an “astonishingly adept and richly imagined novel, a layered, subtle story that resonates with important ideas about history. We applaud the sensuous quality of the writing and were amazed by its remarkable language.”

The Alan Paton judging panel called du Preez’s book a “bracing, opinionated read, ‘vintage Max du Preez’. A nuanced and well-crafted work, casting a rigorous critical eye not only on the powers that be, but on ordinary citizens and the writer himself. This is the best of all the reflections on 20 years of democracy published last year.”

Last year’s winners were Karen Jayes for fiction and Redi Tlhabi for non-fiction.

Du Preez pipped books by Shaun Viljoen, Vusi Pikoli and Mandy Wiener, Karel Schoeman and Elizabeth van Heyningen to the Alan Paton post:

In A Rumour of Spring, he “investigates and analyses the progress — and lack of progress — the country has made during the past 20 years. He looks at the legacies of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki and examines Jacob Zuma’s presidency to better understand where we are. In the context of blatant corruption, populism and tragedies such as the Marikana massacre, the book considers the current state of the ruling party and the opposition, and dissects the big issues afflicting our society. And then, he dares to look to the future.”

Meanwhile, Robertson’s book was in the running with novels from Lauren Beukes, Dominique Botha, Songeziwe Mahlangu and Eben Venter.

In Robertson’s The Spiral House, “two stories echo across centuries to expose that which binds us and sets us free. The year is 1794 and Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. On Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love. Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer – an Englishman and suspected Communist – who collects and studies insects.”

Watch a video from the event:

YouTube Preview Image

Hearty congratulations to Max du Preez and Claire Robertson!

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