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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

“A collection of stories about nobodies who discover that they matter” – Mohale Mashigo discusses Intruders with Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi

Published in the Sunday Times

By Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi

The acclaimed author of Intruders, Mohale Mashigo. Picture: Sydelle Willow Smith.

 

Intruders ****
Mohale Mashigo, Picador Africa, R180

“A collection of stories about nobodies who discover that they matter.” That is how Mohale Mashigo describes her latest, Intruders. And while the short stories are set in the future (yet deeply rooted in the past) SA, and they feature familiar characters, the author requests that we don’t label the tales in Intruders “Afrofuturism”.

She says Afrofuturism (the genre du jour in literature, film and – as Nando’s points out in their latest cheeky ad – marketing) doesn’t “feel like the right coat to dress my stories in”.

And once you’ve devoured all 12 stories in the book, you understand why Mashigo feels the need for that disclaimer in the first place. To refer to Intruders as Afrofuturism is lazy and inaccurate. The stories aren’t as performative as that label would suggest and while they have a strong sense of familiarity, it’s not in a “seen this all before”, unoriginal way.

The familiarity in Intruders is both comforting and disconcerting. The people in the stories could be our friends, our families, our neighbours – they could be us. The settings are familiar to anyone who knows any corner of this land. That makes it harder to dismiss these tales of werewolves, mutants, monster slayers, shapeshifters and magicians as just tales of fiction.

It’s difficult to do so when you get sucked into them quickly because you recognise the world they are set in. Some of the stories themselves are inspired by or make reference to tales that many of us grew up on.

About this, Mashigo says: “Some of our stories are so magical, scary and downright beautiful. I wanted to show people that there is value in what we have … Our things are nice too!”

For instance, “BnB in Bloem”, a story about two sisters who hunt monsters, brings up the legendary story of Vera the Ghost.

There are a few different versions of Vera’s story, but the basic premise is that she is a beautiful hitchhiker ghost picked up by men who would sleep with her and then later wake up at her gravesite. In “BnB” Vera isn’t just one apparition, but many, who are terrorising men. All of the Veras have died at the hands of the opposite sex, and are out for revenge.

“We would never have to deal with a Vera if men would stop killing women,” one of the sisters says. Imagine if every woman in SA murdered by a man returned for retribution.

That’s part of the beauty of Intruders: it is also a commentary on gender, violence, race, addiction and class in SA done masterfully and in such unexpected ways that stumbling across bits of commentary in the stories feels like discovering sweets you didn’t know were hidden in your pockets.

Take “Once Upon a Town”, for instance. It’s the tale of two brilliant children who were both the hope of their families and communities, who end up hiding in the shadows because of afflictions they have no control over.

Streetlights reflect off the Orange River in Upington. Picture: 123rf.com/Demerzel21

 
While it’s a charming love story, “Once Upon” is also incredibly sad because – while it deals with the supernatural – it’s such a familiar South African tale.

The tale of brilliance that flourished in the sun for a while before being snuffed out by circumstances beyond the control of the gifted; the gifted kids who grew up in a place that wasn’t made to nourish their kind; the gifted kids who were the hopes of their families and communities for a better life; the gifted kids who, in the end, couldn’t escape the world they lived in.

One of the best stories in the Book is “Little Vultures”, a sci-fi fantasy set in a Jurassic Park-esque world, minus the horror (well, at least in the beginning). Basically, a sci-fi Garden of Eden. A widowed scientist, who is a pariah because of an experiment, lives on a farm with the animals she has created or resurrected. She is joined by two women, both coping with their own pain in different ways (one through cosmetic surgery, the other through isolation).

While the story is a literary Venn diagram about science and magic, at its heart is a stunning tale of loss, grief, loneliness and the value of life. The story ends on a suspenseful note, which is both fantastic and frustrating. Frustrating because you want to know more.

And that is the only disappointment with the tales in Intruders: how incomplete they feel. It’s as though Mashigo sucks the reader into her supernatural world as quickly as she spits you out from it. A lot of the stories leave you feeling like an addict who needs a fix. More please. @Pearloysias

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“Who’s going to get lucky tonight?” Kate Sidley on her three current literary love interests (and not to worry, Steven – they’re only books!)

Published in the Sunday Times

I arrive home from the book launch with a new love interest. Maybe it was the wine. I shouldn’t have had that second glass, we all know how it lowers the defences. Not that that’s any excuse. I know it was entirely my doing. Be that as it may, here I am with not one, but two … shall we say … prospects.

The one was a given, I knew I was going to purchase the launch book, The Season of Glass, the new novel by Rahla Xenopolous. But then the bookstore owner, who knows me and my weakness so well, said, “That book you were asking about just came in.”

It is Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, and it’s fresh and new, all decked out with the gold stamp of the Pulitzer Prize 2018. The very many cover shouts are glowing and there’s the word “hilarious” – nothing does it for me like hilarious – and then “bedazzling” and “endearing”.

I take both books.

I get home and clamber over the mountain of unread and partially read books that I believe was, some time in the early 2000s, a small bedside table. On top is my avowed current partner – Ken Barris’s award-winning The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions.
 
Ooh, I love it. Properly, deeply love it. Wouldn’t leave it for anything. But this wouldn’t be leaving. It is a short story collection, and short story collections are by definition polyamorous. They don’t mind if you go off and frolic in other pastures for a bit. In fact, they expect it. After a dalliance, I find that I return to the relationship with renewed interest and delight.

Having made peace with a small break from Worm (it’s not you, it’s me, I tell him) I read the first few pages of The Season of Glass. You have to read the first pages on the night of the book launch. It’s the done thing. Well, it’s my done thing. The book’s a beauty, really a knock-out, but I’m not shallow, I don’t want to objectify my new love interest. It’s marvellous on the inside, too and though it’s early days, it feels like we’ve got something going.

This morning, when honest to God I should be working and not mucking around in bed with strange new books, I spot Less. In the spirit of research and professionalism (I am after all a book reviewer, and we have responsibilities), I open it up. Just a page or two. To see what all the fuss is about. I won’t lie. I’m intrigued.

Help me, then, with the eternal question of the reader – who’s going to get lucky tonight? @KateSidley

Kate Sidley is the author of 100 Mandela Moments (Jonathan Ball, R190)

The Season of Glass

Book details
The Season of Glass by Rahla Xenopoulos
EAN: 9781415209578
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Less

Less by Andrew Sean Greer
EAN: 9780349143590
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 

The Life of Worm

The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptiosn by Ken Barris
EAN: 9780795707957
Find this book with BOOK Finder!


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Short Sharp Stories Award announces panel of judges for 2018

Via Short.Sharp.Stories.

 
Our panel of judges for this year’s Short Sharp Stories Award are drawn from different literary arenas, with expertise ranging from poetry and prose to journalism and creative non-fiction.

They are currently reading the shortlisted stories and we will be announcing the winning stories soon. Each of our judges selected five entries to make up the twenty stories in the final collection, and they will also select the winning entries for this year’s competition.

Diane Awerbuck wrote Gardening at Night, which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean). Her short story collection Cabin Fever was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. Her story ‘Leatherman’ won the 2015 Short Story Day Africa competition. She co-writes a frontier-fiction series with Alex Latimer (under the nom de plume Frank Owen).

Rustum Kozain is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed poets. He has won both the Ingrid Jonker prize and the Olive Schreiner Prize for his debut poetry collection, This Carting Life.

Megan Ross is the author of Milk Fever, an acclaimed poetry debut published by uHlanga. She won the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction in 2017. She is an alumni of the Iceland Writers Retreat, and her work has featured in numerous publications (including the Short Sharp Stories anthologies).

Bongani Kona is a writer and editor at Chimurenga, a pan-African publication of arts, culture and politics. His writing has appeared in a number of anthologies and collections. He was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize for a story which appeared in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories anthology Incredible Journey, and he is the co-editor of Migrations, a short story collection that was published in 2017.


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Inskrywings vir die vierde US Woordfees-kortverhaalbundel word ingewag

Via die Woordfeeskantoor

Skrywers kan nou inskryf vir die vierde US Woordfees-kortverhaalbundel, wat by die 2019 Woordfees bekend gestel sal word. Du Toitskloof Wyne borg weer die prysgeld van R30 000 vir die wenverhaal. Een van die gepubliseerde verhale sal ook weer met die ondersteuning van kykNET vir die Silwerskermfees as kortfilm ontwikkel word.

“Die Woordfeeskortverhaalbundel se statuur het in die afgelope drie jaar tot dié van literêre instelling gegroei,” sê Saartjie Botha, direkteur van die US Woordfees. “Die hoeveelheid inskrywings groei jaarliks saam met die gehalte van die skryfwerk en die tematiese verskeidenheid in die verhale. Ons is opgewonde om te sien waarmee skrywers vir die 2019-bundel vorendag kom.”

Die skrywers wat in dié bundel opgeneem word, het in die verlede elkeen R4 000 vir hul verhale ontvang, maar danksy Du Toitskloof sal elkeen volgende jaar R5 000 in die sak steek.

“Sedert die verskyning van die eerste Woordfeesbundel in 2016 word van die beste kortverhale in Afrikaans op hierdie wyse gepubliseer,” sê die uitgewersredakteur en sameroeper van die kompetisie, Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh, wat sedert 2016 by dié projek betrokke is. “Die wedstryd het laas jaar gegroei tot ’n rekordgetal van 237 inskrywings, met stewige prysgeld sowel as ’n prestigeryke filmprys wat skrywers kan inpalm. As jy nog altyd jou hand aan ’n kortverhaal wou waag, is hierdie jou kans!”

Die 2018-wenner, Clari Niemand, se verhaal Non (kompos) mentis word in ’n kortfilm omskep wat by die 2018 Silwerskermfees vertoon sal word.

Oor Du Toitskloof Wyne se betrokkenheid sê Marius Louw, uitvoerende hoof, dat Du Toitskloof die jaarlikse Kortverhaalkompetisie as een van die kalenderjaar se hoogtepunte beskou: “Daar waar kreatiwiteit heers, wil ons graag betrokke bly, want só deel ons in die ontdekking van die skrywers se goud, skuur ons skouers met die kunste en blink ons saam agterna. Ons deelname as borg inspireer ons tot groter vindingrykheid in elke volgende avontuur wat ons aanpak.”

Skrywers wie se verhale in die bundel opgeneem gaan word, sal by die Woordfeesprogrambekendstelling in November 2018 bekend gemaak word. Die wenverhaal asook die verhaal wat vir ’n verwerking tot kortfilm gekies is, sal eers tydens die bekendstelling van die bundel, gedurende die Woordfees van 1-10 Maart 2019, aangekondig word.

Die sluitingsdatum vir inskrywings is 30 September 2018 om 16:00.

Diegene wat belangstel om meer oor die kompetisie te wete te kom of wat wil inskryf, kan gaan na www.woordfees.co.za en volg dan die skakels. E-pos met navrae kan ook gestuur word aan danie_marais@sun.ac.za – slegs skriftelike navrae sal beantwoord word. Die US Woordfees word van 1-10 Maart 2019 in Stellenbosch aangebied. Die feesprogram word in November bekend gemaak.


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Shortlist for the 2018 Short Sharp Stories Awards announced

Via Short.Sharp.Stories

We are happy to announce the shortlist for the Short Sharp Stories Awards. This year’s theme is “Instant Exposure”. We received over 120 entries for this year’s anthology, and our judges selected the stories they felt spoke best to the brief. Congratulations to the writers, whose stories will be included in Instant Exposure, and who are shortlisted for this year’s awards.

Vamumusa Malusi Khumalo
Shubnum Khan
Femi Agunbiade
Christine Coates
Michael Yee
Chantelle Grey van Heerden
Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo
Donve Lee
Rochelle Mungar
Thandekhile Ntshangase
Arja Salafranca
Sam Murray
Ambre Nicolson
Martin Botha
Bernard du Plessis
Lynn Joffe
Paul Collings
Melissa Siebert
Ian Sutherland
Tiah Beautement


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2018 Sunday Times Literary Awards winners announced

Johannesburg, 24 June 2018: The winners of the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards were announced at a gala dinner held at The Venue, Melrose Arch, on Saturday 23 June.

Bongani Ngqulunga received the Alan Paton award for non-fiction for his book, The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, while Harry Kalmer was named the recipient of the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his book, A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg. Both titles are published by Penguin Books.

The Sunday Times Literary Awards are considered the most prestigious literary accolade in South Africa.

“This year’s judging was tough but what was evident was the recognition of the art of writing. South Africa’s rich history and diverse stories are being rigorously explored, examined and celebrated,” says Jennifer Platt, Sunday Times Books Editor.

Now in its 29th year, the Alan Paton Award recognises exceptional non-fiction writing as displayed by Bongani Ngqulunga’s story The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme.

The Alan Paton judging panel consisted of Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron; journalist Paddi Clay; and award-winning writer, journalist and filmmaker, Sylvia Vollenhoven.

They said Ngqulunga’s book was “a revelatory, inspiring study of a man and a movement that reverberates right up to today. It is a scholarly, well-researched book that illuminates our flawed roots and our flawed nationhood, presented through the complex and mercurial character of Seme.”

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize panel was chaired by popular radio personality, Africa Melane, alongside Love Books owner Kate Rogan and award-winning writer Ken Barris.

“Johannesburg emerges as a fascinating beast of a city, and this is a novel way of celebrating it. The outstanding writing and innovative structure – along with memorable characters – make this an instant classic,” said the fiction prize panel of Harry Kalmer’s A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg.

Kalmer is the 18th recipient of the Sunday Times fiction prize, named for Barry Ronge, arts commentator and one of the founders of the Sunday Times Literary Awards.

Recipients of the 2018 Alan Paton Award and Barry Ronge Fiction Prize each receive R100 000.

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“The blood of the woman on the stoep of my father’s shop was redder than stoep polish.” Read an extract from Harry Kalmer’s A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, shortlisted for the 2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Published in the Sunday Times

“My name is Alice and I am as old as the mountains.”

Richard Ho’s grandmother spoke into Cherie Sadie’s camera.

“As old as the mine dumps. As old as Mandela. We were born in the same year. So I am not exactly sure what I imagine and what I remember. Is there a difference? Not much, if you ask me.

“Sometimes when I am in bed, I think I hear the whistle of a steam locomotive. But there haven’t been steam trains in Johannesburg for years. So the train I hear is probably only my memory. Or my imagination.

“At night in Chinatown you could hear the trains shunting at the municipal market and in the Braamfontein Yard. Steam trains. Toot-toot. Clickety-clack. But my first memory is of another place.

“My father owned a shop next to a mine. It was during a strike. There was a Boer woman. Afterwards we heard that her husband was a scab. She was on the stoep of my father’s cash store when a piece of coal hit her in the eye. Nobody knew who threw it. I’m telling you, she screamed. She dropped to her knees and cried like a baby. I remember it like it was yesterday. She was wearing a white apron and one of those kappies that the poor aunties wore in those days. Blood spurted from her eye like a fountain.

“I seldom speak Afrikaans these days. But the pretty words come back all the time. Words like ‘fontein’ and ‘lokomotief’. Not words you hear a lot any more, if you hear what I’m saying.

“Anyway, I’m losing track of my thoughts. The blood of the woman on the stoep of my father’s shop was redder than stoep polish. My parents tried to stop the bleeding with a towel. Older Brother who died last year at ninety-five … or was it the year before last? Anyway, Dad sent Older Brother to call the soldiers. They came with a tank or lorry or something like that and took the poor white woman away. I don’t know who the woman was and I never saw her again. But I clearly remember her eye spouting blood like a fountain. That’s the first thing I remember.”

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“It started off the way my projects often do; with a title.” Harry Kalmer writes about the origins of his novel, A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, shortlisted for the 2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Published in the Sunday Times

Harry Kalmer is an award-winning playwright and novelist who has authored six works of fiction and 23 plays. His novel En die lekkerste deel van dood wees was the runner-up in the 2007 Sanlam/Insig Groot Roman competition. Briewe aan ‘n rooi dak, based on the letters of Magdalena Otto, received the Anglo-Gold Aardklop award for best new drama in 2001, and was adapted for TV and broadcast. In 2014, his drama The Bram Fischer Waltz won the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts. He lives in Johannesburg.

It started off the way my projects often do; with a title. The title arrived on a Monday morning in 2007 outside a hardware store. At the same moment an image of a fountain with Arabic titles appeared.

The fountain I recalled from a walk in Tangiers years before. However, this image placed the fountain in a courtyard in Belgravia, the suburb that, in the 1890s was Jozi’s first walled community.

A few weeks later in Springs I waited for someone next to a pool of stagnant mine water with reeds and water fowl. I wrote what I thought was an opening line in a notebook. The line ended up on page 41 of A Thousand Tales. The fountain didn’t make it onto the page but the book was set in Belgravia and the title made it to publication.

For a long time it remained only a title. The xenophobic attacks of May 2008 and the fact that the violence spilt over into the suburb where my unwritten book was set, was a trigger. I was horrified by the proximity of the violence to my cosy middle-class existence, the brutality of the attacks and what it said about our society.

The violence became the backdrop for the novel.

A title with the words A Thousand doesn’t lend itself to a short format. I realised I needed help and enrolled in a masters in creative writing at the University of Stellenbosch. By the end of that year, thanks to my supervisors, Willem Anker and Marlene van Niekerk, I had a 300-page first draft.

I colour coded the storylines, arranged them in interesting patterns on my wall and used it as a structure for the next draft. A year and several drafts later I added the first 40 pages.

During that time I was invited to read at Africa Short Story Day – I was the only Afrikaans reader – and read a scene from my work in progress. The scene was set in the Rockey Street jazz club Rumours during the 1980s. Half the audience didn’t understand what I read. I realised that the book should also be published in English.

By 2012 I had enough of a manuscript to end up on the shortlist for the Groot Afrikaanse Romanwedstryd.

‘n Duisend Stories oor Johannesburg was finally published in 2014 and was eventually shortlisted for eight Afrikaans literary awards. I translated the book myself and Melt Myburgh and Fourie Botha at Penguin Random House said they wanted to publish it. They appointed Michael Titlestadt as editor.

I translated the book so that more people, my English-speaking family members and friends could read it. And perhaps find a few new readers.

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The shortlist for the Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction has been announced!

Via Short Story Day Africa

When planning the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize, ID, the abbreviation for “identity” and the psychoanalytic construct of the “Id” – that deep structure that houses our unconscious desires – we called for “innovative short fiction that explores identity, especially (but not limited to) the themes of gender identity and sexuality.”

We were impressed as never before by the multiple ways in which writers from all over the continent responded, the depth, variety and innovation of their interpretations. From Benin to Ethiopia, from Morocco to South Africa, the stories on the long list reveal uncomfortable and fascinating truths about who we are.

Once editing was completed, the twenty-one stories were sent to the judges. The decision to edit the stories and to engage with the authors before judging has proven to be invaluable in enabling young writers and raw talent to compete on an equal footing with their more established and experienced peers. The final stories and indeed the shortlisted stories are more evenly balanced between those already making their mark in terms of publication and awards, and extremely talented writers who are new to the adventure of publishing or only just venturing into the terrain of short fiction.

This year, for the first time, we opted for a broad spread of volunteer judges, ably assisted by The Johannesburg Review of Books, rendering the evaluation process flatter, more consultative and democratic. The combination of the new scoring system and the extremely high standard of the stories meant that for the first time, we’ve produced a short list of nine stories, instead of the usual six.

The shortlist is as follows (in alphabetical order):

1. The Piano Player by Agazit Abate (Ethiopia)
2. Ibinabo by Michael Agugom (Nigeria)
3. The Geography of Sunflowers by Michelle Angwenyi (Kenya)
4. Limbo by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria)
5. Sew My Mouth by Cherrie Kandie (Kenya)
6. South of Samora by Farai Mudzingwa (Zimbabwe)
7. All Our Lives by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor (Nigeria)
8. The House on the Corner by Lester Walbrugh (South Africa)
9. God Skin by Michael Yee (South Africa)

Seen here are a variety of explorations of queer sexuality – an extremely important and necessary creative intervention, given the grim march of homophobia, including in legislative forms, across the African continent. Michael Agugom charts the challenges of negotiating biracial and sexually complex identities in a small and watchful Nigerian island community in “Ibinabo”; and Cherrie Kandie provides a powerful and painful account of the silencing (literally) of lesbian love in urban Nairobi in “Sew My Mouth”. In “The House on the Corner”, Lester Walbrugh provides a moving interpretation of the perhaps ubiquitous “gay life in Cape Town” narrative; Innocent Chizaram Ilo provides a delightfully unusual and fantastical account of heartbreak as experienced by a lesbian scarecrow in “Limbo”.

Michelle Angwenyi’s lyrical and hallucinatory “The Geography of Sunflowers” presents heteronormative love and loss as experiences that both heighten and blur identity.

Identity is also formed through friendships and family bonds, and in Farai Mudzingwa’s delicate and moving “South of Samora”, a young man whose social standing is dependent on where he lives, forms a friendship with an ailing child that forces him to define himself; while Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor’s “All Our Lives” is a wry, clear-eyed, humorous and characteristically compassionate account of the identity (multiple identities, in fact) of a much-maligned community – young and disaffected men who drift into Nigerian cities in pursuit of a “better life”.

“The Piano Player” by Agazit Abate is a brilliant inversion of the “African abroad” narrative as it presents snapshots of life in Addis Abada through the eyes and ears of a pianist in a luxury hotel bar, and “God Skin” by Michael Yee weaves together alienation, forbidden love and intimate violence against a subtle backdrop of the scars of Liberia’s civil war.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors.

The winners will be announced on 21 June 2018, the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. The grand prize winner is set to win $800. A full list of project sponsors is available on our sponsors page.

The resulting anthology from the longlisted prize entries, ID: New Short Fiction From Africa, is edited by Nebila Abdulmelik, Otieno Owino and Helen Moffett as part of the SSDA/Worldreader Editing Mentorship. ID is due for release on 21 June 2018, the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere, in partnership with New Internationalist.

All of SSDA’s previous anthologies have received critical acclaim, with two stories from Feast, Famine & Potluck shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing – with one, “My Father’s Head” by Okwiri Oduor, going on to win the prize. Terra Incognita and Water likewise received wide critical praise, including reviews from the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Sunday Times and the Financial Mail. Stacy Hardy’s story “Involution”, published in Migrations is shortlisted for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing.


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Ons Klyntji is calling for submissions!

Via Ons Klyntji

Deadline: 31 May 2018, midnight CAT

Ons Klyntji, a magazine published and launched every year at the Oppikoppi music festival is looking for submissions “written or visual”.

There is no set theme, but we do appreciate material that concerns the here and now: love & politics, drought & roll, the road & the verge, music & the movement, spirits & genes, the city & the land, origins & myth, cursor & click, if you liked this you might also like & suggested for you. (This means: you write what you left swipe.) Writings about South Africa, Africa, South Africans and Africans will be appreciated.

Send in:

  • Your three best poems
  • Short stories no longer than 2500 words
  • Photographs, graphics, sketches, images, doodles etc that work in black and white, and smallish (Ons Klyntji is printed the size of your back pocket)
  • Book and CD reviews of no longer than 150 words a shot (focus on South African and African material, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or non-poetry)
  • Interviews with a creative of your choice (max 2000 words)
  • A short thesis on why South Africans consider the orange traffic light to be an invitation to speed the hell up (max 100 words)

 
You can submit in any language to either info@toastcoetzer.com or sendusyourpoems@gmail.com


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