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Right! That's a wrap of our #ManBooker2014 coverage. Congratulations to Richard Flanagan

Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Antjie Krog, Mmatshilo Motsei and Thuli Zuma Honoured with 2014 Mbokodo Awards

SynapseAlert! Antjie Krog has been awarded the 2014 Mbokodo Award for the Promotion of Language and Storytelling, with Mmatshilo Motsei taking home the award for Creative Writing. The poetry prize was awarded to Nokuthula (Thuli) Zuma. The ceremony took place at The Theatre on the Track, Kyalami on Friday.

The Mbokodo Awards are aimed at recognising southern African women in arts, and celebrating the invaluable contribution made by them in ensuring that South Africa operates as a cohesive society.

Antjie Krog’s numerous award-winning collections of Afrikaans poems are widely translated. She has also reworked poems from the /Xam into Afrikaans and English. Her latest anthology, Synapse was published by NB Publishers this month.

Mmatshilo Motsei is an author much interested in integrating ancient teachings in modern innovations, and the recipient of national and international awards. She has published several works and received national and international awards including the International Human Rights Award and the United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honour.

Watch Motsei’s TEDxStellenbosch talk titled “To remember Africa’s true greatness”:

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Thuli Zuma is a performance poet. She curated the poetry session at the South African Women’s Art Festival at the Playhouse in Durban. As a poet and actor, she endeavours to make an art of her living and a living of her art. Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, Thuli has shared her work on national and international stages. She represented Urbana New York at the 2013 Woman of the World Poetry Slam and the 2012 Individual World Poetry Slam, where she took second place.

Watch Zuma perform her poem “My Inheritance – A Love Poem”:

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Press release

Mafikizolo’s Nhlanhla Nciza has been honoured with a prestigious award for her work in the music industry.

Nciza was the winner of the 2014, Mbokodo awards in the music category, of the Mbokodo Awards. The category honours musicians who show deep commitment to Africa and its traditions. She was one of the 19 winners at awards that were held on Friday at the Kyalami Theatre in Midrand, North of Johannesburg.
The awards, which are a collaborative effort between the Department of Arts and Culture and Carol Bouwer Productions, are held every year in honour of women who have made outstanding contribution in the arts industry.

Other winners included well known South African actress Florence Masebe. Masebe was the winner in the Women in Film category. She was honored for her contribution to the production and development of films in the country. Masebe has acted in many South African TV productions but in the past few years has been more involved in work done behind the camera. She was the lead actress and executive producer of the first Tshivenda film, Elelwani.

Opera’s Sbongile Mngoma won an award for the work she has done in that field. Mngoma released her second album, which she also produced last year. She has also performed on many national and international stages including performances at the Tel Aviv Opera House.

Poet and writer Antjie Krog was the winner of the promotion of Language and Storytelling award. The award honours efforts to promote and develop languages in artistic ways, giving exposure to under used languages. Her book, Country of my skull was dramatised for the big screen with Samuel L Jackson as one of the leading actors.

One of the biggest awards of the night, The Mariam Makeba Award, went to the Mahotella Queens. The group has been captivating nationally and international audiences with their music since 1964. Like Makeba the Mahotella Queens have through their art, advanced the plight of African people across the world, particularly during apartheid.

Winners per category:

Women in Indigenous Art – Lobolile Ximba
Promotion 01 Language and Story Telling – Antie Krog
Creative Writing – Mmatshilo Matsei
Poetry – Nokuthula Zuma
Creative Photography – Marlene Neumann
Painting – Tracey Rose
Sculpture – Jane Alexander
Architecture – Trudi Groenewald and Debbie Peller
Creative Design – Lisebo Mokhesi
Fashion Design and Innovation – Palesa Mokubung
Dance – Burnise Silvius
Opera – Sibongile Mngoma
Theatre – Marlene le Roux
Comedy – Celeste Ntuli
Women in Film – Florence Masebe
Women in Jazz – Lindiwe Maxolo
Music – Nhlanhla Nciza
Promotion of Arts in the Media – Vanessa Perumal
Arts Ambassador – Miriam Tladi
Miriam Makeba Achievement Award – Mahotella Queens


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2014 BoekBedonnerd Literary Festival Programme

Dance with SuitcaseShades of DarknessFalse RiverWoorde roes in die waterThe Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer WarDoing Life with Mandela

The 2014 Richmond BookBedonnerd Literary Festival kicked off yesterday, and runs until Saturday, 25 October.

This year’s festival will be graced by renowned Elvis Presley artist James Marais, as well as Dawn Garisch, Jonty Driver, Dominique Botha, Clinton V du Plessis, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Cristo Brand.

Check out the programme for this year’s festival:

2014 BookBedonnerd Literary Festival Programme

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Fiction Friday: Excerpt from Steve Biko – The Graphic Novel

nullA comic book featuring Steve Biko, who died 37 years ago in September, has been published as part of the Africa Illustrated series.

The book, which is aimed at children, is the result of a combined effort by the Steve Biko Foundation and comic production company Umlando Wezithombe, who have already produced works on Xhosa prophet Nongqawuse, World War II veteran Job Maseko and the Curse of Mapungubwe.

Steve Biko tells the story of the black consciousness activist’s life, from his birth and first incarceration, to his death in 1977.

View excerpts from the graphic novel below.

Nic Buchanan, creative director at Umlando Wezithombe, told Books LIVE a little about the Biko project.

How did the idea for the Steve Biko graphic novel come about?

The response from most children, when asked about studying history, is a long face and an indication of the overwhelming text books. We wanted to take Steve Biko’s story and put it into an engaging format, one that could reach children of a young age, and so the storytelling and picture combination was perfect.

Can you tell us about the process of translating the life and philosophy of Steve Biko into this form?

To make any comic book is a huge labour of love. We start with researching all material available, then it goes to scriptwriting, storyboarding (where we lay out the balance of visuals and script), illustration, inking (fine line tracing over the illustrations), colouring (on computer, adding all the visual effects), lettering, print preparation and finally printing. There are numerous skills required along the way, and so it’s not just about drawing nice pictures.

How do you think this story will be beneficial to preteen and teenage readers?

The feedback has been amazing. The young readers always want to know why all their study material can’t be in this format. What is probably the most interesting feedback is that it sparks an interest for them to learn more about Steve Biko, so the comic has given a platform for them to investigate deeper.

Why is it important for young people to understand Steve Biko’s legacy?

He contributed so much to this country from such a young age, and young people can learn from him, and grow using his learnings.

If readers take only one thing away from this book, what would you like it to be?

That they have a proud history with role models to light the way.

* * * * *

Excerpt from Steve Biko (Africa Illustrated Book 8) by Books LIVE

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Malcolm Forbes Reviews Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara

Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the SaharaVerdict: carrot

Africa39 opens with its star turn but in no way does it peak too soon. The Pink Oysters by Shafinaaz Hassim is a thrilling but sordid corpse-and-diamonds caper featuring Afghan émigrés and Somali traders running wild in Johannesburg’s Muslim quarter. Ukamaka Olisakwe’s This Is How I Remember it is a clear-eyed account of a girl’s romantic awakening in Nigeria, which traverses adolescent peer pressure, cruelty and confusion before culminating in deep longing and the deceptive promise of reciprocated love.

Book Details

  • Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara by Various Authors
    EAN: 9781408854679
    Find this book on Kobo!

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Martie Retief-Meiring resenseer Binnekring van spookasems: Stories oor die lewe deur Herman Lategan

Binnekring van spookasems: Stories oor die leweUitspraak: wortel

Lees jy Herman Lategan, dan dink jy: katlagter, lieweheersbesie. Dis nie sy woorde nie, dis net die aansteeklikheid van sy woordgebruik dat jy, die leser, skoon op hol raak en jou eie ou gunstelinge oproep. So flankeer Lategan met woorde. Dis nie ’n kroeg nie, dis ’n taphuis; hier is hyserbedieners; ’n lieplapper is lief vir sy lawaaiwater; hier is nagvlinders, nagblomme; hier is mans wat skapies aanja.

Immers is jy een van die honderdes (duisendes?) wat weekliks jou Rapport só lees dat jy Lategan se “Woorde wat wip” (in my geval Ruthie ook) vir laaste hou. Nou kry jy ’n boekvol woorde wat wip wat in konteks, en nie altyd in konteks nie, lei tot ’ n vertelling, of ’n herinnering, of net ’n waarneming.


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Gerrit Rautenbach resenseer Krokodil aan my skouer: Stoffel toe en nou deur Christiaan Bakkes

Krokodil aan my skouer: Stoffel toe en nouUitspraak: wortel

Maar die ding is, Christiaan Bakkes is nie stereotipies of alledaags of gewoon nie. Inteendeel. Hy lewe teen 200%; hy moes net alles uitwoed om te kan weet wat hý gaan word eendag as hy groot is. Daar is dus twee belangrike aspekte hier wat die boek goed maak: unieke interessante inhoudelike stof en ’n ewe unieke skryfstyl. Soos in al sy boeke gebruik hy sy kort masjiengeweersinne, en in vier of vyf sulke sinne spring hy maklik heen en weer tussen drie verskillende onderwerpe. Hier vat en daar los, soos iemand wat nie seker is wat hy met sy lewe wil doen nie. Maar slim genoeg geskryf dat alles sin maak.


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Read Lauren Beukes’ UJ Prize Acceptance Speech and Craig MacKenzie’s Praise of The Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes and Dominique Botha

On Wednesday evening Lauren Beukes and Dominique Botha were awarded the 2013/14 University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African writing in English, for The Shining Girls and False River, respectively.

The Shining GirlsFalse River

Beukes was awarded the Main Prize, which comes with prize money of R75 000, and Botha the Debut Prize, accompanied by an award of R30 000.

On the Main Prize shortlist this year were Beukes, Zakes Mda (The Sculptors of Mapungubwe) as well as Books LIVE members Steven Boykey Sidley (Stepping Out) and Rachel Zadok (Sister-sister).

Ken Barris and Sidley won last year’s UJ Prizes, for Life Underwater and Entanglement, respectively.

Craig MacKenzie of the University of Johannesburg awarded Beukes her prize, calling The Shining Girls a “highly innovative novel” that “blends time travel, serial killers, mystery and the evolution of Chicago in the twentieth century, all within the framework of Beukes’s magical imaginings and rendered in beautifully constructed prose”.

In her speech, Beukes spoke about the novel’s inspiration and setting, and why she wanted to “subvert the serial killer genre”. Beukes said she intentionally made her character Harper Curtis boring, and instead told the victims’ stories. She ended by insisting that as a society we “have to hold onto our anger about femicide”.

Read MacKenzie’s thoughtful comments, followed by Beukes’ acceptance speech and photographs from the event:

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UJ Prize Laudation, 22 October 2014

Craig MacKenzie and Ronit Frenkel

Lauren Beukes has won the 2013 UJ Prize for The Shining Girls (Umuzi). This highly innovative novel blends time travel, serial killers, mystery and the evolution of Chicago in the twentieth century, all within the framework of Beukes’s magical imaginings and rendered in beautifully constructed prose.

Set between 1929 and 1993, the novel focuses chiefly on serial-killing drifter Harper Curtis, who moves through time in search of his ‘shining girls’ in order to steal their light by brutally murdering them. Only one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives, and she becomes the protagonist of the story as she begins to chase Harper across killings until the final denouement towards the end of the novel.

The narrative moves back and forth across decades, something that is made possible by Harper stealing a key off a blind woman whom he strangles. The key opens a house that is really a wormhole into other times while remaining in its Chicago locale. The house is filled with mementos of the women Harper has murdered, and is portrayed as an almost conscious entity in the novel – but its secrets remain secrets to the novel’s end.

Beukes plays with the idea of time travel in innovative ways. Harper travels through different eras, and Beukes points out the ordinary but spectacular sights that strike him as a time traveller – from the “the whirling and flaying brush strips of a car wash” in the 1980s to the construction of the iconic Sears Tower in the 1970s, and to the depression-era atmosphere of Chicago, which is when Harper begins to frequent the wormhole house.

Harper meets a ghetto kid (Mal) in the 1980s, and this provides the occasion for Beukes’s skilful presentation of Harper’s perplexity at being thrust forward in time several decades (he’s never encountered TV, for instance). But one thing remains constant across time. The deadly demeanour of a serial killer: Harper threatens to kill Mal, who immediately backs off, sensing the threat of real physical harm.

Unusually for a novel about a serial killer, Beukes does not flesh out Harper’s character. It is clear that she is attempting to reconfigure our global fascination with serial killers by humanising the victims in the novel rather than their murderer. Accordingly, she describes every woman he murders in vivid detail.
Harper snuffs out each of their lights, but his motivations and background remain inconsequential – he is really assessed only through these deeds. He is not a romantic character in any way, being neither suave and good-looking nor wealthy. He doesn’t have a ‘following’ or any sort of coherent ideological agenda, which we have come to expect from literary and media representations of serial killers.

The magic in the story lies in its against-the-grain depictions, and in Beukes’s blending of old genres to create something new. While Harper picks his victims because he is attracted to their shine, it is Kirby who becomes luminous by using what he does to her to see what others cannot.
Harper leaves something on each of his victims from the woman he murdered before, creating a loop via objects out of time that mark each murder as his own. Kirby is able to connect these objects to one murderer when others cannot, in much the same way that she is able to connect the man from her childhood with the impossible idea that he remains unchanged 13 years later when he returns to kill her.

Perhaps it is Kirby’s uncanny intellect, coupled with an inexplicable experience of the impossible, that makes her shine. The same can be said of her creator. Beukes’s foray into fresh themes and settings in her third novel sparkles with light and interest.

The above is a slightly adapted version of an article that appeared the Mail & Guardian on 6 June 2014

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Lauren Beukes’ UJ Prize Acceptance Speech

Stories are doors. They are the way we understand ourselves. They are our doors into other people’s heads and I think it’s one of the most powerful ways of understanding each other. It’s the most powerful tool of empathy. And novels are a hit straight to the vein, you are mainlining empathy when you read novels.

In The Shining Girls I particularly wanted to subvert the serial killer genre. This idea of serial killers as these diabolical monsters who are so fascinating, and their families were eaten by cannibals, and they’re outwitting the detectives, and they are not that. They’re not. Real serial killers are boring, empty, violent losers. There is nothing interesting about them! The only interesting thing about them is the act of violence that they commit. And it is an act of impotence. This is their only way of being able to connect to the world. And it is pathetic. And the fact that we glorify that is pathetic.

So I really wanted to turn that inside out and to look at the women, to what we lose every time there’s a headline. And The Shining Girls was just about to come out when Reeva Steenkamp was murdered. And for 24 hours she was just Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend. She didn’t have a name! Why do we exalt the killers and lose sight of the victims. I really wanted to bring that through in the book.

I was also interested in the loops of history, and the mistakes we make again and again and again. It’s crazy – we don’t learn. Ben Williams, who’s the literary editor of the Sunday Times, told me a very interesting story about Chicago, that the apartheid government went to Chicago in the 1950s to learn how to do segregation better. And the way to do it better is to drive a highway straight through the slums. Have you been to Cape Town recently? It is a universal story. We like to believe in South Africa that we do crime, that we do segregation, that we do racism, that we do violence best. And corruption. The reason I set The Shining Girls in Chicago is because I was interested in the twentieth century, how it has shaped us, and the same mistakes we’ve made over and over again. From the Depression to the recession. From apartheid to the war on terror, and how they used exactly the same tools to try and control us. This theory of fear that justifies anything. The fact that we are still debating about women’s right to control their body today! When it should have been resolved in the 70s already. And it’s so frustrating for me to see that. And I wanted a broad canvas to play on. If I’d set the novel in South Africa in the twentieth century it would have become a story about apartheid, and Moxyland and Zoo City are both apartheid allegories. I wanted to play with broader issues. But it is written with an absolutely South African sensibility, which is an awareness of social issues because we trip over them in the street here. Especially violence against women. And there have been critiques about the novel and about the violence in the novel. But it’s supposed to be shocking. Because real violence is horrendous. I wanted to tell the stories of victims who didn’t have a voice.

There’s a scene in the novel where Kirby, who’s had a terrible attack happen to her, is talking to Dan, who asks her why she doesn’t just let it go, get over it. And Kirby pulls down her scarf, which she wears to hide the slit where he tried to cut her throat. And she says: “How am I supposed to let this shit go?” And we cannot let this shit go. We have to hold onto our anger about femicide. And of course it’s not committed by serial killers, it’s committed by the men who are supposed to love us.

There’s a belief that feminism hates men. It’s not feminists who hate men. It’s society who hates men. Because we have such a low opinion of men. We believe that they are violent, that they are out of control, that a short skirt will incite them to rape. We need to have a better opinion of men. Men are people too. And we need to hold them accountable. And we need to hold them to higher standards.

Thank you, and thank you for supporting South African literature in such an incredible way.

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Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer) and Books LIVE (@BooksLIVESA) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


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Finalists for 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award Announced

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVAlert! The Jacana Literary Foundation has revealed the shortlist and finalists for the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.

A jury of Johann de Lange, Goodenough Mashego and Ingrid de Kok whittled down 303 entries to a list of 82 poems, which will be published in this year’s anthology, The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IV.

The jury then decided on a shortlist, which was then forwarded to Mongane Wally Serote, who decided on the three finalists.

Finalists for 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award

  • Rochelle Jacobs, for “Something Other”
  • Thabo Jijana, for “Children Watching Old People”
  • Jim Pascual Agustin, for “Illegal, Undocumented”

The winner of the fourth annual Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award will be announced at the launch of the anthology, on Tuesday, 4 November, at a reception at the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg.

Congratulations to the finalists!

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Press release

The Jacana Literary Foundation is pleased to announce the shortlist and finalists for the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award 2014.

The jury, comprising distinguished poets Johann de Lange, Goodenough Mashego and Ingrid de Kok, selected 82 poems out of the 303 entries received to be published in this year’s anthology. The jury furthermore deliberated on which entries should be shortlisted, and this list was sent to celebrated poet and author Mongane Wally Serote, who decided on a list of three finalists, and eventually, the winner. All judging is done anonymously.

The finalists are:

Rochelle Jacobs, for the poem “Something Other”.

Thabo Jijana, for the poem “Children Watching Old People”.

Jim Pascual Agustin, for the poem “Illegal, Undocumented”

The winner of the Sol Plaatje Poetry Award will be announced at a reception at the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg, on Tuesday 4 November, by a European Union Delegation representative. The three finalists receive cash prizes, and the anthology, consisting of poems in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, Sepedi and Setswana, will be launched the same evening. Next year the award will resume its association with the Poetry Africa festival held annually in Durban, which was sadly interrupted this year.

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award is supported by the European Union. The annual Award, named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876–1932) and now in its fourth year, recognises the life and vision of this highly respected political and social activist. As Plaatje’s works did in his time, these poems reveal the political and social attitudes of our time.

Poets included in the 2014 Sol Plaatje EU Poety Anthology

Jim Pascual Agustin, Kyle Steven Allan, Adewole Armah, Saaleha Idrees Bamjee, Suzan-Jane Kathleen Bell, Ayanda Billie, Fadwah Booley, Sindiswa Busuka, Zethu Cakata, Ntyatyi Christian, Margaret Clough, Christine Coates, Lise Day, Gail Dendy, Abigail George, Sunelle Geyer, Kerry Hammerton, Vernon RL Head, Colleen Higgs, Sandra Hill, Rochelle Jacobs, Thabo Jijana, Justine Joseph, Moses Nzama Khaizen, Gertrude Trudi Makhaya, Katise Mawela, Frank Meintjies, Komiso Mfingo, Andrew Miller, Janine Jocelyn Milne, Jackie Mondi, Nedine Moonsamy, Nick Mulgrew, Eduan Naudé, Pam Newham, Sizakele Nkosi, Lazola Pambo, Thabo Seseane, Francine Simon, Annette Snyckers, Dianne Stewart, Jan Tromp, Susan Woodward, Sithembele Xhengwana.


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Don’t Miss the 10th Annual HorrorFest at The Book Lounge

Halloween is approaching, and that means it’s almost time for this year’s Horrorfest at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Home RemediesCabin FeverBloody Parchment: The Root Cellar

Sharp EdgesThe Guardian's WyrdKhepera RisingBetrayal's ShadowBloody Parchment

From The Book Lounge:

It’s once again time to dust off your witch’s hat, release the tarantulas and carve that spooky pumpkin, because the SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment event happening at the Book Lounge on October 29 at 6pm. Get into the creepy spirit by dressing up as your favourite ghoul or ghost, and join us for an evening of haunted thrills when the likes of Diane Awerbuck, Ruth Browne, SA Partridge, Nerine Dorman, Carine Engelbrecht, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, Zane Marc Gentis and David Horscroft gather to share their tales of weirdness and terror.

As usual, the opening event will be followed by film screenings over the next few days at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town (29 October – 7 November) and The Bioscope in Johannesburg.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 29 October 2014
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Participating ghouls: Diane Awerbuck, Ruth Browne, SA Partridge, Nerine Dorman, Carine Engelbrecht, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, Zane Marc Gentis, David Horscroft
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

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Gwen Ansell Reviews Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken MonstersVerdict: carrot

Broken Monsters is not like either of those previous outings. Neither urban fantasy nor horror tale, this book fits more comfortably into the kind of territory Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow have made their own: taking a facet of the present and riffing on it to the point where we see the future implied (and already partly realised) within it.

Within the trappings of solid police procedure, Broken Monsters follows the exploits of another protagonist who, like Curtis, is mired in the banality of evil. This killer creates literally twisted artworks, fusing the bodies of his human victims with those of animals.

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