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Die versmorende effek van die huishoudelike alledaagse is die hoofbron van konflik in Elsa Hamersma se domestic noir roman, Die Mense Langsaan

Die Mense LangsaanChristine wil van Frikkie, haar man, ontslae raak. Moord maak meer sin as egskeiding, veral nadat hy baie geld op die Lotto wen wat hy nie met haar deel nie, maar dan trek daar ’n geskeide man met ’n volwasse dogter langs haar in. Wanneer Frikkie op ’n onverklaarbare wyse by die trap in die huis afval, is die speurders en Christine suspisieus oor haar nuwe buurman. Christine, nou die ryk weduwee, trou gou weer en trek saam met haar nuwe man na ’n veiligheidslandgoed.

’n Eertydse kollega van Christine, Zebith, is haar nuwe buurvrou. Mettertyd kom Christine agter dat die huis waarin sy en haar nuwe man bly, ’n bloedige geskiedenis het. Zebith ken die geskiedenis en was betrokke by die inwoners. Sy ly aan postraumatiese stres en wroeg omdat sy skuldig voel oor wat in die huis langs hare gebeur het. Saam met die skuldgevoel moet sy ook die pyn van haar gebroke hart hanteer.

Die twee buurvroue het albei die mans saam met wie hulle gewoon het, verloor en albei het skouers geskuur met gewelddadige dood. Daar kan tog nie nog onvoorsiene tragedies vir hulle voorlê nie?

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Domestic noir: Elders het boeke soos The girl on the train, wat as domestic noir bekendstaan, opslae gemaak. Hamersma val ook in die kategorie. Die versmorende effek van die huishoudelike alledaagse is die hoofbron van konflik. Hamersma se boek het egter ’n unieke storie, reg vir die Suid-Afrikaanse mark.

Chanette Paul, LAPA Uitgewers se manuskripontwikkelaar, sê: “Dis altyd verblydend wanneer skrywers nuwe genres in Afrikaans aanpak. Die noir-genres, en spesifiek domestic noir, is deesdae baie gewild. Ek is dus bly Elsa het hierdie tendens op die proef gestel.”

Jeanette Ferreira, teksredakteur, sê: “Dit is die beste van Elsa se romans wat ek ooit gelees het. Die bisarheid, die droefheid, die sameloop van omstandighede het my so geboei dat ek nie die teks wou neersit nie. Well done!”

Boekbesonderhede

Not always a comfortable read, but a fascinating exploration of two people - Margaret von Klemperer reviews Ceridwen Dovey's In the Garden of the Fugitives

Published in the Witness: 23 May 2018

In the Garden of the Fugitives
Ceridwen Dovey

CERIDWEN Dovey was born in South Africa, raised in South Africa and Australia, studied in America and now lives in Australia. The relevance of all this is that one of the main characters in this fascinating and complex novel follows the same path. So the author, as she traces Vita’s emotional difficulties with this inheritance, knows of what she writes.

Dovey has chosen to hark back to one of the earliest novel forms in the Western canon – an epistolary story, one written in the form of letters, which are now updated to emails.

The two correspondents are Vita, who lives in the Australian town of Mudgee, and Royce, who during Vita’s years studying in America was a Svengali-like figure who gave her a scholarship from his wealthy foundation but expected favours in return. He is now dying and, in opening the correspondence, proclaims a “craven need for absolution” both from Vita and from his dead love, Kitty Lushington, in whose name he set up the foundation.
 

One of the questions in any first-person novel – and this one has two first persons – is how far can you trust the narrator? As Royce and Vita set out their lives both before and after their estrangement, they often seem to be writing past each other rather than to each other. It is a clever way of building up their history, allowing the observer (the reader) to guess at hidden things, referred to obliquely.

Royce’s first love, long before he met Vita, was Kitty, an archaeologist working in the ruins of Pompeii. She was in love with her older Italian mentor, and tolerated and used the dog-like devotion of Royce. But we know from an early stage in the book that Kitty died young, though only at the end do we almost discover how.
Vita studied anthropology and film making in America. After graduating, she returned to the South Africa of her childhood, where she faced the rootlessness of the perpetual exile along with the white liberal guilt and angst that stifled her creativity to a crippling extent. Dovey cleverly juxtaposes these anxieties with those of the archaeologists who are trying to recreate not just a long vanished civilisation but the agony of its death throes.

In the Garden of the Fugitives is not always a comfortable read, but it is a fascinating exploration of two people, neither wholly likeable but both deserving of some of our sympathy, as they reveal themselves not just to each other but to themselves. Dovey deserves the plaudits she has received as an up and coming force in fiction.

Book details

Launch: Death Cup by Irna van Zyl (24 May)

Murder is on the menu.

Detective Storm van der Merwe and Andreas Moerdyk are back in this brand-new thriller by Irna van Zyl, author of Dead in the Water.

Storm now works in Hermanus and during a lunch with her friend at Zebardines, a much-hated food blogger keels over and dies. It turns out that there were deadly mushrooms, death cups, in her food.

Finding out who killed the blogger is Storm’s first priority, but not the only matter requiring her attention: her old colleague, Andreas Moerdyk, quit his job unexpectedly and expects Storm to put him up while he makes a new start in Hermanus.

Amid frantic preparations for Fooddotcom’s prize-giving ceremony that will honour the country’s best chefs, the murderer strikes again, and again.

Storm’s time is running out.

Event Details

Book Bites: 20 May

Published in the Sunday Times

The Hum of the Sun
*****
Kirsten Miller, Kwela R285

Zuko is eight and his thoughts get stuck in his mouth. He enjoys Cheerios, nature, rhythms, patterns, and the light. With his mother and sister dead, his only guide through life is Ash, his teenage brother. Ash should be in school, but with no money or food, he pins his hopes on finding their father in the city. But it is a long walk for two boys; can he be strong enough to get both himself and Zuko there safely? A beautifully told tale that penetrates the heart. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Little Italian Bakery
****
Valentina Cebeni (Little, Brown, R275)

Food is magic. From candied lemon sweets (little bits of sunshine) to fried bread soaked in orange blossom honey, Elettra has to come to terms with her baking heritage. Her mother Edda is in a coma, and Elettra’s only answer to her family background is a necklace that points her to Titan’s Island, just off the coast of Sardinia where she discovers a group of widows living in a convent. They might have the answer to all her questions. Cebeni’s novel is atmospheric – filled with scents of lemon, cobalt blue skies and hills covered with juniper berries and heather, and most of all, a deep warm feeling of love. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Book details

Bellissimo! Jaco Jacobs doen dit in Italiaans!

LAPA Uitgewers is trots om aan te kondig dat vertaalregte vir Jaco Jacobs se bekroonde jeugroman ’n Goeie dag vir boomklim pas deur nog ’n groot internasionale uitgewery opgeraap is.

Die Italiaanse uitgewery Rizzoli het suksesvol teen ’n mededingende uitgewershuis gebie om die Italiaanse vertaalregte vir Jaco se boek te bekom.

Rizzoli is een van die grootste uitgewerye in Italië en wêreldbekende skrywers soos John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon) en Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) se boeke word deur hulle in Italiaans uitgegee.

“Ek is steeds ietwat verstom,” sê Jaco, “en natuurlik baie dankbaar. Dit is ’n ongelooflike voorreg om te sien hoe Marnus en Leila, die twee hoofkarakters in my storie, die kans kry om nou regoor die wêreld te gaan boomklim!”

’n Goeie dag vir boomklim is die verhaal van Marnus, ’n gefrustreerde middelkind, wat hom een Desembervakansie laat ompraat om saam met ’n meisie in ’n boom te klim om te probeer keer dat die plaaslike owerheid dit afsaag.

’n Londense uitgewery, Oneworld Publications, het ’n Goeie dag vir boomklim verlede maand wêreldwyd in Engels gepubliseer. Die boek is tans ook in Suid-Afrika te koop as A Good Day for Climbing Trees.

In Oktober verskyn nog een van Jaco se boeke, Oor ’n motorfiets, ’n zombiefliek en lang getalle wat deur elf gedeel kan word, oorsee as A Good Night for Shooting Zombies.

’n Goeie dag vir boomklim was in 2016 die wenner van die kykNET/Rapport-prys se filmkategorie. Filmregte vir die boek is sedertdien aan M-Net toegeken.

Boekbesonderhede

Launch: Patagonia by Maya Fowler (23 May)

Tertius de Klerk: Afrikaner, hapless academic and potential has-been. A drunken one-night stand with a student, the confrontation, a terrible incident. Tertius must flee.

Like his great-grandfather Basjan before him, Tertius leaves for Patagonia, the remote South American region where his forebears started anew after the Anglo-Boer War.

It’s a desperate act, but also an opportunity to seek refuge among longlost relatives on the windswept plains of the continent’s southernmost tip.

History repeats itself as his spirited wife Alta sets off after him – just as his great-grandmother Salome pursued the wayward Basjan across ocean and desert.

With a heady mix of adventure and humour, Maya Fowler’s novel spans the wide Patagonian plains, and transports you to the New World on Spanish soil, where the Afrikaans language survives to this day.

Event Details