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Be engaged, entertained and inspired – bookings now open for eighth Open Book Festival

Via Open Book

Be prepared to be engaged, inspired and entertained – the programme has been announced and ticket bookings are now open for the eighth Open Book Festival. The Festival takes place from 5 to 9 September and bookings can be made at www.webtickets.co.za.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival offers a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances, and more.

The festival also hosts the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica and various children’s and outreach programmes.

Venues for the event include the Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre, the A4 Arts Foundation, and The Book Lounge in Cape Town, and are all within walking distance of one another. Selected events will also take place outside the city centre, such as at Elsies River Library and Molo Mhlaba School.

“We have put together a programme that we hope will appeal to book lovers of all interests and ages,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “The stimulating conversations that arise from the panel discussions, both during and after the event, are what make the Festival unique. We are always grateful to the authors who are so generous with their time and to the audience members for their willingness to openly engage in debate.

“Thanks to the support of our partners such as the Canada Council of the Arts, the French Institute of South Africa, the Swedish Embassy, the University of Stellenbosch and the Embassy of Argentina, we are able to bring you leading international authors such as Guy Delisle (Hostage),graphic artist duo Icinori, Jonas Bonnier (The Helicopter Heist), Nicole Dennis Benn (Here Comes the Sun) and Mariana Enriquez (Things We Lost in the Fire). Other international guests will include authors such as Aminatta Forna, Lesley Arimah, graphic novelist Mariko Tamaki and Adam Smyer, whose debut novel Knucklehead is a refreshingly honest, fierce and intelligent read. All this, in addition to the more than 100 incredible South African authors that are joining our programme.”

In association with #cocreateSA and the Dutch Consulate General, #cocreatePOETICA hosts a varied programme of readings, performances, discussions and workshops showcasing poetry and the spoken word. Experience the work of Dutch writer, performer and theatre director Babs Gons and musician and songwriter Ivan Words, alongside the cream of South African talent and celebrated spoken word organisations such as InZync, Lingua Franca, Grounding Sessions and Rioters in Session.

Open Book Festival once again teams up with the African Centre for Cities to present a number of events exploring urban issues. Inspired by the collection Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth, a series of Feminism Is talks will interrogate ideas of feminism, gender, patriarchy, sexual health and ownership of the body.

The Festival has become known for its focus on political and societal topics, and events will include discussions around the 2019 elections, a look at if our laws hinder or help us and the future of the media.

There’s also a strong recurring theme in the programme around loss, memory and personal transitions. Various events will give us a window into the authors’ worlds of writing and creating characters dealing with death and capturing the author’s own personal changes in their lives.

The fun-filled Writersports is a firm fixture on the Festival calendar and this year challenges writers with their Cringe Factor: Behind every success are 100 embarrassing failures!

The popular Comics Fest takes place on 8 and 9 September with the return of the Monster Battle Draw off, live drawings workshops, discussions and demonstrations, as well as a host of exciting exhibitors in the Comics Fest Marketplace. Don’t miss Dusanka Stojakovic of New Africa Books talking about what she is looking for in order to publish a comic book.

Younger visitors will feel welcomed at the Festival with a range of exciting activities including storytime at Central Library, Origami Demo Sessions and a workshop for teens to Create Your Own Character.

Longstanding partners Leopard’s Leap Wines will be hosting their wonderful #WordsforWine. Bring a pre-loved or new book to exchange for a glass of Leopard’s Leap wine. Books will be donated the Open Book Library Project and other charities.They’ll also be announcing the winner of their innovative #MessageonaBottle competition.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of the most innovative literature festivals in South Africa. It has twice been shortlisted for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s record 140 events, with ticket sales from previous years surpassed in the first two days. Open Book Festival is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill a love of reading among young attendees, with the programme designed to create conversations among festival goers long after the event.

The 2018 programme is now available at www.openbookfestival.co.za.

READ Educational Trust celebrates Mandela and his pursuit of literacy

On behalf of READ Educational Trust

As we look back on the month of July, in South Africa a month synonymous with the late Nelson Mandela, who was born on 18 July 1918, we reflect on this particular year, which marks his 100th birthday.

‘Madiba Month’ generated a phenomenal amount of goodwill, with individuals and businesses around the country paying it forward, donating 67 minutes of their time to creating a better South Africa.

A beautiful quotation by this great man is truly at the heart of READ Educational Trust’s quest of literacy for all South Africans: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

In that same spirit, READ celebrated Madiba Week by visiting Lawley Primary School in Lenasia, Gauteng. Over 50 foundation phase learners were extremely excited to experience our Pop-Up Library. When Mrs Book, a.k.a. Lindiwe Mthembu lit up the room with her animated story-telling skills, the children’s mouths dropped open with delight!

Mrs Book, a.k.a. Lindiwe Mthembu lit up the room at Lawley Primary School in Lenasia, with her animated story-telling skills

 
The little ones loved browsing through the book selection in our Pop-Up Library and couldn’t believe their eyes when they received a donation of books from READ, for their own school library! The Father of our Nation was surely smiling down at South Africans honouring his legacy!

For more information about the READ Educational Trust visit www.read.org.za.

Join the conversations on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/READEduTrust
Twitter: www.twitter.com/READEduTrust
Instagram: www.instagram.com/read_educational_trust

Book Bites: 29 July

Published in the Sunday Times

Divided CountryDivided Country: The History of South African Cricket Retold 1914-1950s
****
André Odendaal, Krish Reddy and Christopher Merrett, BestRed, R295

Two years ago the first volume of a virtual lifetime’s work for the authors came into being. Cricket and Conquest began the retelling of South Africa’s cricket history, a saga misrepresented and distorted over more than 200 years since the game’s arrival in 1795. Now the second volume is here and the next two, Batting for Freedom (the 1950s to 2016) and Correcting the Record, cannot be far off. Divided Country is as impressive as its companion volume, continuing to correct a history that previously was written as a white man’s game. It follows the history of South Africa from union, when black people were all but written out of the constitution, to apartheid and the division of cricket into seven “South Africas” along the lines of the segregated state. It is also the story of the women’s game, a neglected aspect too. Archie Henderson

The Testament of Loki
****
Joanne Harris, Orion, R285

This follows on where The Gospel of Loki ended – Ragnarok has come to pass and the kingdom of Asgard has fallen. Loki, the charismatic trickster god who started all the trouble, finds himself imprisoned in the netherworld. But no prison can hold the god of mischief for long and Loki escapes into a realm where people still dream of the Norse gods. He follows the trail and finds himself inside a video game where the characters are all too familiar. The transition from being a dreamy retelling of Norse legends to urban fantasy is expertly done and Loki comes across as completely at home in the modern world. A highly entertaining romp filled with pop-culture references and old lore. Sally Partridge @sapartridge

The Man Who Didn't CallThe Man Who Didn’t Call
****
Rosie Walsh, Mantle, R290

It’s aptly called Ghosted in the US. Ghosted means cutting off contact with someone, ignoring all messages and phone calls, and the clincher: not providing a reason. This happens to Sarah. She meets Eddie. They fall in love and then he goes on holiday. He never contacts her again and she is convinced something must have happened to him. But what if her friends are right: he is not interested. Her search leads her to resolve a terrible incident in her past. The Man Who Didn’t Call is a refreshing mystery/romance. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt
 

Book details

  • Divided Country: The History of South African Cricket Retold 1914-1960 by André Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett
    EAN: 9781928246169
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

As gripping as it gets: Michele Magwood reviews Belinda Bauer’s Man Booker Prize-longlisted thriller, Snap

Published in the Sunday Times


Snap
****
Belinda Bauer, Penguin Random House, R290

Belinda Bauer is an exceptional thriller writer. Her books are low on gore and high on psychology and what sets her apart from other suspense or domestic noir writers is that in each book she introduces a fascinating syndrome or set of beliefs. In Rubbernecker, for instance,she explores the condition of autism and in The Shut Eye she tackles the subject of psychics.

In her latest, eagerly awaited novel Snap she takes the reader into the world of hoarding. As always, it adds another dimension to a typically enthralling storyline.

In the opening chapter three children are waiting in a broken-down car on the edge of a busy road in Somerset. Their mother has gone to find a telephone and has not come back. Hungry and thirsty, they decide to go looking for her, only to find a receiver hanging off the hook in a phone box. She will never return.

The story jumps ahead three years and we meet Catherine While, who is expecting her first child. Her husband is away and she is convinced she hears someone in the house. When she wakes up she finds a knife next to her bed and a note saying, “I could have killed you.”

Bauer switches back and forth between the abandoned children as they try to survive, hiding from social services staff, whom they know will split them up, and Catherine as she lives in increasing fear. Add in a splendidly splenetic cop in the form of DI Marvel and two comic sidekicks, and all the elements are in place for an original, utterly gripping story. @michelemagwood

Snap has been nominated for the Man Booker prize.

Book details

“Writing this book was painful, but enlightening.” Carol Gibbs on All Things Bright and Broken

Published in the Sunday Times

Writing this book was painful, but enlightening; a journey of self-discovery. When my mother died I had an emotional breakdown, and then I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. I realised the fragility of life and I decided to write. My inspiration has been largely my own despair, a desire to explore family dynamics and understand myself and my parents and siblings on a deeper level. To heal.

Despite this, All Things Bright and Broken is not a sad book. Seen through the eyes of a child, there is lots of unintentional humour. Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes also inspired me. His childhood in the slums of Ireland was different, but there were parallels. I had to face my buried monsters and the dissociation and false self built to cope with the harshness of childhood. It has taken courage to visit those dark places in my mind.

I knew this would be the ultimate journey of self-discovery and so I delved deeper into psychology. I devoured every self-help book I could find. I hope the book resonates with readers, even if it is only discovering gratitude at not having spent a childhood crippled by adverse circumstances.

My first attempts were prosaic and boring. One morning when reviewing the previous day’s longhand scribbling, I read: He sat on the windowsill, framed by the Dorothy Perkins roses … That was the turning point. It may sound ordinary, but to me it was like discovering colour when I had previously only used black and white. Something changed in me. I started writing with a different eye. Everything came alive and flowed with a new rhythm. No one was more surprised than I was. I wondered where this had come from and then I remembered my father’s fascination with language, both English and Afrikaans. He carried a notebook with him at all times, filled with phrases from newspapers and magazines.

But technically I was still in the dark ages. Changing from longhand to computer was a huge challenge. It has taken 20 years to see this book grow from baby steps to the final published product. Some days I ended up in floods of tears – I battled with revealing family secrets and sharing my innermost feelings with the world.

But laughter saved me, and one incident comes to mind. My first version of the story was titled White Boots and Tuppenny Cakes. Having lunch in Kalk Bay, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at the next table. He enquired about my writing and we swopped e-mail addresses. I received an e-mail enthusiastically enquiring about White Boobs and Tupperry Cakes. It kept me amused for weeks.

Book details

“This book comes out of [my feelings about the fallist movement] but also out of the desire to escape from it.” Imraan Coovadia on his new novel, A Spy in Time

Published in the Sunday Times


For Imraan Coovadia, the science-fiction genre provides an opportunity to think about race differently. Picture: Alon Skuy.

A Spy in Time
****
Imraan Coovadia, Umuzi, R260

Over the last four years since the publication of his previous novel, Tales of the Metric System, Imraan Coovadia has been watching, with scepticism and dismay, the events playing out on the campus of the University of Cape Town, where he heads the creative writing programme.

In Johannesburg last week he admitted that perhaps the disruptions and racial anger that spilt from the Rhodes Must Fall protests into the Fees Must Fall protests provided the impetus for his new novel, a time-travelling, spy-thriller science fiction tale with an Afrofuturist infusion.

He says the book – a departure for a novelist whose previous work employed a more social realist approach to issues of history, race and identity over the course of South Africa’s journey from the indignities of apartheid to the tensions of the democratic era – “comes out of [my feelings about the fallist movement] but also out of the desire to escape from it. Most things South Africans do are simultaneously super-South African and also part of a desire to escape from South Africa and its narrow problems completely.”

In Coovadia’s version of the future the world has been destroyed by a supernova, leaving only Johannesburg, with its deep mining tunnels as the sole surviving city where an agency run by robots sends members of the predominantly black surviving human race back in time to ensure that the end of the world will never be repeated.

The hero is novice agent Enver Eleven, whose journey takes him backwards and forwards in time from Marrakesh in 1955 to Brazil in 1967 and the surface of Jupiter many thousands of years in the future. In this world white people, while not part of the present, are firmly part of the past and so agents such as Enver must learn how to interact with and protect himself in a world once predominantly controlled by whites.

Coovadia sees the science-fiction genre as a useful means to “maybe think about race differently or take other more imaginative angles towards it”.

Enver’s journey provides him with an opportunity to explore the idea that, as Coovadia puts it, “beneath race we’re controlled by quite elemental qualities of who’s familiar, who’s strange to us, who’s a friend, who’s an enemy, who’s superior, who’s subordinate. I think part of this [book] is an attempt to look at those feelings and say irrespective of where you stand in the system, how do those feelings work on you and how do they propel you to do certain things?”

Unlike many time-travelling tales which focus on how small changes to the past can have drastic consequences for the future, here even the smallest of changes to the narrative of the past are frowned upon because, as Coovadia says, “the agency in this book hates the idea that there could be multiple universes because that would create extra human suffering … and so their entire philosophy and culture is devoted to suppressing butterfly effects”.

Acknowledging the influence of the classic adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, Coovadia sees this book, ironically in the light of its time-travel narrative, as his best attempt at telling a “story that unfolded naturally without being overladen with sense impressions and the things I’m usually interested in. It’s a book written almost entirely without flashbacks, in which the story goes from A to B to C to D.”

Enver Eleven’s adventure is a solid, well-told science-fiction story that, like the best examples of the genre, offers imaginative and intelligent contemplation of where we might end up, while also providing a space for the contemplation of where we are now and how we got here. It’s perhaps best understood as Coovadia’s response to the idea of eternal recurrence posited by Friedrich Nietzsche, which asks if you could imagine reliving your life, would you do so in exactly the same way.

For Coovadia: “That’s one thing when you say it for an individual person but what about for history and for African history, which is full of disasters and catastrophes?”

Book details

“Storytelling is a powerful communication tool for social cohesion, recording history and development” – a Q&A with Zimbabwean protest poet and playwright, Bhekumusa Moyo

By Carla Lever

Bhekumusa Moyo, Zimbabwean protest poet and playwright

 

What role do you think storytelling – in communities, families or even individually – can have in creating social change?

Storytelling is a powerful communication tool for social cohesion, recording history and development. It can inspire change or incite a people to act on a social issue. Our personal stories are also a source of energy. Each story told has the potential for inspiring the next person. The experiences we go through can be used as a learning tool by those who haven’t experienced those things. I derive my own personal mojo from stories of key pioneers of pan-Africanism.

Tell us a little about your own experience with writing and performing in Zimbabwe.

Writing and performing in Zimbabwe is a life-changing experience. It certainly has its ugly phases – the darkest corners being draconian laws inherited from colonial Rhodesia. The laws that make the lives of critical and protest artists like me hell are the Public Order Security Act and the censorship board. These have curtailed any work which challenges those in power. Minus these challenges of arrest, persecution and banning, though, Zimbabwean audiences are supportive of art that speaks truth to power.

Which of your works are you most proud of having written?

I am proud of 1983-The Dark Years. This is a politically charged play on the Gukurahundi genocide which swept Matabeleland from 1980 through to 1987, leaving a trail of sorrow and deaths numbering around 20 000. The play was banned in 2010 but, with support from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, we managed to stage it in various places. This year, after Mugabe, the play had a week of full houses at Theatre in the Park in Harare. I’m also proud of one of my poems called They Shall All Fall. This poem speaks of how people will dethrone dictators no matter how strong they are. Here’s an extract – “All that flies lands sometime / one by one in no particular order / they shall all fall.”

What language(s) do you use to write and perform in? Do you think choice of language is a political act for artists?

I write in Ndebele and English. Ndebele is my mother language. I will not stray far from it, as it carries rich idioms, proverbs and expressions of my people. Even when I perform, I juggle English and Ndebele. Language is a political act. My English must have deep roots to the imagery of my community so that I don’t struggle. Language, like culture, carries the essence of the peoples’ struggles. Language is the heartbeat of a community and yes, it’s a political tool too for engagement or disengagement.

There are many ways of protesting. Using literature – both written and oral – has a long and powerful tradition in Africa. Who are some of the protest writers who have inspired you?

I am greatly inspired by Athol Fugard, Professor Chinua Achebe, Christopher Mlalazi and the general struggles of my people, especially the women and mothers of my village who always show resilience even in the face of travesty.

Have you ever found it difficult to be a politically active writer in Zimbabwe?

Yes, Zimbabwe has very draconian laws, as I alluded to earlier. The censorship board is the biggest culprit – a club of old men who make it difficult to be politically active as a writer.

Of course, the elections are coming up very soon in Zimbabwe. What role do you think writers – whether they are poets, singers or journalists – play in this important time?

Chinua Achebe says that ‘writers give headaches.’ I feel it is important for artists at this time to inspire debate on the elections and comment strongly on institutions and individuals who can make or break the election. Artists must motivate citizens to vote, inspire peace as well as play the watchdog role and whistleblowers in cases of human rights abuses.

What kinds of opportunities would you like to see for African writers and storytellers in the future?

I am hoping that universities will embrace storytelling as a medium of passing on information. This can be done in formal learning spaces or creating festivals within academic years for African writers to bring their wisdom. I’d also love to see more writing residencies and literature festivals for different language activists. Storytellers must be brought to the table as much as other professionals to educate and speak openly on issues of social change.

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.

 

 

The SA Book Fair returns with a stellar programme showcasing 120 authors

Released on behalf of the South African Book Fair by OnPoint PR (Johannesburg)

The 2018 South African Book Fair, which will run from 7 to 9 September at Johannesburg’s Newtown Cultural Precinct, will present a diverse programme of topics and activities for visitors from all walks of life.

The three-day programme of events, just released, is brimming with things to do and see for everyone from pre-schoolers to the most dedicated book lovers, including a vault of books with industry experts showcasing books that entertain, educate, empower, inform and advance. No-one is left out, as the South African Library for the Blind showcase tactile books, promoting a positive reading experience for the blind and visually impaired.

Celebrating #OURSTORIES on the page, mic and stage, the 2018 Book Fair also promises a feast for lovers of the spoken word as a giant of the South African literary world will be honoured. The late Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, affectionately known as Bra Willie, will be celebrated through intergenerational voices in indigenous languages, a commissioned tribute poem and more.

The inaugural Keorapetse Kgositsile Poetry Café at the SABF will feature some of the most recognised names in the realm of spoken word.

The Book Fair, as part of the National Book Week campaign which runs 3-9 September 2018, kicks off with an exciting Schools Programme, where learners, librarians, teachers, caregivers and parents will be treated to a delectable offering of storytelling in the vernac, The Little Prince and other theatre productions, and a host of activities in The National Book Week Magic Tent.

The literary programme runs from Saturday to Sunday with an exciting line-up – from panel discussions with leading movers and shakers to a Philosophy Café, facilitated by prominent thought leaders, and sessions dealing with some of the most pressing social, economic and political issues facing our country today.

Meet Mandy Wiener, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Ralph Mathekga, Christi van der Westhuizen, Mpho Dagada, Dudu Busani-Dube, Jan-Jan Joubert, David Higgs and more.

The Fair also features a wealth of experts from the publishing industry who’ll be ready to assist with learning and support materials, the best research and non-fiction books from the university presses and SMME publishers from all provinces.

The South African Book Fair, which is a relative newcomer on the local arts and culture scene, lists some highlights of their offering:

  • #OURSTORIES Storytelling Festival where stories of past and current times will be told, shared and sung.
  • African Superheroes, where young authors such as Loyiso Mkize, Bontle Senne, Clyde Beech and Benoit Knox will take the audience into the world of graphic novels.
  • African Philosophy Café, where Prof. Gilbert Khadiagala and Prof. Adekeye Adebajo will discuss the tale of two hegemons: SA and Nigeria in Africa.
  • In Original Sin, panellists such as Adv. Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Dr. Nomkhosi Xulu-Gama and Dr. Marek Hanusch will explore the complex issue of land disposession in South Africa.
  • A Celebration of Giants remembers the timeless contributions of Albertina Sisulu and Nelson Mandela as the country celebrates their centenaries.
  • Skin Deep with Rosie Motene, Sarah-Jayne King and Thuli Nhlapo looks at adoption across racial lines.
  • Writers Are Our Conscience explores how writers and readers influence society. Do writers steer the course of a country’s socio-political passage? Dr. Sindiwe Magona, Siphiwo Mahala, Melinda Ferguson, Antjie Krog, Maishe Maponya, Peter Harris and many more will unpack this topic.
  • Step Into My Womanhood is where diverse woman authors such as Malebo Sephodi, B Camminga, Anne Dahlqvist and Melanie Judge will discuss their expressions of womanness.
  • Exposed! South Africa’s Hidden Web of Crime will feature three journalists; Mandy Wiener, Anneliese Burgess and Pieter-Louis Myburgh; who will give unprecedented insights into political and underworld figures, as well as exposing how these criminal networks have infiltrated the South African enforcement authorities and agencies.
  • Bus Tour: Hop On, Hop Off will explore Johannesburg’s uneasy relationship with its past and future. Three local authors; Terry Shakinovsky, Harriet Perlman and Nechama Brodie; will take audiences on a journey through the city’s historical, political, cultural and culinary sites, as depicted in their writings.
  • A production of The Little Prince will be performed by the Market Theatre Foundation’s brand new theatre company, Kwasha! This performance will be a magical re-telling of the book, mixing storytelling and circus in multiple languages to create a unique South African inspired production of this French masterpiece, for adults and children alike.

The full programme for the 2018 South African Book Fair, which is the final event on the National Book Week calendar, can be accessed at www.southafricanbookfair.co.za. Booking is essential and tickets for all sessions are priced at R40 and are available through WebTickets at https://www.webtickets.co.za/EventCategories.aspx?itemid=1482084984. Entry into the exhibition, poetry performances, the storytelling festival and the Family Zone will be free of charge.

The South African Book Fair (SABF), is presented by the South African Book Development Council, in proud association with the Fibre, Processing and Manufacturing SETA (FP&M)

For further information about the South African Book Fair, please visit:
Website: www.southafricanbookfair.co.za
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthAfricanBookFair
Twitter: @SABookFair
Instagram: @sabookfair

About the South African Book Fair
The South African Book Fair (SABF) is held under the auspices of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) and is the culminating event of the annual National Book Week. Comprising a dedicated children’s day, a book exhibition, a literary festival, it provides a unique opportunity for engagement with writers, publishers and thought leaders, as well as an excellent platform for trade and promotion.

The SABF aims to:

  • Engage children of all ages in the joy of reading;
  • Present a lively and engaging literary festival;
  • Provide a platform for untold stories to be told;
  • Facilitate robust engagement on a range of topical issues;
  • Showcase books, publishers, authors, booksellers and related industries;
  • Forge and promote partnerships across the book publishing and bookselling industries, both locally and throughout Africa
  • Provide a channel for SMME development; and
  • Facilitate skills and enterprise development across the entire book industry value chain.

About the South African Book Development Council
The South African Book Development Council (SABDC), formerly known as the Print Industries Cluster Council (PICC), is the representative body for the South African book publishing industry. Its members include all key stakeholders in the book publishing and bookselling value chain. Further information about the Council and its work is available at http://sabookcouncil.co.za.

About National Book Week
National Book Week is the largest national reading awareness campaign, which kicked off in 2010 as an intervention campaign in response to the 2007 study by the SABDC, whose findings showed that only 14% of the South African population are avid readers of leisure books and that 5% of the population reads to their children. Now in its ninth year, National Book Week will be celebrated across all nine provinces from 3-9 September 2018.

Authentic characters and arresting imagery make Rhiannon Navin’s Only Child a must-read that doesn’t moralise about gun control, writes Anna Stroud

Published in the Sunday Times

Only Child
*****
Rhiannon Navin, Mantle, R285

Five years ago Rhiannon Navin dropped her six-year-old son at school on the same day that a 20-year-old gunman marched into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 20 children and six adults. Since that day she has worried about her children’s safety.

Three years later she found her younger son hiding from the “bad guy” under the dining-room table. He and his twin brother had just entered kindergarten when they had their first lockdown drill.

“I began writing Only Child because I needed an outlet for the fear I felt for my children. It is the first story I ever wrote and I didn’t expect anyone would read it, let alone that it would be published,” Navin says of her debut novel.

The book’s release in the US coincided with the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington DC on March 24 2018. The Washington Post reported that over two million people protested against America’s gun policy in response to the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people were killed by a former student.

“It breaks my heart that my children grow up experiencing such acute fear in their lives. But on the issue of gun violence, I feel a glimmer of hope for the first time,” Navin says.

She took her eldest son to attend the protest and says she’s in awe of the young leaders.

“They are fed up with feeling unsafe at school and on the streets and they are going to fight like hell for change.”

Only Child tells the story of six-year-old narrator Zach who hides in a school closet during a shooting. The story unfolds as he tries to piece his world back together in the aftermath of devastating events. His family comes undone, and he retreats into a world of books and art to cope with the trauma. One of the ways he learns to deal with his emotions is by painting his feelings onto different pages to try to make sense of them.

“Once Zach discovers that he can separate his feelings instead of having them all mixed up they seem more manageable, easier to tackle one by one. He is able to do something adults cannot: understand that every feeling is important and valid,” Navin explains.

Zach also reads the Magic Tree House books in which two characters go on adventures in search of the secrets of happiness. Zach tries to use these secrets to mend his family, but their grief keeps them from hearing what he has to say.

“If we listen to our children and let them guide us for a change, I think there might be a chance for a safer, more just world,” Navin says.

Authentic characters and arresting imagery make Only Child a must-read that doesn’t moralise about gun control.

“I strongly believe people are best convinced by reasons they discover themselves. My hope for my book is that it will find the people it is meant to find.” Anna Stroud @annawriter_

Book details

Cape Town Poetry Slam returns to the Mother City in 2018

This year in another collaboration between InZync Poetry, the Stellenbosch University Museum, the Bellville Public Library, Cape Town Central Library, the Fugard Theatre and Open Book Festival, the Cape Town Poetry Slam returns to Cape Town, with three prelim slams and a final slam at the Fugard Theatre on 8 September.

In 2018 we are looking for the second Cape Town Poetry Slam Champion! There will be three prelim slams, one in Stellenbosch, the second in Bellville and the third in Cape Town.

The top three poets from each of the prelims will move onto the second round, which is the final, at the Fugard Theatre in collaboration with the Open Book Festival, and the poets will battle it out for the title of Cape Town’s Poetry Slam Champion!

All of the prelims and the final will be hosted by amazing local poets such as Allison-Claire Hoskins, Roché Kester, Samora Magwa, Quaz Roodt and there will be live beats by DJ Deco.

The judges for this year’s slam are Cape Town rapper Jitsvinger, poetry slam champion, writer and performer Siphokazi Jonas and Lingua Franca spoken word movement director Mbongeni Nomkonwana. The final will also include a short performance by each of the judges.

MCs and judges at Cape Town Poetry Slam 2017

 
There are lots of prizes up for grabs for the winners of the prelims and the final, all to the value of R14 200. Cape Town’s Poetry Slam Champion will walk away with R2 500 in cash, a R500 Book Lounge voucher and a video poem to be produced by InZync!

The winners of each prelim will also participate in a workshop to prepare them to battle it out for the title of Cape Town’s Poetry Slam Champion. Budding poets can sign up on the day of each prelim, it is first come first serve, with a maximum of 25 sign ups per prelim.

The details of the three prelim slams are as follows:

Prelim 1: 11 August – Stellenbosch University Museum, 13:00
Prelim 2: 18 August – Bellville Public Library, 13:00
Prelim 3: 25 August – Cape Town Central Library, 13:00

The final is on 8 September at the Fugard Theatre at 20:00.

Tickets will be on sale for R50. Bookings will be open from early August and can be made at Webtickets.

For more details check out the InZync Poetry Sessions social media platforms:
Facebook – InZync Poetry Sessions, Instagram – @inzync_poetry, Twitter – @InZyncPoetry

About InZync Poetry

InZync Poetry is a Non-Profit Organization based in the Western Cape dedicated to the expansion of multilingual and multimodal poetry platforms in the Cape.

Our founders are Adrian ‘Diff’ van Wyk and Pieter Odendaal and together our team run poetry workshops with emerging poets called the INKredibles, and host poetry shows. In 2016 InZync collaborated with Koleka Putuma to create a video for her poem ‘Water’ and released an EP of poems called InterVerse. In 2017 InZync Poetry hosted the Cape Town Poetry Slam, and in 2018, we published the multilingual poetry anthology ConVerse in collaboration with Woordfees.

InZync has collaborated with many local and international poets to bring multilingual poetry to Cape audiences.