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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Holly Ringland’s debut novel is a carefully woven coming-of-age story, writes Jennifer Platt

Holly Ringland, whose debut novel is a carefully woven coming-of-age story. Picture: Supplied

 
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart *****
Holly Ringland, Pan Books, R175

“In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire.”

This is the gripping first sentence of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. It’s Holly Ringland’s debut novel. The breathtaking cover of arresting native Australian flowers matches the carefully woven coming-of-age story. Every chapter features a drawing of a particular indigenous Australian plant with an explanation of the meaning of the flower. Black Fire Orchid means “desire to possess”, Flannel flowers mean “what is lost is found”, and Foxtails mean “blood of my blood”.

In turn these meanings become the foreshadowing of Alice’s mostly unhappy life. Young Alice lives in isolation with her mother and her abusive, obsessively jealous father whose “eyes turn black with rage”. She has seen no one besides her parents – they stay far from the madding crowd in a cottage near the sea and sugarcane fields. The only relief she has is her beach that she considers her refuge, her books and her dog Toby.

Then fire does come and consumes all that Alice knows. Injured and unable to talk, she has to go and live with June, a grandmother she never knew she had. June takes her to Thornfield, an indigenous flower farm that is inland, far away from Alice’s beloved sea.

Here Alice heals and learns about the meaning of flowers that surround her and who the dungareed Flowers are; the gentle women that her gran has taken in who happily spend days in the fields tending the precious blooms. But no matter how hard June tries and how many times Alice asks her, June can’t get herself to tell her the horrible truth about Clem, her father.

Alice, now 26 years old, learns sharply about betrayal. She flees the farm and ends up at Kililpitjara National Park where the sacred Sturt’s Desert Peas grow. This strange blood red plant’s meaning is “have courage, take heart”. Unprotected and raw, Alice finds herself in the same situation as her mother and has to find the fortitude to leave.

Ringland, who says she grew up wild and barefoot in her mother’s garden in northern Australia, not only delivers a modern fairytale with poignancy, sadness and most importantly hope, she gives a rare insight to the wondrous and different landscapes that Australia has to offer that is more than just dusty deserts, wild dingoes, nosy neighbours and surfer dudes. @Jenniferdplatt

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Alexander McCall Smith’s latest novel a web of mild desire, observation, constraint, delicacy and discreet disruption, writes Ken Barris

The Quiet Side of Passion ****
Alexander McCall Smith, Little Brown, R265

The Quiet Side of Passion is one of Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie novels. Isabel is a mom, spouse, editor of a philosophical journal, and an incurable busybody. She is married to the gentlest, kindest, most humorous musician of a husband, Jamie, who loses his temper only once in the novel, and then very mildly.

He also turns down his chance to say “I told you so”. They share their house with their young children Magnus and Charlie, who are more seen than heard, which is a good thing because they are not convincing.

More to the point, Isabel’s life is shared with a cast of several: her self-centred niece Cat, the comically dour housekeeper Grace, the annoying Professor Lettuce, and certain strangers and newcomers who drive the story, insofar as there is one.

I went through a few transformations on reading this novel. Initially, enjoyment – there is much to enjoy in the form of elegant writing and lightly intelligent humour, agreeable and mostly well-drawn characters, and Isabel’s strange mixture of constant self-questioning, self-restraint, and impulsiveness.

Quiet Side is also that old-fashioned thing, a novel of manners. The characters are enmeshed in a network of restrictive social mores, defined (in an undefined way) by what one does and doesn’t do; it is a relief that Isabel sometimes does what one doesn’t. Though set in Edinburgh, it is really a portrait of English middle-class conventionality.

Later on, I began to think of it as Jane Austen Lite. A delicate web of mild desire, observation, constraint, delicacy and discreet disruption, unfortunately more quiet than passionate. Then with 76 pages to go, I began to wonder what it was about.

The nuts and bolts of the tale are provided by strangers and newcomers.

Claire Richardson is Isabel’s new editorial assistant. She is beautiful, but rather too strongly linked with Professor Lettuce, who is wont to intrude unwanted on Isabel’s editorial duties.

Antonia is the new Italian au pair. She is vivacious and full of enterprise, especially when it comes to men.

Isabel meets Patricia, a mother she encounters at young Charlie’s school, who both intrigues and annoys her. There are two threatening men who give Isabel a bad turn each, and there is Leo, Cat’s leonine boyfriend, who saves the day.

The plot revolves around Isabel’s interaction with these characters.

Claire turns out to be unsuitable, and soon so does Antonia, both for reasons of highly unsuitable love. They are dismissed without playing a major role in the narrative, though they take up a fair amount of space. Isabel learns that Patricia claims child maintenance from a man who might not be the father of her child. Being incurable, Isabel is driven to solve this mystery, which generates most of the fizz in the tale, though things go – well, not quite horribly wrong, just wrong.

Hence my puzzlement with 76 pages to go. The various threads were woven together (or almost together) deftly enough, and even at this point, I was confident that a satisfactory conclusion would be reached. And in fact it was – all mysteries were solved, threats vanquished, and a happy ending trotted out at the last minute. But I wasn’t sure that it added up to anything entirely coherent or worth saying, other than all’s well that ends well.

Despite this, I found the book entertaining and its understated humour diverting. For holiday reading or relief from our force-fed diet of political angst, The Quiet Side of Passion is highly recommended.

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Book Bites: 11 November

Published in the Sunday Times

Mirror Cracked ***
Raashida Khan, Kwarts, R250

Azraa Hassim has the perfect life: successful career, a loving husband and two wonderful daughters. Her entire identity, however, is put to question when one of her children is diagnosed with a terminal illness, while her husband’s secrets come out of the closet. Khan has created a narrative that bluntly tackles subjects that are often considered taboo in Muslim society. A book whose strength lies in the conversations that it ignites after the final page is read. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

War on Peace ****
Ronan Farrow, HarperCollins, R320

Well-known investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Ronan Farrow has written a must-read for 2018 and beyond. Farrow investigates the effects that the changes in US foreign policy have had on the world. Although there are many personal stories interspersed between the revelations, the decline of international diplomacy that Farrow argues is certainly not overshadowed. Farrow contends that Bill Clinton’s focus on domestic affairs, a policy that was accelerated by US presidents after him, has neglected foreign policy and state departments across the globe. War on Peace is loaded with information and may take a while to absorb, but it’s a critical read to help understand the current state of international affairs. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

An American Story *****
Christopher Priest, Gollancz, R350

Remember being glued to the television on 9/11 as the twin towers crashed down? Most of us probably accept the official line on what happened and why. I’m an old cynic, and inclined to dismiss conspiracy theories, so a book that bases its premise on them has to be pretty good to beguile me. And An American Story is very good indeed. Set in the near future, where science journalist Ben Matson lives with his wife and kids in an independent Scotland, the story moves backwards and forwards between that time and shortly before 9/11 when Ben had an American girlfriend who died in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. But did American Airways flight 77 really end up there, and did she really die on it? Christopher Priest builds a sense of deep unease – much more effective than edge-of-the-seat terror – as Ben struggles to make sense of what happened, in this intelligent and thought-provoking novel. Margaret von Klemperer

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Call for entries for the 2019 Sunday Times Literary Awards

 
Submissions are open for the 2019 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

As in previous years, formal longlists for the prizes will be drawn up: convenors Jennifer Platt and Michele Magwood, along with the chairs of the respective judging panels, will select longlists of approximately 25 books per prize for the judges to assess.

The winners will be announced next year.

Please find below the links to the 2019 entry forms and submission rules and procedures.

NB: The list of titles that publishers wish to enter should reach the convenors, by email, by Tuesday 20 November 2018.

Publishers are requested to nominate no more than FOUR TITLES per imprint and to submit a list of other titles published in 2018 that are eligible. The judging panels may select additional titles for consideration at their discretion.

Only upon receiving notification from the conveners that a title or titles have been included on the longlist, should publishers send five print copies of each title to the Sunday Times, by Monday 3 December 2018

Prize criteria & Entry forms

Note: you can print/download these documents at their links.

Rules and procedures and entry form – Alan Paton Award
Rules and procedures and entry form – Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Publishers are requested to email a list of all titles that they wish to enter to Jennifer Platt of the Sunday Times, at PlattJ@tisoblackstar.co.za by no later than Tuesday 20 November 2018.

Click below to view previous winners:

2018 Sunday Times Literary Awards
2017 Sunday Times Literary Awards
2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards
2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards
2014 Sunday Times Literary Awards
2013 Sunday Times Literary Awards


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13-year-old Praises Banda has been announced as the winner of Nal’ibali’s 2018 Story Bosso contest!

Via Nal’ibali

Praises Banda, a 13-year-old Grade 7 pupil from Leboho Primary School in Limpopo, has been announced as 2018′s Story Bosso winner!

 
Story Bosso is a multilingual storytelling contest designed to provide aspiring storytellers with an opportunity to showcase their talent and to promote storytelling in all official South African languages. It’s an initiative of South Africa’s national-reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali.

The theme for this year’s talent search was ‘South African Heroes’. By remembering and telling the stories of our heroes, the campaign aimed to inspire greatness in all South African children.

Says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director:

“Heroes guide us about how to live our lives; they give us hope and motivate us to overcome challenges. We were blown away by young Praises Banda from Ga-Kibi, Dankie Village, in Limpopo, as her story, skillfully told in her home language Sepedi, did exactly that.”

Told with both sadness and passion, Banda’s story is about her personal hero, Kholofelo Sasebola, who put an end to the bullying she endured at school.

“The sadness in Praises’ voice is palpable. You can tell the bullying was traumatic, but, at the same time, you can hear her passion for celebrating the deed of her hero. Her command of Sepedi is commendable. Though the story is told in simple sentences, Praises uses the language playfully, and the story is easy to understand,” comments Lorato Trok, Story Bosso judge and children’s story development expert.

Storytelling is an important part of South African heritage and plays a key role in children’s literacy development by encouraging the use of imagination, curiosity, and empathy.

More than 50 special storytelling events were held across the country throughout September to allow members of the public to practice and build their storytelling skills before entering the contest.

Banda’s story was selected from over two thousand entries and, as this year’s Story Bosso, she will be receiving R5 000, a book hamper, and R500 worth of airtime.

A further five prizes will be awarded to provincial winners. Thabiso Khoeli from the Free State; Sibongile Mofokeng from Gauteng; Afika Cwecwe from the Eastern Cape; Mandisa Madlala from KwaZulu-Natal and Mbalentle Mangete from the Western Cape will each receive R1 000, a book hamper as well as R250 of airtime.

“Stories need to be valued for the critical contribution they play in the development of young minds. They help build neural circuits in our brains, particularly in young brains, that ultimately enable sophisticated thinking and reasoning,” says Jacobsohn.

“We know that well told stories – where a word may be a snarl, a shout, a whisper, or a cry – can be a colourful trail of chocolate Smarties that lead children to books! Those bonding moments of sharing stories with children help to root the seeds of a culture of reading into South African homes. We are proud of all of our winners this year for showing us what good storytelling can be,” concludes Jacobsohn.

To listen to the winning stories, or to find out more about Story Bosso and the Nal’ibali campaign, visit the Nal’ibali website on www.nalibali.org.


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PEN SA to present the 2018 Day of the Imprisoned Writer on 15 November

PEN South Africa, in collaboration with the Institute for Creative Arts, will present the 2018 Day of the Imprisoned Writer on Thursday, 15 November (5:30 PM) at Hiddingh Hall, Hiddingh Campus, University of Cape Town.

Writers will give readings and presentations in solidarity with jailed artists around the world on this notable day.

RSVP to ica@uct.ac.za.

Click here for more on authors featured on the programme and the cases of the five incarnated artists to be commemorated.


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The 2018 South African Literary Awards winners announced

Via SALA

 
The 2018 winners of the prestigious South African Literary Awards were announced at a gleaming awards ceremony on the 6th November at UNISA.

Twenty-three South African authors were shortlisted for 2018 South African Literary Awards (SALA). The winners, which include authors, poets, writers and literary practitioners whose works are continuously contributing to the enrichment of South Africa’s literary landscape, were celebrated in an auspicious ceremony.

The SALA Awards have honoured over a hundred individuals in the past 13 years. 2018 marked the highest milestone of the awards, as the shortlist included, for the first time, two additional categories: Novel Award and Children’s Literature Award.

Following the passing on of the second National Poet Laureate, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile, the prestigious South African Literary Awards announced liberation struggle poet and novelist Mongane Wally Serote as the successor.

Kelwyn Sole received the Poetry Award for his anthology Walking, Falling, whilst South African journalist, writer and publisher Sam Mathe got the Literary Journalism Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Literary Award was jointly awarded to author of historical and political Hermann Giliomee and award winning author Ronnie Kasrils.

The Chairperson Award was given to South Africa’s most distinguished award-winning photo journalist, Peter Magubane.

The Novel Award was awarded to Dan Sleigh for his book 1795, with Malebo Sephodi receiving the First-Time Published Author Award for her memoir, Miss Behave.

Nick Mulgrew and Nicole Jaekel Strauss were announced as joint winners for the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award for The First Law of Sadness and As in die mond, respectively.

Jürgen Schadenberg was the recipient of the Creative Non-Fiction Award for his monograph, The Way I See It.

The Conference also took place at UNISA over two days, i.e. 6th and 7th November 2018 under the theme “Unifying Africa: Writing and Reading in African languages”, with keynote speaker Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, the renowned, highly respected scholar, prolific author and public speaker who is also the founder of the Center for Advanced Studies of African Societies in South Africa.

“Indeed, as it’s main aim, SALA continues to strive to become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in South African literature,” said Morakabe Seakhoa, Project Director of the South African Literary Awards.

Founded by the wRite associates, in partnership with the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) in 2005, the main aim of the South African Literary Awards is to pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as groundbreaking producers and creators of literature, while it celebrates literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems and philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the languages of South Africa, particularly the official languages.

“We congratulate the 2018 winners for their sterling work and keeping South Africa’s literary heritage alive,” says Morakabe Seakhoa.

Book details

1795 by Dan Sleigh
Book homepage
EAN: 9780624073307
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Miss Behave

Miss Behave by Malebo Sephodi
EAN: 9781928337416
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The First Law of Sadness

The First Law of Sadness by Nick Mulgrew
EAN: 9781485625780
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As in die Mond

As in die Mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss
EAN: 9780795801358
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The Way I See It

The Way I See It: A Memoir by Jürgen Schadenberg
EAN: 9781770105294
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“Poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story” – a Q&A with slam poet and performer Siphokazi Jonas

Nal’ibali Column 29: Term 4, 2018

Sunday World 4 November 2018, Daily Dispatch 5 November 2018, Herald 8 November 2018

By Carla Lever

Slam poet par excellence, Siphokazi Jonas

 
Your poetry engages very deliberately with political and personal questions of identity. What kinds of ideas are you most passionate about spreading through it?

It’s all about the importance of autonomy in telling your story. I’m really interested in writing about and staging narratives which are not seen regularly, particularly about the lives of black women.

Do you think that there’s a space for poetry to reach people politically where newspaper reports or debate can’t? How can we all use or be open to that space?

Absolutely – poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story. There is room for publishing poetry in newspapers and other media which could widen the scope of who has access to our work.

We come from a long history of protest poetry – literature, storytelling, theatre and so on. But now, it feels like there is a generational shift: a group of passionate young people who are ready to make their own political points outside of the traditionally political works of the past. Does this feel to you like a good time to be a young poet?

This is a fantastic time to be a poet! The shifts happen as politics and concerns change. Poetry gives us a platform not only to wrestle with past and present but also to engage with an imagined future.

Sometimes, no matter how familiar we are with a work, we can still read something and have a strong emotional reaction to it. Can you give us a couple of lines of your own poetry that still hit home for you?

Sure. Here’s an extract from my poem Making Bread:
Every December, in exchange for Tupperware full of roosterkoek
Tried over coals, I present uMama with English poems
To match the decadence of the season.
(English, with its heavy hand of sugar, corrodes my vernacular,
English poems do not let me forget that the bowl I work in is borrowed)
.

It’s always a challenge to get work out into the public, particularly as a poet. In 2016 you released some of your poetry in a very unusual format: a DVD. Can you tell us a little about why you did that and how it’s been received?

The DVD was to capture the verve and fire of spoken word which often disappears once you leave the stage. Although the work was received well, we didn’t quite account for the move away from physical DVDs and CDs – the best platforms for distribution are now online.

You’ve had some great successes in big slam poetry competitions. What has been the most exciting experience for you?

Slam is quiet a competitive format of performance and poses a challenge to the poet because of all the rules and time constraints placed on a performance. My favourite thing is how the slams tend to feel like collaborations instead of competitions.

I first encountered your work when you performed with the ‘Rioters in Session’ poetry collective. Can you tell us a little about them?

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a number of their performances, though I’m not officially part of their collective. In their own words, Rioters in Session was “organized [as] an intuitive community for POC poetry womxn to share their work in a soft and safe space with a gentle audience”.

Why is it important for poets, storytellers, performers to have spaces to share their work and for people to be able to share and discuss it together? What does sharing stories do for communities of people?

We have an incredible history of storytelling and poetry in this country which has been integral as a way of archiving history, holding communities together, holding leaders accountable, protesting injustice, etc. I believe that we are seeing the same in the contemporary moment.

How can we encourage young people to get involved with poetry and storytelling? Are there resources or organisations you could direct them to?

The best way is to read poetry and also watch material online, follow poetry houses on social media such as Hear My Voice, Word and Sound, Poetry Africa, Poet in a Suit, Inzync Poetry, Grounding Sessions, Current State of Poetry, Words in My Mouth Poetry Slam. If there are no existing book clubs or poetry groups, start them right where you are!

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org.


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South African teen author’s debut novel goes international

Via Suvash Sooriah

Deliverance written by Christine Pather – is a compelling read as it tells a tale of survival of victims of abuse. The novel focuses on three teenage siblings and their far from glamourous lives despite being a part of an elitist family in New York City.

Christine Pather, former Wingen Heights (Durban) student, matriculated last year and has taken a gap year to pursue her literary dreams.

Christine wrote Deliverance when she was sixteen-years-old and has dedicated it to her mother.

Christine grew up being raised by a single mother and as a child, she was the first to witness her mom’s unyielding determination, strength and drive to go after what she wished hence Christine was strongly motivated to be and do the same. She’s always been an avid reader and this is what ultimately inspired her to write stories of her own.

While Deliverance is her first official publication, Christine is currently working on other projects.

Deliverance explores common but very rarely spoken about realities in the lives of our youth when it comes to issues such as abuse and homosexuality.

The story itself is unique in its own right and as are the characters.

The siblings each go through different transitions.

Kylar learns that he’s adopted which causes him to internally question himself and his life.

Skylar swore she’d never fall in love because she’d always been wary of the mere thought of getting close to someone but when she meets Evan that all changes.

Evan challenges her in ways she’d never thought possible and he also has the uncanny ability to see past her high-raised walls.

And lastly, Cameron who is the youngest of the three siblings, has the hardest time breaking free of the perception that he’s still a child that needs to be protected when in fact he is not.

Troubles further arise when Cameron is forced to deal with his own insecurities and even more so with his reluctance to accept who he really is. But, despite their differences (new and old alike), the trio eventually find themselves banded together on their quest for truth when they go in search of Kylar’s birth parents. As their questions and search gets deeper, they end up discovering more than what they’d originally bargained for.

Deliverance is now available on Amazon worldwide as both an E-book and a paperback and is also available as a nook book from Barnes & Noble – the world’s largest leading book retailers.


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Michelle Obama, DJ Sbu and Jamie Oliver headline the 2018 Exclusive Books Festive Catalogue

Via Exclusive Books

Exclusive Books has made gifting easy for South Africans this year, with more than 100 titles to pick from in its annual festive catalogue – including Becoming, Michelle Obama’s personal account of her upbringing, her life in the White House and what it’s like to raise two daughters under the media’s glare.

The catalogue is available free from Exclusive Books stores from 1 November.

“There’s a book for every age and taste,” said Ben Williams, GM: Marketing at Exclusive Books, “and plenty of local flavour mixed in with the international blockbusters.”

Alongside Becoming, other such blockbusters will include Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century and Out of the Maze: A Story About the Power of Belief, the final book by Dr. Spencer Johnson, of Who Moved My Cheese? fame.

DJ Sbu’s The Art of Hustling: Sell or Surrender headlines the business category with Johnson. “It’s the book that will launch a thousand SA entrepreneurs,” said Williams.

For cookery enthusiasts, Jamie Oliver’s Jamie Cooks Italy will transport home chefs to the Bel Paese, while Simply Zola by Zola Nene serves up a South African taste sensation.

John Grisham’s Reckoning stands tall in the fiction section, along with George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood and Deon Meyer’s Prooi. “Take them all to the beach!” said Williams.

For younger readers, the Harry Potter Pop-Up Guide to Hogwarts is set to provide hours of fun, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid box set – all twelve books in one place, at a special price – is a sure-fire future heirloom for every reading family.

On the sports scene, Shane Warne’s autobiography, No Spin, has already set tongues wagging – with sledging to follow, no doubt.

“We’re promoting several books at very special prices,” said Williams, “including Jeffrey Archer’s Heads You Win, an epic tale of fame and fortune that begins in Leningrad, Russia, and will be sure to please his legions of fans. We understand that customers are under ever more pressure and have worked hard to ensure they can find something for every family member at the right price.”

Fanatics members will earn double points on all the books featured in the catalogue.

Spread the magic – give a book this season, with Exclusive Books.


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