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The Short Story is Dead (vol 3) Shortlist is Announced!

BLM LogoAfter much deliberation, we present you with the shortlisted stories for the 3rd volume of our annual anthology of short fiction, The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story.

As with our previous instalments of The Short Story is Dead, we have had the pleasure of engaging with the promising work of some of the emergent writers from the continent; all the stories to be published in this year’s volume reaffirm our belief in the necessity of affording young African writers an opportunity to add their own voices to the ever cacophonous debates that seek to question our present and future.

The following stories have been shortlisted:

 

Rudo by Eliza Mabuza (South Africa)

The Scent of Living Wills by Michel Tumuhimbise (Uganda)

Tanganyika ABCs by Tina Chiwashira (Zimbabwe)

Petrichor by Osemegbe Aito (Nigeria)

Firewater by Mary Ononokpono (Nigeria)

Eye Color by Mwikali Mutune (Kenya)

 

Thank you very much to everyone who entered and congratulations to all the writers who made the shortlist – the range of themes and overall quality of the entries continues to greatly impress us.

The winners will be announced at a launch of The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story (Vol. 3) in late 2017. We will announce the date soon. The winning short story will receive R5 000, and the second and third runner-up stories will receive R1 500 and R500 respectively.

 

Attend the announcement of the winners of the Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature 2017

Africa's war on poaching spills over into new Tony Park novel

SPONSORED

Author Tony Park has once more drawn on his real-life experiences in Africa and his background as a former army officer to bring a real-life “wildlife war” to the pages of his 14th novel, The Cull.

In the book, former mercenary Sonja Kurtz is hired by business tycoon Julianne Clyde-Smith to head an elite squad. Their aim: to take down Africa’s top poaching kingpins and stop at nothing to save its endangered wildlife.

But, as the body count rises, it becomes harder for Sonja to stay under the radar and she is targeted by an underworld syndicate known as The Scorpions.

When her love interest, safari guide and private investigator Hudson Brand, is employed to look into the death of an alleged poacher at the hands of Sonja’s team, she is forced to ask herself if Julianne’s crusade has gone too far.

From South Africa’s Kruger National Park to the Serengeti of Tanzania, Sonja realises she is fighting a war on numerous fronts, against enemies known and unknown.
 
 
Personal experience
Park has personally encountered Africa’s war on poaching and the people fighting it.

“I live half of each year in Africa and, near my house, on the border of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, there is a war being fought daily between anti-poaching units and heavily armed poachers hunting endangered rhinos,” he says.

“Elements of The Cull are based on reality. Ex-soldiers, like the fictitious Sonja Kurtz, some of them foreign veterans of the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, are currently working in Africa training and mentoring anti-poaching operatives in this wildlife war.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Park was born in 1964 and grew up in Sydney. He has worked as a reporter, a press secretary, a PR consultant and a freelance writer. He is also a major in the Australian Army Reserve and served as a public affairs officer in Afghanistan in 2002. He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time between Australia and Southern Africa.

Park, who served with the Australian army in Afghanistan, visited all-female anti-poaching unit the Black Mambas near the Kruger park. The Mambas, all members of the community near the reserve, provided the inspiration for an all-woman unit in The Cull called The Leopards.

The author is also a volunteer with an international NGO, Veterans for Wildlife, which pairs military veterans with anti-poaching units and conservation programmes in Africa.

Just like Sonja Kurtz, real-life female soldiers who have served in the Middle East are supporting anti-poaching efforts by passing on their expertise. One of the challenges facing the Black Mambas is to break down stereotypes in what has traditionally been a male-dominated profession.

Park said the job of protecting wildlife was a high-risk, high-stakes business, with rhino horn now worth more than gold, diamonds or cocaine. It’s a life-and-death struggle for humans as well as animals.

“About 500 armed poachers have been killed in South Africa over the past 10 years in this ongoing battle. Every day, national park rangers, police and military take to the African bush and put their lives on the line in defence of the environment. It’s inspirational stuff,” he added.

Book details

Read an excerpt from the third book in Bontle Senne's Afrocentric fantasy adventure, Shadow Chasers

Only the Shadow Chasers, with their magical knives, can save the world from the evil that lives in the dreamworld.

“Scary riveting fun! Escape in this magical and modern South African fantasy.” – Nonikiwe Mashologu, childhood literacy specialist

“I love the book because it’s scary and cool. Nom is a very brave girl.” – Gugulethu Machin, tweeny reader

Flame of Truth is the third in the Shadow Chasers series, an Afrocentric fantasy adventure for pre-teens (9 to 12 year olds.)

Bontle Senne is a book blogger and literacy advocate. She is a former managing director at the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation, a trustee of READ Educational Trust and a part owner of feminist trade publishing house Modjaji Books.
 
 
Read an excerpt from Bontle’s extraordinary book:

They hear the piercing scream of the Lightning Bird as another ball of flames falls from the dark sky and explodes on the patch of sand at the cave opening.

Nom and Zithembe lie on their bellies in the dirt, trying to stay low in the shadows so that the Lightning Bird does not come into the cave to find them.

“Nom, when we get out of here … ,” Zithembe whispers bitterly, pressing his cheek to the ground so he can look at Nom and she can see how annoyed he is.

Nom rolls her eyes and shifts her attention to the cave opening. She can’t hear the Lightning Bird, but that doesn’t mean it’s not waiting for them just outside the cave, ready to drop another ball of fire. “There was no way I could have known that it was going to come all the way up to the mountains,” Nom says. “I thought these things stayed in the forest!”

“Who told you that?” Zithembe snaps.

“Rosy! Well, kind of Rosy. I think that’s what she said …” Nom thinks back to a few weeks ago when she and Rosy, Zithembe’s cousin, had come into the dreamworld and were chased by the Lightning Bird. The giant black bird had flown over them, circling, stalking. With its long, curved beak, shaggy chest feathers, two sets of wings, and two long, orange legs, it had terrified her and brought back Rosy’s darkest memories.

Now, when Nom reaches out and her hand finds the cave wall, the stone feels cool and wet. She feels the magic of the dreamworld buzzing lightly through the tips of her fingers. It’s the same feeling she sometimes gets when she holds her knife. A Shadow Chaser’s knife has powers that she and Zithembe are only just starting to understand.

“We could go back,” she suggests, already guessing what Zithembe will think of that idea. Zithembe groans as a clap of thunder booms from outside the cave.

“We cannot just go back,” he says. “We have to find my mother. How can we find her if we go back?”

“Zee, we’re not going to be able to get out of here without getting roasted. We can use the special powers in your knife to get home, and then try another night. We can come back in a few days with – I don’t know – a plan or something.”

It is weird for Nom to suddenly be the one with a plan. She’s never really been known for thinking things through. They got stuck here in this cave because when Nom saw the Lightning Bird she turned and ran before Zithembe could even ask what was going on. They had scrambled further up the mountain they were exploring. Then Nom dragged Zithembe into the cave just as the balls of fire began to rain down on them, burning holes the size of soccer balls into the sand. Nom had been right to be afraid, but she could have at least warned him before she started running.
It was so often “act and then think” with her. At least Zithembe had finally gotten used to that.

“I have a better idea,” Zithembe says. “You should use your knife to turn yourself into a Lightning Bird.”

“What?” Nom asks, even though she’s pretty sure she heard him.

“You should turn yourself into a Lightning Bird,” Zithembe repeats, replaying what his mother had told him about the power of Nom’s blue knife to change her into someone – or something – else. “I’ll jump on your back and we can fly out of here and into the forest.”

If they weren’t trapped, crawling on their stomachs in the dark, Nom would punch Zithembe. “But the forest is where it lives!” she says, feeling deeply frustrated.

Nom remembers the forest from her visit to the dreamworld with Rosy, when they fought the Mami Wata.

She remembers the muffled sounds of moans, crying and wild giggling drifting out to them from inside the dark and unknowable Thathe Vondo Forest. Rosy had explained that the forest exists in the real world and the dreamworld at the same time. In the real world, the people who live near the forest believe that it is full of spirits and monsters. In the real world, the people are just as afraid of the Lightning Bird which they call Ndadzi, as Nom is, here in the dreamworld.

“OK, then we fly to the Clearing or to the Lake of Memories,” Zithembe suggests.

Being annoyed isn’t helping, so Nom sighs and tries to be kind instead.

She says, “Zee, listen to me. There are soldiers of the Army of Shadows everywhere. Even now, the shadow men must be marching towards us. Your knife’s power can get us out of here safely. I know you want to find your mom. I want to find her too, Zee, but not today …”

They are quiet for a few minutes.

Nom isn’t sure whether Zithembe is still trying to think of ways to get out of this cave and keep exploring the dreamworld or whether he is trying to accept the truth in her words. As she waits for him to speak again, Nom sees a cloud of pale orange dust float into the cave.

The dust cloud stops just in front of them, blocking their view of the cave’s opening, and then drifts down low to the ground where they lie.

“Nom … Zithembe,” says the soft, faraway voice of a girl.

Zithembe twists his head to look at the floating dust and then back at Nom.

“Did that dust thing just speak?” Nom asks, saying out loud what both of them are thinking.

“I have a deal for you,” whispers the dust. “Help me rescue my friend fromthe Army of Shadows and I will help you find Itumeleng.”

Itumeleng. Zee’s mother.

“Who – or what – are you? Why should we believe you?” Zithembe asks.

There’s a trace of anger dripping into his voice. He wants to save his mother, but how can he trust a floating cloud of dust? Any of the magical things in the dreamworld could trick him into trapping himself or Nom here.

Book details

2017 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro

The prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the renowned British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Ishiguro has received widespread acclaim for his novels Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant.

Read Michele Magwood’s interview with Ishiguro on the Buried Giant here and listen to her 2015 interview with Ishiguro here:

Trevor Noah's Born a Crime awarded Thurber Prize for American Humour

Born A CrimeTrevor Noah was announced as the winner of the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humour for his memoir Born a Crime on the 2nd of October at a ceremony at Carolines on Broadway in New York City.

The Thurber Prize is the only award which gives recognition to the art of humour writing in America. Noah received $5 000, a commemorative plaque, and is invited to Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio as a featured guest at a special event.

The runner-ups were novelists Ken Pisani’s (author of Amp’d, and Aaron Their – nominated for Mr. Eternity).

Trevor Noah’s path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show in New York began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of his relationship with his fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother – his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic and deeply affecting. Whether being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping or simply trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty.

‘As much as Born a Crime is about Trevor, you can’t help but see yourself in the stories he tells. In many ways, he is all of us. When Trevor writes about his mother, I felt like he was writing about mine. He was born in the tragedy and comedy that was apartheid South Africa and he recounts his experiences with compassion and humour. He validates my view: although we all seem ordinary, we all have extraordinary stories to tell – and to live.’
– KHAYA DLANGA

Born a Crime strikes a perfect balance of humour and seriousness. It is wild and calming; it makes you want to sit and reflect silently, and also pick up the phone to question loved ones. It is both Xhosa and Swiss – the two forces that created this crime. Bravo Trevor! This book gave me all the answers about you to questions I never knew I had.’
– ANELE MDODA

Book details