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"Poverty does not know what shame is" - read two excerpts from Lesego Rampolokeng's third novel, Bird-Monk Seding

This place is called SEDING, short for Leseding, place of light. Quite ironic given the darkness throbbing at its core and spilling out bubbling in the blackest rage when least expected. Surrounded by farmland in all directions, it is a settlement of about 700 households crammed in tiny structures. Average 7 souls per hovel. It used to be made up of ramshackle corrugated iron shacks that seemed tossed down regardless of aesthetics. Then the new administration’s housing programme kicked in.

Man in the bush in quest of Bosman’s ghost. Finding AWB rabidity. Tranquility so deep it kills. Hate-hounds. Beneath the surface quiet, such racist rotten-heartedness. & children dying. Starvation abounds. Raw sewage in the water supply. Crap in the taps. Skin matters. Ancient white beards sexing black teens for tins, food exchange. The soul’s impoverishment. The starved get their humanity halved. And weekends of sex-tourism. Alcoholic stares everywhere. Deep fear too.

Read two excerpts from Lesego Rampolokeng’s third novel, Bird-Monk Seding, here:

Bushveld dawn bird-orchestra. Deep growls, horses-n-trailers in the freeway distance, growling changing down. And then off into the Botswana-bound distance or back from there. They pull breath in and out, shake heads and in satisfaction, or bad mood, depending, go on eating up the asphalt. Road-graze. Predatory, still.

Tiny community, Seding. The country’s smallest municipality. But the regularity of graves opening up beats average middle-town. You see it in the expressions walking. Always on the verge of waking. And never doing it. Just going through. Doom walks here. Hangs on the shoulders, a monkey clinging tight. An air of resignation surrounds.

‘All we have here are our bodies, and they fade. First goes the elasticity under the constant pummelling, the hammering, the getting beat down. They shrivel up each day, get turned inside out until the red parts come out to the sun. Then no grip remains. And without that, what is woman? So you cannot earn by it, then… ’ She looks earth-beaten, jaded is not a description. Standing by the freeway roadside sticking her thumb out at passing motorcars, but only the ones with the sole male driver. Or the ones with no female occupants. She is going nowhere but to the end of a negotiation. And back. And then again. Just a ride to some sweat-laden rustling paper.

She is hitching flesh-sales, she tells me. Just open-faced. Poverty does not know what shame is, she lets me know. Morality is not edible. No destination except perhaps a pot on a stove. If that. ‘And the children shall eat.’ ‘I will shovel shit if it will feed my seed.’ That is the wish but often it is first, and then last, a frothing plastic mug brimming with potency’s brew. Then, perhaps… next the children will hunger-stare. & she will beat them, accusing them of being spoilt, they ate last night so why the tears. And then her man will beat her in turn. And sleep will come. For all.

***

Old socialist-communist-comrades gone capital is like THE YEARN. Ultra-straight man on crack cocaine sticking massive phallic objects up his rectum when the rush takes on. & Gael said: ‘It makes you know the truth about yourself. It is a serum. Gets you paranoid still, and you go scared of even yourself. Your shadow tails you, stalks you, talks menace to you…’ The sexual exhilaration is without outlet though. Builds up to explosion and then just peters out, leaves you whimpering, it is majangling electric-wired like the brain cells will explode, and you feel them, on the burn, the ends going to ash. The ultimate white-lit end of it just beyond your reach, and you grasp, your nails wanting to tear out even, if the need arise… and you try a hold on the nothing out there, just… outside your grasp… your arms not long enough… always just micrometres away, you never get to it. And know that for truth but no matter, you have to… so you hurry up and light up away before it disappears forever, you think… but inside you is knowledge of how vain it all is … and that even if it were not and you got to it, you would be smashed to bits, what smithereens means… and that will be the end to minuscule you in the universe floating up there before coming crash-landing on your being. And still you want it. And the hunger makes demands like starvation is your all…. and just one bite will be your salvation. IT IS MASTER, YOU ARE LESS THAN SLAVE NO RELATION MORE DEMEANING.

But you must obey because your genitals will it, the crotch reaches out, desiring deep. You want to fuck to the end of the tiniest crevice. And the biggest juice-dripping orifice beckons. And you want to squeeze the extent of your very self out of your body, it is a casing you don’t need anyway. You need your obliteration in the pleasure promise. So you stoke up white, open the coils. And the glass-pipe hums, mocking. And the rock sizzles and opens its legs for you to come in. Penetration time. You clutch the lighter tight. Don’t want it running away and gone. Need no loss now. And the seconds ticking seem centuries… and you flick and flame up, trembling in anticipation. You torch up, and solid turns liquid turns gaseous and your inhalation makes it shoot up your tunnels, seems running in and out all your holes. Like the hair is in shock standing up. Hold it in long as the lungs can withstand without collapsing, coming down hard. Joyous like nothing else ever since time. Hold, keep it in, still, blow out, sigh. & the wash comes. And baptises and blesses. And the warmth floods. And you grab your cock and pull. And it is to cry… it comes closer. & cums inside you. You pump harder. Fuck images flash, dance in your head behind your eyes and a million pussies yawn wet hot open and you sink your skull in them, all of them, same time. And you feel them wrap around you. You are your cock. And cunt. And arse. And sucking mouth. And sucked. Cunnilingused & fellated to all sevens. And still it calls you and you’re staggering. All the while you are running on your haunches though, like your legs amputated above the knees. Hard as you gallop can’t get there. Just on the point of coming it fades. & it is back to the beginning. Of your time, your existence. You tremble, shake, shiver, collapse into yourself again. Spent. And you did not even ejaculate. The call comes again. Seduces. And you realise your eyes are closed, so you open them and stare. And the black green yellow red stars exploding behind your eyelids retreat. You flop down defeated.

Lesego Rampolokeng is a poet and performance maestro, the author of 12 books, including two plays and three novels. He has collaborated with visual artists, playwrights, filmmakers, theatre and opera producers, poets and musicians. His no-holds-barred style, radical political-aesthetic perspective and instantly recognisable voice have brought him a unique place in South African literature.

Rampolokeng’s third novel Bird-Monk Seding is a stark picture of life in a rural township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Listening and observing in the streets and taverns, narrator Bavino Sekete, often feeling desperate himself, is thrown back to his own violent childhood in Soweto. To get through, he turns to his pantheon of jazz innovators and radical writers.

 
Bird-Monk Seding

Book details

ATKV-Woordveertjies 2017 se finaliste bekendgemaak

Die name van die finaliste vir die 2017 ATKV-Woordveertjies is onlangs bekendgemaak. Dié prys vier tans sy tiende jaargang en die wenners sal op 8 September by Anura Landgoed buite Stellenbosch bekendgemaak word.

ATKV-Prosaprys

Tuisland – Karin Brynard (Penquin Random House SA)
Verlorenkop – Celesté Fritze (Queillerie)
1795 – Dan Sleigh (Tafelberg)

Prys vir Liefdesroman

Oorlewingsgids vir ’n bedonnerde diva – Sophia Kapp (LAPA Uitgewers)
Offerande – Chanette Paul (LAPA Uitgewers)
Anderkant vergeet – Santie van der Merwe (LAPA Uitgewers)

Prys vir Poësie

Hammie – Ronelda S. Kamfer (Kwela Boeke)
Fotostaatmasjien – Bibi Slippers (Tafelberg)
Die aarde is ’n eierblou ark – Susan Smith (Protea Boekhuis)

Prys vir Romanses

Moeilikheid met ’n meermin – Sophia Kapp (Romanza)
Troue in ’n towerbos – Rosita Oberholster (Romanza)
Liefde deur ’n lens – Elsa Winckler (Satyn)

Prys vir Spanningslektuur

Tuisland – Karin Brynard (Penquin Random House SA)
Die dood van ’n goeie vrou – Chris Karsten (Human & Rousseau)
Koors – Deon Meyer (Human & Rousseau)

Prys vir Dramateks

My seuns – Christo Davids
DEURnis – Jannes Erasmus, Henque Heymans & Johann Smith
Wild – Philip Rademeyer

Prys vir Niefiksie

Broedertwis – Albert Blake (Tafelberg)
Emily Hobhouse: Geliefde verraaier – Elsabé Brits (Tafelberg)
Historikus Herman Giliomee – Herman Giliomee (Tafelberg)

Festering divisions in the American South: Bron Sibree talks to Karin Slaughter about her latest novel The Good Daughter

Published in the Sunday Times

The Good DaughterThe Good Daughter
Karin Slaughter (HarperCollins)
****

Karin Slaughter has been in a class of her own since her debut crime novel Blindsighted, which became a surprise bestseller in 2001. It revealed a willingness to write about violence with unflinching honesty and an unparalleled ability to create strong, believable female characters.

She rocketed to international stardom, and sales of her books now exceed 35 million copies in 36 languages. From the outset, says Slaughter, “I wanted to write tough stories from a woman’s perspective because I think that women look at the world differently.”

Her latest novel The Good Daughter takes her interest in character and in social issues to a new level. A standalone work that is her 17th novel to date, The Good Daughter doesn’t so much slip the moorings of the crime genre, but realigns its ties to them in refreshing ways. It cleverly links the stories of two sisters, Charlie and Sam, and their experience of two violent, murderous events – one in the present, one in the past – in a cannily layered thriller.

Yet it is almost Victorian in its social scope and depth of characterisation. Even its size, a whopping 527 pages, is more akin to the literary traditions of a bygone era. “This is my longest book,” says Slaughter. “I always say a story needs to be as long as it needs to be.”

Already being hailed as a tour de force, it reveals Slaughter at the top of her game, and was seeded in part by the death of a former English teacher who was her mentor for many years. “I wanted to talk about the fact that even if someone dies your relationship with them doesn’t end, it continues after they’re gone. So it started with thinking about the relationship between Charlie and Sam and their mother, and how, with their mother gone, she has such influence on them.”

All her novels are anchored in the landscapes and sensibilities of the American South, but The Good Daughter probes the festering, and very real divisions between the middle class and those left behind in Pikeville, Georgia, where much of the novel is set. “That was very important to me,” says Slaughter, whose own father grew up in “the Holler”, the poorest area in Pikeville.

“He was one of nine kids and his father was always being chased and beaten up by either the clan because he wasn’t taking care of his family, or by the government because he was making moonshine. They would squat in shacks with no running water and live on squirrels. So I know how people who are trapped in that kind of poverty work their asses off and never, ever get ahead.”

Steeped in the history, lore and literature of the region, the 46-year-old author has been on mission to “honour the South” from the outset, as well as to highlight the chilling facts of violence against women. Part of the reason she feels so at home in the crime genre “is because I want to talk about social issues, and I think crime fiction’s job has always been to hold up a mirror to society. I grew up reading Flannery O ’Connor, and she used shock and violence as this fulcrum to prise the scab off the human condition, and I absolutely think when I write, that that’s my job.”

Follow @BronSibree

Book details

Innie skylte vannie Jirre vir die neënde maal herdruk

Innie skylte vannie JirreInnie skylte vannie Jirre is ‘n beduidende uitbreiding van die blitsverkopertjie, Die Griekwapsalms en annerlike goeterse yt die Woord yt.

Nóg meer Bybelgedeeltes word poëties getransponeer, sodat die betekenis van die Woord in die leser opnuut ontroer en binnetoe laat dink.

Boekbesonderhede

Die filmverwerking van Vaselinetjie begin binnekort draai. Lees dié besondere roman weer voor jy dit gaan kyk.

Sy is Helena Bosman van die Noord-Kaap, maar Oupa en Oumie noem haar sommer Vaselinetjie.

Sy is hulle hart se punt, tot Vaselinetjie tien jaar oud is en die Welsyn haar laat wegstuur na die kosskool in Gauteng. Want sy is wit en kan nie haar bruin oupa en ouma se regte kleinkind wees nie.

Dit is 1993 en Suid-Afrika staan op die rand van ‘n nuwe politieke bestel. Soos die land verander, so word Vaselinetjie ook in die vreemde, ongenaakbare weeshuiswêreld ‘n jong vrou.

Vaselinetjie is tegelyk ‘n huil-mooi liefdesverhaal en ‘n roman oor grootword in ‘n kinderhuis. Soos in haar debuutroman, Annerkant die longdrop, skryf Von Meck oor ‘n omgewing wat sy deur en deur kén. [...] Dit is ‘n storie wat jy kan onthou en oorvertel, en wat vir lank nog met jou sal bly gesels voordat jy snags jou oë toemaak.” Willemien Brümmer in Die Burger

Anoeschka von Meck het in 1998 verras met haar debuutroman, Annerkant die longdrop. Hierdie boek, wat gegrond is op haar werklike ervarings as kinderversorger by ‘n kinderhuis, bring ‘n wêreld onder woorde wat aan min mense bekend is. Vaselinetjie is onvergeetlik.

Die filmverwerking van Vaselinetjie begin 22 September in teaters draai. Kyk solank die lokprent hier:

Vaselinetjie

Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Annerkant die longdrop

Book Bites: 13 August 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

The CallerThe Caller
Chris Carter (Simon & Schuster)
Book thrill
***
Author Chris Carter is a Brazil-born criminal psychologist turned crime writer who is making a name for himself among the krimi giants. After a two-year hiatus, The Caller is his eighth page-twister in a series that follows LA detective Robert Hunter as he tracks down the baddest of the bad. This time around, the bad guy is exceptionally diabolical – a serial killer who knows his way around social media and likes to play gruesome games with his victims. This thriller is gratuitously gory in parts, but crime fans will delight in the chase. – Sally Partridge @sapartridge

The Nowhere ManThe Nowhere Man
Gregg Hurwitz (Michael Joseph)
Book thrill
***
Orphan Evan Smoak was raised as an assassin in a secret government project but now, rich and contrite, he uses his training to help anyone in need. Evan has just bust a child sex-slave ring and is on his way to rescue the final victim when he is kidnapped and held captive in a luxurious mansion where his every desire is met – except freedom. The Nowhere Man is the second in the series and is as fast-paced and slickly written as the first, Orphan X. This is a wonderful old-fashioned escapist adventure. – Aubrey Paton

Temporary PeopleTemporary People
Deepak Unnikrishnan (Simon & Schuster)
Book buff
****
The United Arab Emirates is filled with riches most can only dream of: skyscrapers and designer shops line the streets. And yet the people who built the city, who paved the roads, who dedicated their lives to making it oh so glamorous are not citizens. Temporary People is a collection of short stories about migrant workers in the UAE. – Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Book details