Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Umuzi’ Category

Kortlyste vir die kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-toekennings 2017 bekendgemaak

Die Afrikaanse resensiebedryf kan homself op die skouer klop te oordeel na die gehalte van inskrywings wat vir vanjaar se kykNET-Rapport Boekresensent van die Jaar-wedstryd ontvang is.

Die kortlyste is pas bekend gemaak vir dié pryse, wat ingestel is om die belange van boeke en die leesgenot van boekliefhebbers te bevorder deur die wêreld van Afrikaanse boeke vir die breë Suid-Afrikaanse publiek toeganklik te maak. Dit dien ook as aanmoediging om hoë standaarde in die Afrikaanse boekjoernalistiek te handhaaf.

Altesaam 33 van die voorste resensente in Afrikaans het vanjaar ingeskryf, tien meer as verlede jaar. Twee pryse van R25 000 elk word toegeken vir die beste Afrikaanse resensie wat in 2016 oor Afrikaansie fiksie en niefiksie onderskeidelik verskyn het. Die kortlyste, wat uit 90 inskrywings saamgestel is, is soos volg:

Fiksie

Danie Marais: “Die ‘Kook en Geniet’ van oneerbiedigheid” (oor Anton Kannemeyer en Conrad Botes se Bitterkomix 17, Media24-dagblaaie, 4 Julie 2016)
Charl-Pierre Naudé: “Digterlike afdruk van ‘n lewe verbeeld” (oor Bibi Slippers se Fotostaatmasjien, Media 24-dagblaaie, 5 Desember 2016)
Elmari Rautenbach: “Debuut se stiltes ’n elegie aan verlore liefde” (oor Valda Jansen se Hy kom met die skoenlappers, Media 24-dagblaaie, 18 Julie 2016)

Niefiksie

Reinhardt Fourie: Vlam in die sneeu: Die liefdesbriewe van André P. Brink en Ingrid Jonker (geredigeer deur Francis Galloway, Tydskrif vir letterkunde, September/Oktober 2016)
Daniel Hugo: “Een van die heel grotes” (oor Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou, saamgestel deur Danie Botha, Rapport, 14 Februarie 2016)
Emile Joubert: “Die afkook van ’n vol lewe vind hier beslag” (oor Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman met Elmari Rautenbach, Media24-dagblaaie, 31 Oktober 2016)

Die keurders was boekjoernalis en digter Bibi Slippers (sameroeper), senior joernalis en skrywer Jomarié Botha en digter en dosent Alfred Schaffer. Aangesien ’n werk van Slippers geresenseer is, is sy vir die finale keuring deur die redakteur van Huisgenoot, Yvonne Beyers, vervang.

Die keurders was dit eens dat die inskrywings deur die bank van ’n baie hoë gehalte was en werklik leeslus aanwakker.

“Daar was heelparty gevalle waar ek nie noodwendig onder normale omstandighede in ’n sekere boek sou belangstel nie, maar die resensent se entoesiasme en insigte het my genoeg geprikkel om dit ’n kans te wil gee,” sê Slippers.

“Dit was ook veral heerlik om verskillende resensies van belangrike boeke soos Die na-dood, Vlakwater en Koors te lees, en uiteenlopende interpretasies en leesbenaderings te kan ervaar via die resensente.”

Daar was vanjaar heelwat nuwe name onder die resensente wat ingeskryf het. “Ek hoop dat ons deur inisiatiewe soos dié die poel selfs verder kan vergroot. Hoe meer ingeligte, intelligente menings uit verskillende perspektiewe verteenwoordig is, hoe beter vir alle rolspelers in die boekbedryf,” sê Slippers.

Die wenners word op 30 September 2017 saam met die wenners van die kykNET-Rapport-boekpryse in Kaapstad aangekondig.
 

Bitterkomix 17Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Fotostaatmasjien

 
 

Hy kom met die skoenlappers

 
 

Vlam in die sneeu

 
 

Om Hennie Aucamp te onthou

 
 

Wat die hart van vol is


» read article

“We built our wall across America three years before Trump used it in his election campaign” – Frank Owen on South

“The USA has been ravaged by Civil War. It’s thirty years since the first wind-borne viruses ended the war between North and South – and still they keep coming. Every wind brings a new and terrifying way to die. The few survivors live in constant fear, hiding from the wind – and from each other.

In this harsh Southern expanse, brothers Garrett and Dyce Jackson are on the run from brutal law-enforcers. They meet Vida, a lone traveller on a secret quest. Together, they will journey into the dark heart of a country riven by warfare and disease. Together, they will discover what it takes to survive.” – SOUTH, Frank Owen

Michael Sears, co-author of the Detective Kubu-series, recently sat down with our sunshine noir author(s) for August, Frank Owen, the writing duo comprised of Diane Awerbuck and Alex Latimer. During the interview they discussed their post-apocalyptic novel South; human nature; the novel’s themes of segregation and prejudice, reminiscent of apartheid-era South Africa; and researching mushrooms.

Alex Latimer and Diane Awerbuck

 

You both come from rather different backgrounds. How did you come to write together, and what motivated this unusual premise for a novel set in the U.S.?

AL: When I was releasing my first novel, The Space Race, I’d just finished reading Diane’s heavy-hitting but wonderful book, Home Remedies, and so as a fan, I asked her to interview me at the launch. With some bribery, she agreed. We do come from different backgrounds, but we realized early on that our interests are quite similar. The idea to write together was just for fun, initially, because it’s difficult to know how that process works without getting into it.

The premise for SOUTH came from chatting over coffee during a particularly cold and windy Cape Town winter. Everyone was sick and had been for what seemed like months. The idea of wind-borne viruses was literally in the air. But at the same time, I think the premise of building walls and keeping people apart was also floating about in the global zeitgeist. We built our wall across America three years before Trump used it in his election campaign. Fiction has a hard time keeping up with reality.

As one-half of a writing couple myself, I’m naturally intrigued to know how you actually write together- by chapter, character, draft? And is there any significance behind the name Frank Owen?

DA: Frank is a name from a side of my family, and Owen came from Alex’s. So the ancestors are doing their bit there.

AL: I don’t really think of our collaboration as two writers writing the same story. Diane’s writing style and my writing style are quite different – so the process was more about combining my skills with hers rather than sharing the load. I’ve always been intrigued by pace and plot, whereas Diane’s writing is much more lyrical. We tried a few ways of working, but in the end we’d just chat about where the story was going and then I’d put down the first draft of a chapter and Diane would double it, concentrating on character and atmosphere. We wanted a fast-paced action narrative told in a “literary” style.

Your lead characters Dyce and his brother are heading for the sea on the run from a powerful family, while Vida is trying to save her mother and her mother’s knowledge of natural remedies. They have different agendas, but join forces from necessity, despite the ongoing tension between them. Is it an axiom that this type of thriller needs to be more character driven than plot driven?

DA: Most of us readers are interested in characters as people. I definitely read novels because I hope to find answers to all sorts of dilemmas. Complex, believable characters are a way to talk about serious issues without tub-thumping.

AL: We were quite conscious about spending time doing both character and plot. My default would be plot first – but then who cares what happens in a novel if they don’t care about who it’s happening to? It’s a tricky balance.

SOUTH is a dark vision. People are automatically suspicious of any stranger who may be the carrier of a new and usually fatal disease. There is little cooperation with the exceptions of one community which protects itself and generally excludes strangers, and a hospice-type community where everyone is already sick. Yet many of your characters – including Dyce and Vida -are trying to help and support others. Would you call yourselves optimists about human nature, and was exploring the behavior of intrinsically good people in intolerable circumstances part of your theme?

AL: I’m certainly an optimist about human nature. Why can’t we all just get along? For me apocalyptic fiction is all about whittling away the parts of life that are non-essential. There’s no dry-cleaning to be done, no dog food to buy, no peeling fascia boards that need attention. You get right into the essence of a person. But as dark as that sounds, we realized early on that every single character in the book had to be hopeful in some way – because without that hope they’d already be dead. It’s a lovely space to explore human nature and the will to survive.

DA: It’s something that fascinates me, and the only answer I’ve found is Viktor Frankl’s, in Man’s Searching for Meaning. What makes one person give up, and another keep fighting? Even medical doctors call it the will to live: they don’t know exactly what it is, either – but we all know it when we see it.

Continue reading Michael’s interview with Alex and Diane here.

Click here for an excerpt of South.

South

Book details

 

The Space Race

 
 

Home Remedies


» read article

The illumination of truthfulness: Zakes Mda’s Sunday Times Literary Awards keynote address

Published in the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times editor, Mr Bongani Siqoko, tells me “illumination of truthfulness” is the main criterion of the Alan Paton Award, which was established in 1989 for non-fiction works. He believes it applies to fiction as well, and quotes Albert Camus, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”

I thank him for inviting me to give this talk. I think the topic is quite apt in this age of truthiness (1), post-truth (2) and alternative facts (3).

I must begin by saluting the Sunday Times for establishing these awards and for maintaining them for so many years. I am honored that I was the first writer to win the inaugural Sunday Times Fiction Prize with my third novel, The Heart of Redness, some 16 years ago.

I must also salute the Sunday Times for its sterling work in journalism, particularly its investigative reporting. You, and your colleagues have added value to our young democracy by taking your watchdog role seriously. Democracy cannot function without freedom of expression in general and of the media in particular.

Some of you might know of Lorraine Adams, who first caused literary waves with her debut novel, Harbor. She wrote this work of fiction after spending years reporting on Afghanistan and Iran for the Washington Post and winning a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism. In her journalism, she is reputed to have dug out hidden stories on crucial issues such as xenophobia, immigration and terrorism. It was therefore a major surprise when she decided to quit the profession. There was even greater astonishment when she revealed she was leaving journalism for fiction so that she could write the truth. She explained that it was only with fiction that she could address the truth behind the facts. Whereas the journalist views truth in terms of witnessable and observable scenes, she added, the novelist pierces into a privacy where the truth resides.

She is correct. Journalism answers the simple question: what happened? It is the same question that is answered by most forms of non-fiction, including history. What happened? Of course, there are attendant questions such as how and why it happened, but the key story lies in the event.

Fiction on the other hand goes much further, and answers the question: what was it really like to be in what happened?

Talking of the genesis of her fine book on a bitter rivalry of two women who are neighbors, The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso tells an NPR interviewer, “I was really looking at what is it like, particularly for the Marion character, to have been someone during the apartheid days who didn’t necessarily resist apartheid, disagree with it, but kind of went along. What is it like now, you know, post-apartheid.” [emphasis mine]

What is it like? I am sure it is the same question that Kopano Matlwa attempts to answer with her suspenseful prose as we follow the young doctor, Masechaba, trying to reclaim her life in Period Pain, or Bronwyn Law-Viljoen’s The Printmaker as we search for an answer to the enigma of the printmaker’s solitary life. What was it like to be Hennie, an Afrikaner teenager in the Orange Free State of the 1980s, who has to escape his abusive father, and embark on a remarkable journey in search of his sister? We experience Hennie’s life with him in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know.

What was it like to be in what happened? It is a question whose answer gives us a sensory experience of the event. Fiction is experiential because it is transportational and vice versa.

To address this transporting question the writers create fully-realized characters – protagonists and antagonists and their allies – struggling to achieve their objectives and overcome obstacles in a compelling narrative arc. These characters may be based on real-life people the writer has known, or may be composites of same. They may even claim to have emerged from imagination. But we remember that the line of demarcation between imagination and memory is very blurred. We imagine from what we know; in other words, what we remember. Memory itself is essentially fictive. And since we are what we remember, our work creates us as we create it.

Into whatever we create as artists we bring the baggage that is our own biographies, whether we are conscious of that or not. A lot of what we create in a character is drawn from us, the creators, and from our experiences. We are always writing ourselves in the same way that we are always writing the same book.

The important thing about conventional fictional characters is that they do not function in any credible manner until their actions are motivated. The few exceptions that defy this convention are such postmodern narrative modes as magical realism. In traditional fiction, there is a practical “why” behind a character’s objectives and behaviors. Her actions are not only motivated but justified as well. This means she is who she is because of her life-experience, of her history. Fiction is very big on causality. Her actions are therefore psychologically (not necessarily morally) justified. This tells you that every writer of fiction worth her salt is a psychologist, a keen observer of human behavior and mental processes.

It is small wonder, therefore, that Sigmund Freud drew most of his groundbreaking conclusions – resulting in psychotherapy, “the talking cure” – from studying characters in novels rather than from analyzing live subjects. A whole new branch of psychiatry known as psychoanalysis was founded by analyzing fiction.

In the academy these days fiction is used to teach many other subjects, not only in psychology, history and philosophy, because fiction pierces into the truth behind the facts. Sipho Noko, an LL.B. student, told me on Twitter the other day that he had never read an African novel before until my novel, Black Diamond, was prescribed at the University of Pretoria Law School for a topic titled “Law from Below”. When I wrote that novel – a layman in the field of law – I never imagined it could be a law school textbook. Another lawyer, Advocate Maru Moremogolo, wrote to me about Little Suns, “Your book brings context to judicial powers of traditional leaders, a perfect timing #Dalindyebo – how the King wanted some of his judicial powers returned from the magistrate.”

He thought I was being prophetic, I thought I was just telling a story.

I was once astounded when I learned that Ways of Dying was prescribed at an architecture school in the United Kingdom. When I wrote that novel I never imagined I was writing about architecture. Yewande Omotoso, who is an architect in another life, once tried to explain how the novel relates to architecture, a field I know nothing about. But I forget now what she said.

The ability of fiction to operate so comfortably across all these diverse disciplines lies not only in its descriptive powers or its capacity to delineate structural problems, but in its facility to examine interiorities. The interior experience is absent in journalism, as it is in most non-fiction. The search of the interior experience has resulted in the emergence of Narrative Journalism in recent times (and of New Journalism in the last century), where the practitioners try to apply the techniques of fiction such as point of view and plot and various other narrative devices to journalism. You have seen this practiced quite successfully in the New Yorker and to some extent in Granta.

One notable non-fiction genre that has mastered the intricacies of hybridity is memoir. Memoir, unlike biography/autobiography, uses the tools of fiction to capture the essence of an aspect of the author’s life. Like fiction it explores interiorities.

The publishing industry in the Western world has set distinguishing features between memoir and traditional autobiography to which it adheres faithfully. Of course, writers always experiment and transgress genres. An autobiography is about the writer. She is the subject in a historical chronicle of her life and the events that shaped it – from the time she was born to a determined period. A memoir, on the other hand, is not about the writer but about something else as experienced by the writer or those close to her. A memoir therefore must have a subject because the writer is not the subject. For instance, the subject may be Alzheimer. A memoir must have a central theme: for example, on the author’s struggles to cope with a husband who is gradually losing his memory. A true memoirist works from memory – hence the name of the genre – because she is not a chronicler of history. She mines her memory and tries to capture the feelings and emotions she had at the time of the event. Her account is enriched by the distortions of time, by obliviousness, by faulty recall, by amnesia. The fidelity is to the emotion rather than to historical accuracy. That is why you can conflate characters in a memoir and re-invent new contexts etc. to capture and represent to the reader the feeling and sometimes the philosophy. The emphasis is on emotional truth.

History, like journalism, answers the question: what happened? We write historical fiction to take history to the level of: what was it like to be in what happened? The story of Mhlontlo that I write in Little Suns was well-known to me from the time I was a toddler. It is part of family lore. Even after I had researched its historical aspects, it still remained a series of anecdotes – surface stories lacking subtlety. It was only when I was writing it as a work of fiction, exploring what it was really like to be Mhlontlo by recreating his exterior and interior worlds, and the worlds of those who surrounded him, protagonists and antagonists, their loves, their losses, their gains, victories and defeats, that the emotional import hit me. Anger swelled in my chest. To my embarrassment I was caught screaming one day, “Damn, this is what they did to my great grandfather.”

The injustices done to amaMpondomise by the British endure to this day under the ANC regime. The amaMpondomise continue to be punished for having stood against British colonialism.
Like most writers of historical novels, I write historical fiction to grapple with the present. Great historical fiction is more about the present than it is about the past. That is why the lawyer could relate the past I was re-imagining to present contestations. The past is always a strong presence in our present.

Traditional historians believe that history is objective reality. For me history does not have an objective existence. It exists only as an absence. We don’t have direct access to the past; we cannot scientifically and objectively observe its facts. We experience history through words, through storytelling and through chronicles of events and dates. Therefore, history is textual; our attempts at separating it from literature are tenuous.

History is as subjective as journalism. I know, you think you’re objective. Observe how The New Age on one hand and the Sunday Times on the other report on the same event. It is bound to read like two different events. The value-laden words, the incidents selected or left out, and the angles that the reporters take will surely reflect their subjectivities. If contemporary journalism cannot be objective about contemporary events, what more of history which is shaped by its necessary textuality?

History is the story of the victor. That is what I try to correct. In doing so I make it herstory as well. South Africa presents us with a good example of the creation and imposition of a narrative that legitimizes the ruling elite of the day. The colonizers wrote history from their own perspective, always to validate their privileged position. The subaltern groups were denied a voice. They were even erased from the landscape so that when the colonizer arrived in southern Africa the lands were vast and empty and the natives non-existent. The colonialist dismissed as fanciful oral traditions that located ancient kingdoms and empires in the region dating hundreds of years before colonization. When the colonizer’s own ethno-archeologists excavated towns and settlements dating more than a thousand years ago, the proponents of “vast empty lands” created alternative narratives attributing them to alien civilizations – sometimes even from outer space. They were the victors and could therefore re-create the past in their own image.

Now a new order exists in South Africa. Like all regimes before it the new dispensation is narrating the past from its own perspective, re-creating and reshaping it to palliate the very present it continues to mismanage, erasing the contribution of some from the annals of history, and lionizing the current crooks – the harvesters of matundu ya uhuru, the fruits of freedom.

The truth of fiction can give context to and shed new insights on the stories unearthed by your investigative reporting. It gives them longevity and digestibility. Fiction is even more essential in this age when shamelessness and impunity among the ruling elite, and corruption-fatigue in the populace, are leading South Africa to perdition.

1 – Truthiness: The quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.
2 – Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics): a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. (Wikipedia)
3 – Alternative facts: President Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway’s phrase to describe demonstrable falsehoods that are touted as truth.

The Heart of Redness

Book details

 
 
 

The Woman Next Door

 
 
 

Period Pain

 
 
 

The Printmaker

 
 
 

The Safest Place You Know

 
 
 

Black Diamond

 
 
 

Little Suns

 
 
 

Ways of Dying


» read article

Greg Marinovich and Zakes Mda win the 2017 Sunday Times Literary Awards

Little Suns
Murder at Small Koppie

Greg Marinovich and Zakes Mda have been announced as the winners of the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards.

The winners were announced at a black tie event at the Sunday Times’ office. Apart from receiving the celebrated Sunday Times Literary Awards accolade, each author is also awarded prize money of R100,000.

Novelist Zakes Mda was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his book Little Suns, published by Umuzi.

Greg Marinovich received the Alan Paton Award for his book Murder at Small Koppie: The Real Story of the Marikana Massacre, published by Penguin Books.

2017 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist
2017 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award shortlist

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize was judged this year by Rehana Rossouw (chair), Africa Melane and Kate Rogan.

The Alan Paton Award judging panel was chaired by Pippa Green, supported by judges Tinyiko Maluleke and Johann Kriegler.

Book details


» read article

Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist: Zakes Mda discusses the origins of his novel Little Suns

Published in the Sunday Times

Little SunsLittle Suns
Zakes Mda (Umuzi)

My grandfather, Charles Mda, had a horse named Gobongwane. I remember my grandfather in his brown riding boots and breeches coming in from a tour of his orchard at his estate that covered a large part of Dyarhom Mountain on the Eastern Cape side of the border of Lesotho with South Africa. He loved his horse and I can still hear in my mind’s ear his weather-beaten tenor singing in praise of his horse: “Nanko ke, nanko k’uGobondwane.”
He told us the melody was based on a song that his grandfather, Mhlontlo, sang to his own horse called Gcazimbane. Then the stories would flow from him about Mhlontlo, the king of amaMpondomise, who was a great medicine man that could turn the white man’s bullets into water. My imagination would run wild at this magic and I would imagine crystal clear water flowing from the barrel of the guns of the Red Coats, as the British soldiers were called.
My uncle, Robert Mda, would sometimes visit and add to these stories. He would tell us how Mhlontlo was accused of assassinating Hamilton Hope, a British magistrate assigned to his district in Qumbu, Eastern Cape, and how he (Mhlontlo) and a group of his followers were exiled to Lesotho. Though he was recaptured after 20 years, many of his followers remained in Lesotho as they had then established themselves in that country with their families. That is why to this day there are all those Mdas who are sheep farmers in Lesotho’s Mantsonyane Mountains and horsemen in Taung.
Years later I came across praise poetry that mentioned Mhlontlo in a book by Lesotho historian, Mosebi Damane, and years after that, I stumbled into a book on Mhlontlo by Clifton Crais, an Ohio historian. Suddenly Mhlontlo was no longer just a creature of magic, myth and legend. He was a historical man of flesh and blood. I searched for primary sources, court records, newspaper articles, and the oral tradition to recreate his life and times. And because I love love, I decided to place the historical events in a fictional love story. That’s how Little Suns was born. Though I am a staunch republican and do not believe in the anachronistic institution of royalty which in my view is a relic of feudalism, the fact remains that it exists in parts of South Africa and people love and support it.
It is therefore untenable to me that amaMpondomise lost their own kingship solely because they stood firm and fought against colonialism, while neighbouring national groups (as they were at the time) continue to have their kings only because they supported the colonial war machine against amaMpondomise during the War of Hope. A free South Africa reinforced this injustice through its Nhlapho Commission which continued to deny amaMpondomise their rights. It was important for me then to bring the history of amaMpondomise to light.

Extract
Like all the peoples of the eastern region, amaMpondomise were known for their hospitality. But these particular iindwendwe were not the most welcome guests in the history of kwaMpondomise. Everyone had been dreading their arrival from the time spies reported that they had left Qumbu with a caravan made up of one wagon loaded with five hundred Martini-Henry rifles for the thousand men that Mhlontlo had promised Hamilton Hope, a Scotch cart loaded with ammunition comprising 18 000 ball cartridges, two other wagons loaded with mealies and potatoes, another Scotch cart loaded with the things of the white people, and a slew of black servants – mostly amaMpondomise and amaMpondo converts and a few amaQheya or Khoikhoi. The caravan was led by the four white men on their horses, Hope, Warren, Henman and Davis.
Qumbu was only 18 miles from Sulenkama so they had arrived the same afternoon, and had set up camp on a hill about a mile from the village. Even before they could send a messenger to Mhlontlo’s Great Place the king sent his own messenger to them, a man called Faya. The king was reiterating what he had said before; he would not lead the army to war. His army was waiting for the orders, all ready to go, and his uncle Gxumisa was ready to lead them anytime he was called upon to do so. He, Mhlontlo, King of amaMpondomise, was in mourning because his senior wife, daughter of the most revered monarch in the region, King Sarhili of amaGcaleka, also known as amaXhosa, had passed away, and according to the customs of his people he had to stay in seclusion and observe certain rituals. He could not touch weapons of war during mourning.
Of course Hamilton Hope had heard all this nonsense before. He sent Faya back to his master with a stern message: the British Empire could not be kept waiting on account of heathen customs. The war would be fought and the Pondomise warriors would be led by none other than Umhlonhlo. He, Hamilton Hope, Resident Magistrate of the District of Qumbu in the Cape Colony Government of Her Glorious Majesty Queen Victoria, was summoning the Pondomise paramount chief Umhlonhlo to come and meet him in person forthwith and take orders to march to war against the rebel Basotho chief Magwayi, failing which he would be stripped of all vestiges of chieftainship and his Pondomise tribe would be placed under chiefs of those tribes that were willing to cooperate with Her Majesty’s Government.
As Faya galloped away with the dire message, Hope fired a few shots after him to illustrate that he was serious, to the laughter of his entourage. Faya hollered all the way to the Great Place that someone should save him; the men whose ears reflected the rays of the sun – ooNdlebezikhanyilanga – were trying to kill him.
For two days Mhlontlo kept Hamilton Hope waiting. That was the stand-off that had excited the young men. At last the elders were fighting back. Finally the king was refusing to be treated like an uncircumcised boy by a couple of white people whose own penises were undoubtedly still enveloped in foreskins. In the evening they cast their eyes on the hill and saw the fires at Hamilton Hope’s camp and went on with their lives as if all was normal and the world was at peace with itself. Of course Hope was not amused.

Follow Zakes Mda @ZakesMda

Book details


» read article

Sally Andrew on her latest novel, the significance of the Karoo, and Tannie Maria’s relationship with food…

Michael Sears, co-author of the Detective Kubu-series, recently interviewed one of South Africa’s most beloved sunshine noir authors, Sally Andrew.

Sally gained recognition for her Tannie Maria Mystery-series. Set in the Karoo, featuring fascinating characters, plenty of food and a healthy dosage of murder-solving, the first novel in the series, Recipes for Love and Murder has been described as “a triumph” by the masterful Alexander McCall Smith.

Here Sally discusses the second novel in the series, The Satanic Mechanic, the significance of the Klein Karoo, and going deeper into Tannie Maria’s PTSD symptoms:

Tannie Maria is a wonderful character. Steeped in the traditions of the Karoo, “cooking with love,” and caring, but she’s also as hard as steel when she has to be. Did you set out to understand Tannie Maria more deeply in the new book, or did she just decide to tell you?

My decisions and Tannie Maria’s decisions are usually entwined. One of us may start with an idea and the other will run with it. There were questions raised in the first book about Tannie Maria’s relationship with her late abusive husband, and how this impacted on her psychology. Many women suffer from PTSD after chronic abuse, but I was not explicit about exploring this in Recipes. In The Satanic Mechanic, I go deeper into Maria’s PTSD symptoms. I also show that there is a problematic aspect to her food-obsession (which in book one could have been interpreted merely as a passion for cooking).

The Bushman or San people feature in this book; one of their leaders is murdered and because of conflict over a number of land claims, there are a variety of culprits. What led you to the Bushmen and their tragic history?

The Karoo is filled with the spirit of the San (aka Bushmen: hunter-gatherers), their rock paintings, and their ancestors. I’ve had a long-time interest in San culture, and visited Bushman communities, and ancient Bushman sites in Southern Africa. They are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, and have been treated abominably by the territorial invaders that followed. In the central Kalahari (and other places too) they continue to do battle with government and businesses to maintain their rights to land, water, and hunter-gatherer existence. I believe their traditions and practices hold important political, environmental, and spiritual messages for us today.

Tannie Maria finds herself shadowed by a magnificent kudu bull. She realizes that it’s in her mind but it’s a metaphor for what’s going on around her. Spirits in animal form also feature in Bushman myth. What is the kudu saying to the reader?

That kudu bull I describe in my book is based on a beautiful creature that I came across on a number of early morning walks in the Karoo. In the soft light and the quiet, this was a sacred experience for me. He was so gentle, yet so strong. A peaceful, powerful beast.

I also enjoyed eating from the Kudu Stall at the Klein Karoo Arts Festival (the setting for the murder of the Bushman land rights activist), and I relate to the Bushman notion that you take in the properties of the animal you eat.

The reader will decide for themselves what the kudu means to them, but for me, it resonates with other messages in the book related to strength, gentleness and respect for the earth.

Interested in what Sally has to say about the satanic mechanic, Tannia Maria’s recipes, and the third book? Continue reading their interview here.

Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery

Book details

 

The Satanic Mechanic


» read article

Sunshine noir fans, get your monthly dosage of local thriller authors here…

Watch this space for news on the best thriller and crime fiction authors Africa has to offer.

BooksLIVE will be publishing pieces on local sunshine noir authors on a monthly basis, as featured in International Thrillers Writers’ “Africa Scene”. “Africa Scene” is the brainchild of South African thriller writer par excellence, Mike Nicol, and is available on the e-magazine, Big Thrill.

Mike Nicol

 height=

Michael Sears

 
Nicol initiated Africa Scene with a monthly “Newsletter from South Africa” covering local crime fiction and thrillers; author Michael Sears – who makes part of the duo Michael Stanley (with Stanley Trollip) renown for their Detective Kubu-series – took over from Nicol and broadened it to “Africa Scene”. Sears included pieces about African authors writing in other countries.

“The idea is really to showcase the excellent writers in the genre that we have here and generate more interest in Africa’s “sunshine noir” overseas,” says Sears of this new collaboration.

Intrigued? Read an excerpt from Sears’s recent interview with Nicol on his Barry Ronge Fiction Prize-longlisted Agents of the State which appeared in the Africa Scene-section of The Big Thrill:

Deon Meyer has said of Mike Nicol that his style is “by far the best in South Africa” and that he creates “deliciously complex characters.” The Pretoria News said of his previous book, Power Play, that it “proved once again that Nicol is a master of the genre.”

So when Nicol comes out with a new thriller, it’s always an event on the South African book scene. And his books are also enthusiastically received internationally, with Power Play making the Krimizeit top 10 in Germany, and being short listed for major thriller awards in Holland and France. If you like sunshine noir and haven’t read Nicol, you’re missing out.

In his latest book, Agents of the State, we meet again the lead characters in Of Cops & Robbers. There we wondered if the police and the crooks were actually on different sides. In the new book, we wonder if the agents of the state are the good guys or the bad guys. The answer is probably maybe. Nicol never has simplistic dividing lines.

Agents of the State is set in a dystopian South Africa with a “president for life” and all the trappings of the classic corrupt African dictatorship. Did you feel this extrapolation was needed to justify aspects of the story, or do you see South Africa as de facto there already?

I have to admit I’d never really thought of the background to Agents of the State as dystopian, especially if by that you mean repressive and unpleasant. Certainly, the book is set in a politically troubled time when the president is out of touch and paranoid, but for the rest, society is still a going concern: the hospitals function, the restaurants and shops are open, there are people in the streets, planes are landing at and taking off from the airports, kids are at school, there are sunbathers on the beaches, people meeting in the grand hotels for cocktails, the cellphone networks and the internet are up and running. However, there are some severely compromised government institutions, state security being one of those. But that this chaotic shadow world exists in parallel with the ordinary world seems to me a condition that has been present in most societies for centuries.

Indeed, the president fits the mold of the corrupt African dictator, which was a necessary condition of the story. As to whether South Africa is there already: no, I don’t think so. But that is not to say that we aren’t lurching about on the edge of totalitarianism what with the Secrecy Bill and the Hate Speech Bill, the rampant racism, let alone the audacious attempts by the president et al to “capture” various organs of state.

For some years now I’ve felt that the state – certainly what is referred to as the deep state, that combination of the intelligence services, the police, politicians, and organized crime – is where I should locate my crime fiction. It is where the most serious crime is being committed in this country. If the social aspect of crime fiction is about presenting society in extremis, then it seems to me that the espionage novel offers an opportunity to explore the underlying tensions in South Africa now. And there is a strong tradition in South African literature of opposition to and critique of the exigencies of our governments and leaders, again a territory ideally suited to the espionage novel.

Continue reading their interview here.

With names like Paige Nick, Leye Adenle, and Paul Mendelson to look forward to we expect each and every local thriller fan to shiver with antici…pation.

‘Til the 23rd of June!

Agents of the State

Book details

 

Of Cops and Robbers

 
 
 
 
Power Play


» read article

2017 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize Shortlist

After months of evaluation and deliberation it is finally time to reveal the shortlist for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The winner, who will receive R100 000, will be announced on Saturday June 24.

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize
In the five shortlisted books the judges highlighted writing of rare style and imagination, stories that chose the personal over the political, and themes that are fresh and provocative. “The words”, says chairperson Rehana Rossouw, “strike at the reader’s heart”.

The Printmaker, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (Umuzi)
Law-Viljoen’s quiet, finely calibrated novel is set in Johannesburg and centres on a reclusive printmaker named March, who makes his art obsessively – and alone – for decades. When he inherits the thdies a friendousands of drawings and etchings crammed into the house and through his work sets out to understand her troubled friend. “There’s not a superfluous word in it,” said one judge. “March is still living in my head.”

Period Pain, Kopano Matlwa (Jacana Media)
The wunderkind young author shows she has a long career ahead with this acute, powerful book. Masechaba is a young woman trying to find meaning in contemporary South Africa, a country wracked by social problems. “Where are we going,” it asks, “and what have we become?” “It’s a searing, brilliant read,” said a judge.

Little Suns, Zakes Mda (Umuzi)
“Zakes Mda is on song with this book,” exclaimed a judge, “it brings people from our past gorgeously to life.” It is 1903. A frail Malangana searches for his beloved Mthwakazi, the woman he had loved 20 years earlier and who he was forced to leave. Based on true events in history, it is a poignant story of how love and perseverance can transcend exile and strife.

The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso (Chatto & Windus)
In this story of two strong-willed women, Omotoso delicately traces the racial fault lines of the rainbow land. One of the women is black, the other white, and for decades the pair have lived next door to each other in an affluent estate in Cape Town. One day, an accident brings them together. “She doesn’t pretend to have the answers,” commented one judge, “but she forces us to examine our deeply embedded racism. It’s very clever and deeply human.”

The Safest Place You Know, Mark Winkler (Umuzi)
After his father’s violent death one day in the drought- stricken Free State, a young man leaves the derelict family farm with no plan. Two people he meets on his way to the Cape will change his life forever. The story is set in the 80s, before everything changes. “I was blown away by the magnificent writing,” said a judge, “the story went straight to my heart.”
 
View the 2017 longlist here.

The Printmaker

Book details

 

Period Pain

 
 

Little Suns

 
 

The Woman Next Door

 
 
 

The Safest Place You Know


» read article

Literary Crossroads with Imraan Coovadia (SA) & Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria)

Literary Crossroads is a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora to discuss trends, topics and themes prevalent in their literatures today. The series is curated by Indra Wussow and Sine Buthelezi.

The guest speakers for the upcoming talk (to take place on May 16) will be Imraan Coovadia and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. The discussion will be moderated by Danyela Dimakatso Demir.

About the guests:

Imraan Coovadia is a writer and director of the creative writing programme at UCT. His most recent novel is Tales of the Metric System (2014), which appeared in the US, South Africa, India, and Germany.

He is the author of The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012), winner of the M-Net Prize, and a collection of essays, “Transformations” (2012), which won the South African Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction. In 2010 his novel High Low In-between won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the University of Johannesburg prize. He has published a scholarly monograph with Palgrave, “Authority and Authorship in V.S. Naipaul” (2009), two earlier novels, and a number of journal articles. His fiction has been published in a number of countries, and he has written for many newspapers, journals, and magazines here and overseas, including the New York Times, N+1, Agni, the Times of India, and Threepenny Review.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a Nigerian writer and journalist. His debut collection of short stories The Whispering Trees was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2014, with the title story shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. His debut novel Season of Crimson Blossoms was published in the UK in May 2016 by Cassava Republic Press. Abubakar is a Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow (2013) and a Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2015). In 2014, Abubakar was named in the Hay Festival Africa39 list of the most promising writers under the age of 40 who will define future trends in African writing. Abubakar is the recipient of the 2016 Goethe-Institut & Sylt Foundation African Writer’s Residency Award. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Event Details

The Institute for Taxi Poetry

Book details

 
 
Tales of the Metric System

 
 
 

The Whispering Trees

 
 
 

Season of Crimson Blossoms


» read article

Shortlist for Short Sharp Stories Awards announced

The shortlist for the Short.Sharp.Stories Awards has been announced.

The Short.Sharp.Stories Awards is an annual short story competition made possible by the National Arts Festival.

This year’s theme is “Trade Secrets.”

The judges have focused in the main on how successfully the story speaks to the brief, and have chosen stories which showcase a range of South African ‘voices’.

Congratulations to the following writers whose stories will be included in Trade Secrets and who are on the short list for this year’s awards.

2017 Short Sharp Stories Awards shortlist:

Olufemi Agunbiade
Darrel Bristow-Bovey
Jumani Clarke
Linda Daniels
Frieda-Marie De Jager
Ntsika Gogwana
Amy Heydenrych
Mishka Hoosen
Bobby Jordan
Sean Mayne
Mapule Mohulatsi
Sally Anne Murray
Kamil Naicker
Sally Partridge
Pravasan Pillay
Megan Ross
Andrew Salomon
Stephen Symons
Philisiwe Twijnstra
Philip Vermaas
Michael Yee

Trade Secrets will be published in June/July.

One Midlife Crisis and a Speedo

Book details

 

Call it a Difficult Night

 
 
 

Sharp Edges

 
 
 

Tokoloshe Song

 
 
 

Questions for the Sea

 


» read article