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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Call for submissions: 2017/8 Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology

The Jacana Literary Foundation recently released their press release calling for submissions for the 2017/8 Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology:

The Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF) and the Other Foundation are pleased to announce that submissions for the second annual Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology for 2017/8 are now open.

Created in honour of the late activist Gerald Kraak’s extraordinary legacy of supporting human rights, this award advances his contribution to building a world that is safe and welcoming to all. The unique award calls for multi-layered, brave and stirring African voices that represent a new wave of fresh storytelling, one that provokes thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality.

Submissions will be accepted until 24 July 2017, and will be open to the following genres:

Fiction
Non-fiction
Poetry
Photography
Journalism / magazine reporting
Scholarly articles in academic journals and book chapters / extracts
Social media / blog writings and contributions

Only the very best work submitted will be short-listed and published in the anthology, with the winners announced in 2018 at an awards ceremony hosted by the Other Foundation. A cash prize of R25 000 will be awarded to the author of the winning piece. The JLF will partner with publishers throughout the African continent in order to disseminate the work as widely as possible.

Gerald Kraak (1956–2014) was a passionate champion of social justice, an anti-apartheid activist and the head of the Atlantic Philanthropies’ Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme in South Africa. He authored two books, including the European Union Literary Award-winning Ice in the Lungs (Jacana, 2005), which explores South African politics, and directed a documentary on gay conscripts in the apartheid army. He will be remembered for being kind and generous, delightfully irreverent and deeply committed to realising an equal and just society for all. His unfinished novel, Shadow Play, posthumously completed by Alison Lowry, was published by Jacana Media in May 2017.

Read more here.

Pride and Prejudice

Book details

  • Pride and Prejudice: The Gerald Kraak Anthology African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality
    EAN: 9781431425181
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 

Ice in the Lungs

 
 
 
 

Shadow Play


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UJ Prize for South African Writing shortlist announced

The University of Johannesburg has announced the shortlist of its annual literary award. Approximately 60 works were submitted, from which the following books were selected for the shortlist:

Main Prize:
Pleasure by Nthikeng Mohlele
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Sigh, the Beloved Country by Bongani Madondo

Debut Prize:
The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
Loud and Yellow Laughter by Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese
Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and Other Stories by Jolyn Philips
The Keeper of the Kumm by Sylvia Vollenhoven

The prizes are not linked to a specific genre. This may make the evaluation more challenging in the sense that, for example, a volume of poetry, a novel and a biographical work must be measured against one another, but the idea is to open the prize to as many forms of creative writing as possible.

The main prize is R75 000.

The debut prize is R35 000.

A formal prize-giving ceremony will be held at a function later in the year.

Pleasure

Book details

 
 
The Woman Next Door

 
 
 

Sigh The Beloved Country

 
 
 

The Yearning

 
 
 

Loud and Yellow Laughter

 
 
 

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories

 
 
 

Keeper of the Kumm


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First round of international authors for Open Book Festival 2017 announced

The authors have been announced for the seventh Open Book Festival and you can have the chance to play a part in it.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival will be presented from 6 to 10 September, once again offering a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances and more. The event, which also includes the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica, children’s and outreach programmes, takes place at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative and leading book festivals. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s 125 events featuring 251 authors and it has been shortlisted twice for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. It is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill an interest in and love of reading among young attendees, while the programme is designed to engage, entertain and inspire conversations among festival goers long after the event.

“In addition to announcing the first round of incredible international authors for Open Book Festival 2017, we are inviting people to help be a part of it and launching a Thundafund campaign for this year’s festival,” says festival director Mervyn Sloman.

“Anyone who works on major events will have an understanding of the budgetary challenges and current financial climate that are part and parcel of the sector. Open Book is no different and while we continue to work with key sponsors, we are inviting people who recognise the value of the festival to get involved and support us, so we can retain our independence and continue to put on an event of the scale and calibre visitors have come to expect. You can support the campaign for as little as R100 and every rand makes a difference.”

To contribute visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

“We are excited to be announcing our first round of international authors and have again compiled a useful guide of their books so you can start reading now.”

Author: Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria)
Books include: Stay With Me
Why we’re excited: Ayọ̀bámi was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. In 2015, she was listed by the Financial Times as one of the bright stars of Nigerian literature. She has been a writer in residence at numerous institutions and she was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship in 2014 and 2015.
 
 
Author: Paul Beatty (USA)
Books include: Slumberland, Tuff, The White Boy Shuffle and The Sellout. Also poetry book Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. Editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor
Why we’re excited: The current Man Booker Winner for The Sellout.
 
 
 

Author: Maylis de Kerangal (France. Attending thanks to the support of IFAS)
Books include: Mend the Living, Birth of a Bridge; the novella Tangente vers l’est
Why we’re excited: Mend the Living was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and won the Wellcome Book Prize 2017.
 
 
Author: Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
Books include: The Book of Memory and short story collections An Elegy for Easterly and Rotten Row
Why we’re excited: An Elegy for Easterly won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009.
 
 
 
Author: Nathan Hill (USA)
Books include: The Nix
Why we’re excited: Hill’s debut novel The Nix was named one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Slate and Amazon, among others. It was also the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction and will be published worldwide in 30 languages.
 
 
Author: Elina Hirvonen (Finland. Attending thanks to the support of the Embassy of Finland)
Books include: When I Forgot, Farthest from Death, When Time Runs Out
Why we’re excited: This acclaimed author, journalist and documentary filmmaker has had her work translated into seven languages. When Time Runs Out was chosen as ‘The Most Important Book of the Year 2015’ in a project by the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
 
Author: Scaachi Koul (Canada. Attending thanks to the support of Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: Her debut collection of essays in One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
Why we’re excited: A culture writer for BuzzFeed, Scaachi’s writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Hairpin, The Globe and Mail, and Jezebel.
 
 
Author: Ali Land (UK)
Books include: Good Me Bad Me
Why we’re excited: Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages. After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia.
 
 
Author: Ken Liu (USA)
Books include: The Grace of Kings, The Wall of Storms, The Paper Menagerie
Why we’re excited: Liu’s short stories have won a Nebula, two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award. His short story, “The Paper Menagerie”, was the first work of fiction to win all three major science fiction awards, the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.
 
 
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (DRC. Attending thanks to the support of the Goethe Institut)
Books include: Tram 83
Why we’re excited: His writing has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Prix du Monde and he was longlisted for MB International
 
 
 

Author: Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
Books include: The Spider King’s Daughter, Welcome to Lagos
Why we’re excited: The Spider King’s Daughter was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
 
 
 

Author: Malin Persson Giolito (Sweden. Attending thanks to the support of The Embassy of Sweden)
Books include: Quicksand, the first of her novels to be translated into English
Why we’re excited: A former lawyer, her novel Quicksand was awarded the Best Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016, Sweden’s official suspense literature award, which is given by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy.
 
 
Author: Carl Frode Tiller (Norway. Attending thanks to support from NORLA)
Books include: The Encircling trilogy, Skråninga (The Slope)
Why we’re excited: His awards include the European Union Prize for Literature and Nordic Critics Prize. His Encircling trilogy has been twice nominated for the Nordic Council’s Prize. The trilogy is considered one of the great contemporary portraits of Nordic life. It has been adapted for the theatre and published in eighteen languages.
 
Author: Iman Verjee
Books include: Who will Catch us as we Fall, In Between Dreams
Why we’re excited: Winner of the 2012 Peters Fraser & Dunlop/City University Prize for Fiction for her debut novel In Between Dreams.
 
 
 
 
Author: Alex Wheatle (UK)
Books include: Crongton Knights, Liccle Bit, Brixton Rock, East of Acre Lane, The Seven Sisters, Island Songs, Checkers, The Dirty South
Why we’re excited: Known as ‘the Brixton Bard’ Alex was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to literature in 2008. He is UK’s most read Black British author, with his books on school reading lists, he takes part in Black History Month every year, works with Booktrust and the Children’s Discovery Centre to promote reading and represents English PEN. Crongton Knights won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016.
 
Author: Zoe Whittall (Canada. Attending thanks to support from Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: The Best Kind of People, Holding Still for as Long as Possible
Why we’re excited: This award-winning Canadian author won a Lambda Literary award, was shortlisted for the Relit award, and was an American Library Association’s Stonewall Honor Book for Holding Still for as Long as Possible. She has also published three books of poetry.

The final programme will be available in early August, at which point bookings can be made at www.webtickets.co.za.

The seventh Open Book Festival will take place from 6 to 10 September at The Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, and The Book Lounge, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information visit www.openbookfestival.co.za.

For more information about and to support the Thundafund campaign, visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

The Open Book Festival is made possible thanks to the support of its sponsors and partners: Leopard’s Leap, The Fugard Theatre, The District Six Museum, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA and the Goethe-Institut.

Stay With Me

Book details

 
 
 
Slumberland

 
 
 
 
Mend the Living

 
 
 

When I Forgot

 
 
 

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

 
 
 

Good Me, Bad Me

 
 
 

The Grace of Kings

 
 
 

Tram 83

 
 
 

The Spider King\'s Daughter

 
 
 

Quicksand

 
 
 

Encircling

 
 
 

Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

 
 
 

Crongton Knights

 
 
 

The Best Kind of People

 
 
 

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
EAN: 9780571249916
Find this book with BOOK Finder!


» read article

Exclusive Books Homebru 2017 selection announced

Exclusive Books has announced their selection of fiction, non-fiction, cookery and children’s books for their annual Homebru campaign.

This year’s slogan was ‘books by us, written for you’. According to Ben Williams, general manager of Exclusive Books, the nearly fifty titles on the list “represent a highly engaging slice of current South African writing and life.”

With titles as diverse as Fred Strydom’s work of speculative fiction, The Inside-Out Man, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s political analysis, The Republic of Gupta, and the colourful array of cookery and children’s books, including Khanyisa Malabi’s Legacy of Living and Sparkles of Taste and Carol-Ann Davids’ The Hair Fair, this year’s list certainly is representative of contemporary South African writing.

The titles which appear on the list are:

NON-FICTION

Confluence


Confluence: Beyond the River with Siseko Ntondini

by Piers Cruickshanks
 
 
 
 
 
Bending the RulesBending the Rules: Memoir of a Pioneering Diplomat
by Rafique Gangat
 
 
 
 
 
 
Making Africa WorkMaking Africa Work: A handbook for economic success
by Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst, Olusegun Obasanjo & Dickie Davis
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Republic of GuptaThe Republic of Gupta: A Story of State Capture
by Pieter-Louis Myburgh
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dreams, Betrayal and Hope Dreams, Betrayal and Hope
by Mamphela Ramphele
 
 
 
 
 
 
Apartheid Guns and MoneyApartheid, Guns and Money: A tale of profit
by Hennie Van Vuuren
 
 
 
 
 
 
Traces and Tracks: A Thirty-Year Journey with the SanTraces and Tracks: A thirty year journey with the San
by Paul Weinberg
 
 
 
 
 
 
FICTION

Selling Lip ServiceSelling Lip Service
by Tammy Baikie
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hlomu The Wife
Zandile The Resolute
Naledi His Love

by Dudu Busani-Dube
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dancing the Death DrillDancing the Death Drill
by Fred Khumalo
 
 
 
 
 
 
Emperor Shaka the GreatEmperor Shaka The Great (English Edition)
Unodumehlezi Kamenzi (isiZulu Edition)
by Masizi Kunene
 
 
 
 
 
 
Being KariBeing Kari
by Qarnita Loxton
 
 
 
 
 
 
Recognition
Recognition: An Anthology of South African Short Stories

edited by David Medalie
 
 
 
 
 
 
Web
Web

by Naomi Meyer
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Last StopThe Last Stop
by Thabiso Mofokeng
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Third Reel
The Third Reel

Die Derde Spoel
by S J Naudé
 
 
 
 
 
 
If I Stay Right Here
If I Stay Right Here
by Chwayita Ngamlana
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ayixoxeki NakuxoxekaAyixoxeki Nakuxoxeka
by Mbongeni Cyprian Nzimande
 
 
 
 
 
 
Akulahlwa Mbeleko NgakufelwaAkulahlwa Mbeleko Ngakufelwa
by Zukiswa Pakama
 
 
 
 
 
 
Delilah Now TrendingDelilah Now Trending
by Pamela Power
 
 
 
 
 
 
Die BergengelDie Bergengel
by Carina Stander
 
 
 
 
 
 
As in die Mond
As in die mond

by Nicole Jaekel Strauss
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Inside-Out Man
The Inside-Out Man

by Fred Strydom
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alles het niet kom wod

Alles het niet kom wôd

by Nathan Trantraal
 
 
 
 
 
 
BIOGRAPHIES

Last Night at the BasslineLast Night at the Bassline
by David Coplan and Oscar Gutierrez
 
 
 
 
 
 
Equal, but Different
Equal But Different
by Judy Dlamini
 
 
 
 
 
 
No Longer Whispering to Power
No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela
by Thandeka Gqubule
 
 
 
 
 
 
Being Chris Hani's Daughter Being Chris Hani’s Daughter
by Lindiwe Hani
 
 
 
 
 
 
God praat Afrikaans
God praat Afrikaans

by HemelBesem
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lied vir SarahSong for Sarah: Lessons from my Mother
Lied vir Sarah: Lesse van My Moeder

by Jonathan Jansen
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fatima MeerFatima Meer: Memories of Love & Struggle
by Fatima Meer
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Man Who Founded the ANCThe Man Who Founded The ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme
by Bongani Ngqulunga
 
 
 
 
 
 
Billionaires Under Construction

Billionaires Under Construction

by DJ Sbu
 
 
 
 
 
 
CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS
 

The Elders at the DoorThe Elders at the Door (Afrikaans, English, isiZhosa, isiZulu)
by Maryanne Bester, illustrated by Shayla Bester
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Hair FairThe Hair Fair
by Carol-Ann Davids
 
 
 
 
 
 
#LoveReading
#LoveReading: short stories, poems, blogs and more
compiled by Rosamund Haden & Dorothy Dyer
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beyond the River
Beyond the River

by Mohale Mashigo
 
 
 
 
 
 
How Many Ways Can You Say Hello? How Many Ways Can You Say Hello
by Refiloe Moahloli, illustrated by Anja Stoeckigt
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dromers
Dromers

by Fanie Viljoen
 
 
 
 
 
 

COOKERY

 

HomegrownHomegrown
by Bertus Basson
 
 
 
 
 
 
Legacy of Living and Sparkles of TasteLegacy of Living & Sparkles of Taste
by Khanyisa Malabi
 
 
 
 
 
 
Johanne 14
Johanne 14: Real South African Food

by Hope Malau
 
 
 
 
 

Book details

  • Making Africa Work: A Handbook for Economic Success by Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst, Olusegun Obasanjo, Dickie Davis
    EAN: 9780624080275
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

Two Sunshine Noir authors longlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Short Story Dagger Award 2017

Leye Adenle and Ovidia Yu have been longlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Short Story Dagger Award for the best short story of 2017.

Adenle’s “The Assassination” and Yu’s “Snake Skin” were both published in the short story collection, Sunshine Noir, edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley.

Sunshine Noir contains 17 short stories and the theme is that “they are all set in dry, hot places and bright sun – where the shadows are the darkest,” says Michael Sears, one half of the Michael Stanley-duo.

The CWA Crime Dagger Award honours any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK.

About Sunshine Noir:

In these stories, seventeen writers from around the globe tell of dark doings in sunny places.

Join them in the Dominican Republic, the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, chic Mykonos, Seville at midnight, and on the morning beachfront of Ghana where a man has revenge on his mind. Follow an NGO worker kidnapped in Yemen, an engineer repairing a dam in turmoil-torn Ethopia, a foolish young Englishman hitchhiking across the Sahara. You will visit historic instabul and Mombasa and learn the secrets of family conflicts in Singapore, in Puerto Rico, in New Orleans.

The authors of these tales will convince you that evil under the sun makes for the most compelling, most entertaining crime fiction anywhere on earth.

Click here for more on the CWA Short Story Dagger Award.

Sunshine Noir

Book details


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2017 Caine Prize Shortlist announced

The five-writer shortlist for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced by Chair of judges, award winning author, poet and editor, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. The list includes a former Caine Prize shortistee and features a story translated form Arabic for the second time in the 18 year history of the Prize.

Nii Parkes said the shortlist ‘reveals the depth and strength of short story writing from Africa and its diaspora.’

‘This year’s submissions were a pleasure to read; we were all impressed by the quality and imaginative ambition of the work received. Indeed, there were a dozen stories that did not make the shortlist that would win other competitions.’

He continued, ‘there seemed to be a theme of transition in many of the stories. Whether it’s an ancient myth brought to life in a contemporary setting, a cyber attack-triggered wave of migration and colonisation, an insatiable quest for motherhood, an entertaining surreal ride that hints at unspeakable trauma, or the loss of a parent in the midst of a personal identity crisis, these writers juxtapose future, past and present to ask important questions about the world we live in.’

‘Although they range in tone from the satirical to the surreal, all five stories on this year’s shortlist are unrelentingly haunting. It has been a wonderful journey so far and we look forward to selecting a winner. It will be a hard job, but I’ve always believed that you can’t go wrong with a Ghanaian at the helm of an international panel.’

The 2017 shortlist comprises:

Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ published in The New Yorker (USA. 2015)
Read ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’

Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, USA. 2015)
Read ‘Bush Baby’

Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan) for ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press, UK. 2016)
Read ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’

Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
Read ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’

Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’ published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)
Read ‘The Virus’

The full panel of judges joining Nii Ayikwei Parkes includes the 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko; accomplished author and Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; and distinguished African literary scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac, University of Southampton.

The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at Senate House Library, London, in partnership with SOAS, on Monday 3 July. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.

Each of these stories will be published in New Internationalist’s 2017 Caine Prize anthology The Goddess of Mwtara and Other Stories in June and through co-publishers in 16 African countries, who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.


» read article

Balancing the book shelves: Anneke Rautenbach interviews women who are creating more diverse stories for children

Anneke Rautenbach writes for the Sunday Times

Good Night Stories for RebelsGood Night Stories for Rebels
Various (Penguin Random House)

“Daughters can also be heroic.” If there is a maxim that Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo – co-founders of the children’s media company, Timbuktu Labs – live by, it’s this line by the 18th-century Chinese poet and astronomer, Wang Zhenyi. They would stake their career on it.

Wang is one of 100 women – including Ada Lovelace, Frida Kahlo, Helen Keller and Miriam Makeba – whose sumptuously illustrated biographies make up Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a children’s book created by Favilli and Cavallo and published by Penguin Random House in April. It chimes with a moment when parents and children across the world are demanding more diverse and positive representation – of gender, race, and sexual orientation – in children’s literature. Nothing speaks to this more than the project’s success on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo: having raised more than $1-million, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has become the most highly funded original book in crowd-funding history.

The 30-something Italian duo say Donald Trump’s election in November gave their project a greater sense of urgency. About a month before, The Washington Post revealed the video in which the future president brags that his celebrity status allows him to do “whatever he wants” to women – even “grab them by the p**sy”.

“So many people have thanked us,” says Favilli. “The book represents not only a collection of bedtime stories, but a set of values that are now in danger.”

In a recent article for The Guardian, Favilli and Cavallo quoted the kinds of statistics that have galvanised them since starting Timbuktu Labs: by the time girls are six, they already perceive themselves as intellectually inferior to boys, according to the journal Science; and a survey by the University of Florida of children’s books published between 1900 and 2000 revealed that 25% of them had no female characters at all and 37% had none who spoke.

“Children’s media lacks diversity not only in terms of gender,” says Cavallo. “We looked for women from countries that are not usually represented, and we wanted to feature as many fields as possible.”

One of the first stories in the book belongs to Amna Al Haddad, a weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates. The book also features the story of Coy Mathis, a transgender girl who, in 2013 at age six, won a landmark case when a Colorado judge ruled in favour of her choice to use the bathroom she prefers.

A little closer to home, Buhle Ngaba, 26, a stage actress from North West, wrote The Girl Without A Sound specifically for black girls – “the ones with moonlight in her skin”. Originally intending to create a gift for her aunt who read her stories and nursery rhymes as a child, she found that she had written the fairy tale that was missing from her childhood – “about a little girl who looks like me.” Ngaba’s character isn’t waiting for a prince to save her.

“She simply goes out in search of a sound of her own.”

Ngaba, who is also the founder of KaMatla, a non-profit arts organisation that develops storytelling among underprivileged youth, describes her publishing model as the reverse of crowd-funding. “I didn’t have a lot of money, but just got the book out there.”

A team of talented friends helped to edit, promote and illustrate the story using a combination of drawing and photography. In February last year, a free PDF was made available online in English and Tswana. Within the first week, 3000 copies had been downloaded.

“I liked that you could print it yourself,” says Ngaba. “Because that means any little girl can do it.”

They have since received support from the Centre for Early Childhood Development. A month after the online launch, printed copies were made available, and more South African language translations are in the pipeline.

The response has been extraordinary, adds Ngaba, especially from black women. “We didn’t even know we were missing ourselves.”

Ngaba sees her book as part of movement towards fairer representation in local fiction, always tagging her social media posts #booksforblackgirls. But by no means does this mean that children of other races can’t enjoy it too, she says. “It’s a self-love thing. It’s simply about balancing the bookshelves.”

Similarly, Rebel Girls is not about excluding boys. “Girls are used to being the guests in other books,” says Cavallo. “We identify with Sherlock Holmes, with Inspector Gadget, Pinocchio, Superman. People often ask us when we are going to make a book for rebel boys – this is the book for rebel boys.”

Crowdfunded books that are making waves

•The Princess Who Saved Herself by Greg Pak, about a rock ‘n’ roll princess and her pet snake. It “reinvents the princess myth for a new generation of proactive girls”. With a $15000 goal, it has raised $111759.

•Wollstonecraft by Airship Ambassador. A “Snicketesque” fictional adventure for 8- to 12-year-olds, featuring Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author. With a $4000 goal, it has raised $91751.

•Flamingo Rampant by S Bear Bergman. A racially and body-diverse series about LGBT2Q families and their children, in which girls and women are “problem-solvers and action-takers”. The latest in the series has raised $70305 with a $63000 goal.

Q&A with Ambre Nicolson, author of the crowdfunded An A to Z of AmaZing South African Women – forthcoming from Modjaji Books

Was this book inspired by Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls?
It was actually inspired by the American book Rad American Women A-Z. I saw the book two years ago and immediately wished there was a local version. When I realised there wasn’t, and on a dare from a friend, I decided to make one – with permission from the American publisher, City Lights, and support from the local female-centred publisher, Modjaji Books. Our book does share one thing with Rebel Girls, and that is that the makers of both books wanted to create the book we wished we had when we were young.

Why now?
At a time when the idea that women’s rights are human rights seems so imperiled, it feels like any project that recognises women as multi-faceted, powerful protagonists is urgently needed. Particularly in South Africa, with its troubled history and terrible record of gender inequality and gender-based violence, I think too often women are presented as one of several stereotypes: the tragic heroine, the angry humourless banshee, the sexpot. I think it’s important to provide stories that show South African women in all their complexity – this is what we hope to do with our book.

How did you choose the women for each letter?
Choosing only one woman for each letter of the alphabet was an almost impossible task. For every one woman featured, we debated dozens of others. Trying to showcase a breadth of human endeavour as well as ensure that the demographics of the women featured reflect the reality of South Africa made the selection process all the more complex. But what a wonderful problem to have! Beyond trying to showcase the diversity of amazing South African women, we also wanted to make sure we didn’t just choose the usual suspects. The question we asked ourselves was always, “Is she a badass?” As a result I like to think we featured a healthy amount of rebels, troublemakers and rabble-rousers. These are women refuse to sit down and keep quiet. Not one of them “knows their place” I’m very happy to say.

What else unites these women?
I have been humbled by so many stories of resourcefulness and resilience and compassion. Looking at these stories as a whole certain themes also emerged: The women in our book are all united by experiencing adversity, in fact often this was essential to their development, as well as having a certain bloody-minded persistence.

What do you think of the potential of crowd-funding as a publishing model?
When it comes to books, I think crowd-funding is an exciting way to create interest around a project, while at the same time allowing people to pre-order copies. Arthur Attwell, [co-founder of Book Dash, a grassroots children’s publishing initiative] recently put it well: “Crowd-funded publishing is no longer an unusual way to fund important books. This is the way it’s going to happen, and it turns every one of us into talent-spotting publishing investors.”

Is this book by women for women? Or is it for everyone?
This book is about our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our friends. So I do think it is for everyone. I think it should be a book that you buy for the amazing woman or women in your life. But if I could choose just one person to give this book to it would be that 13 or 14-year-old girl who is just starting to figure out who she is in the world. I would like her to know that the South African women who went before her are truly amazing.

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Book Bites: 7 May 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

Traveling with GhostsTraveling With Ghosts
Shannon Leone Fowler (Orion)
Book real
***
In 2002, Shannon and Sean are backpacking through Thailand when Sean is stung by a box jellyfish. In a matter of minutes, Shannon’s fiancé is dead. Days later, Shannon miscarries their child. Finding herself unable to cope with the normal day to day, Shannon uses her savings to travel through Eastern Europe. Traveling with Ghosts is a journey of grief, that is interwoven with memories of her life with Sean. She lays out the rocky journey of loss: from the well-meaning but hurtful platitudes, to what actually helps a person as they grapple with tragedy. A powerful read, especially for people who struggle to live with death. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

CaravalCaraval
Stephanie Garber (Hodder & Stoughton)
Book fling
***
Think of the Carnival of Venice – the equivalent of the Mardi Gras of the hot southern climes but more mysterious, dignified and exclusive. Caraval shares the magic and mystery, not to mention the canals, of this pre-Lenten festival. Scarlett and her younger sister Tella, live under the cruel and tyrannical thumb of their father: Scarlett is eager to marry an unknown suitor who will take her and Tella away from their sadistic father, but when she receives an invitation to attend the magic circus run by Master Legend Santos, she cannot resist. Scarlett, Tella and a “golden brown” sailor, Julian, reach the magical island and take part in the game of caraval. Rich, luscious, intriguing, Caraval is an exciting read. – Aubrey Paton

SlippingSlipping: Stories, Essays and Other Writing
Lauren Beukes (Tachyon Publications)
Book fiend
****
Lauren Beukes can be so cool and cutting it leaves you cold. Her uber-trendy style is signature, but Slipping shines when she eschews the snark for intimacy and heart. This collection showcases the range of her talent across 11 years of speculative and experimental fiction, intense relationship dramas and journalistic essays (in which you can see much of the inspiration for her stories). Beukes excels at writing body horror and unhappy endings. She shows readers the brutality in the way bodies are modified for the pleasure and profit of others (contrasted with power in revelling in your own body) and articulates what social media and reality TV are doing to us. Occasionally alien life appears, terrifying and incomprehensible, yet humans are always far worse in comparison. It’s funny and entertaining too, but perhaps best read when you want something to creep under your skin and connect. – Lauren Smith @violin_ina_void

The Fire ChildThe Fire Child
SK Tremayne (HarperCollins)
Book thrill
***
Chilling. Terrifying. It plays out like a movie in your head, one you can’t stop watching. Rachel is married to the charming, successful, and rich David. She moves into his old family house in an isolated part of Cornwall. But when her stepson Jamie starts to claim that he is haunted by his dead mother, Rachel begins digging. David refuses to talk about what is happening to Jamie or about his ex-wife, and Rachel becomes very suspicious. An eerie thriller with a satisfying end. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

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Presidential karma: Rosa Lyster reviews George Saunders’s debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo

Things get strange when we die, but George Saunders is a very good guide, writes Rosa Lyster for the Sunday Times

Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders (Bloomsbury)
****

Everyone who loves George Saunders felt the same thing when they heard he was publishing a novel: please let this be good. It will not be as good as Tenth of December, because nothing is as good as Tenth of December, but please let this be good.

He inspires this kind of goodwill in people because he is so good and generous himself. It isn’t just that he is brilliant; it’s that he is kind. Saunders’s gift is his ability to imagine himself into the minds of others. He is constantly asking his readers to think about the lives of people they wouldn’t normally think about. He can make the inner life of an obscure teenage nerd seem not only riveting but morally important. A lot of the stories in Tenth of December take as their subject the lives of apparently ordinary people, but Lincoln in the Bardo, his first novel, focuses on someone so well-known you wouldn’t think there’d be anything left to say.

It’s Saunders, though, so of course he has found something new.

These are the facts: Abraham Lincoln and his wife had four boys, Robert, Eddie, Willie and Tad. The only one who lived past the age of 18 was Robert, the eldest. The Lincolns were deeply affected by the deaths of all their children, but Willie’s death in 1862 (a year into the Civil War) seems to have been the one that broke his father’s heart. Historical accounts depict Willie as an especially loved and lovable child, very close to his father, whom he resembled in many respects. He died at age 11 of typhoid fever, and was interred in a Georgetown cemetery. The first night after the funeral, his father came to visit the grave twice.

I can think of a lot of novelists who would take this information and make a good book out of it. I can’t think of anyone who would do what Saunders did. In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a bardo is an intermediate state of existence between death and rebirth, a transitional phase of consciousness. During the bardo of the time of death, souls either ascend toward nirvana or descend gradually and violently into a new body, doomed to start all over again. Saunders, a practising Buddhist, has incorporated aspects of that belief system and fused it with American history.

Lincoln in the Bardo takes place over one night in the cemetery where Willie Lincoln lies. The story is told, mostly, from the perspective of the spirits in the cemetery with him, souls who are trapped in the bardo for one reason or another. Some of them can’t leave, but most of them don’t want to. Moving on means accepting the fact of their deaths, and they can’t do that. They don’t call it a coffin, they call it a sick-box. They don’t call it dead, they call it being less well.

The forms that the spirits take on are informed by their personalities and preoccupations while living, which means that parts of the story are told by things with 1000 eyes, women enclosed by orbs, people without hands or feet. Willie, being a child, has no reason to linger in such a strange and scary place, but he is held back by his father’s love and devastation at his passing. Everyone knows he shouldn’t be there, but he is.

The above makes the book sound stranger and more difficult than it is. It is a strange book, no getting around it, but it’s also lovely and beautiful and so, so sad.

Saunders is never weird simply for the sake of being weird. He is experimental, but never for show. A clever writer who doesn’t care about seeming clever is a rare thing. Saunders is trying, always, to imagine what it’s like to be someone else, and he uses every creative tool at his disposal to do that. His inventiveness is linked to his humanity — he is weird because he is trying to make us see something we haven’t seen before.

Follow Rosa Lyster @rosalyster

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Tenth of December


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Attend a Short Story Day Africa Flow Workshop

Short Story Day Africa in partnership with the Goethe-Institut invite submissions to attend a series of one day workshops in the following cities:

Johannesburg, South Africa | 27 May 2017

Cape Town, South Africa | 27 May 2017

Nairobi, Kenya | 3 June 2017

Windhoek, Namibia | 3 June 2017

Yaoundé, Cameroon | 3 June 2017

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | 3 June 2017

Kigali, Rwanda | 10 June 2017 | By Invitation Only.

Writers working on entries for the prestigious 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize, or wanting to begin drafting an entry for the prize, are invited to submit an application.

Click here for more.


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