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Listen to five short stories by Nadine Gordimer (including Loot read by the author) via @openculture:

Join Zapiro for the Launch of DemoCrazy: SA's Twenty-Year Trip at The Bioscope

DemoCrazy: SA's Twenty-Year TripJacana Media and The Bioscope Independent Cinema invite you to the launch of Zapiro’s new collection DemoCrazy: SA’s Twenty-Year Trip.

DemoCrazy – Zapiro’s “greatest hits” – records South Africa’s two-decade roller-coaster ride from the landmark elections in 1994 to today.

Don’t miss this exciting event!
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Excerpt: Stuff South African White People Like and the Oppikoppi Enigma

Stuff South African White People LikeWomen24 have shared a second excerpt from Christian Lander and Hagen Engler’s new book Stuff South African White People Like.

The first excerpt from the book contemplated white people’s fascination with their gardens, as “a metaphor for their life”. This extract looks at the annual music festival Oppikoppi, which is in its 20th year this year, as a “good place to start” if you want to get to know white people.

Oppikoppi is an annual music festival held on a koppie about 200km north of Johannesburg in the dusty, thorny Limpopo bushveld, outside a town called Northam.

It has been going for 20 years and is now an integral part of white culture.
The festival lasts three or four days, with several stages of music comprising mostly rock, but also electro, hip-hop and jazz.

Attending Oppikoppi means camping in the bush with about 20 000 other people, all covered in orange dust and smelling of brandy and sweat.

White people cannot get enough of it. Oppikoppi is like a pilgrimage to reaffirm their white principles.

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Amanda Coetzee interviews Mike Nicol

Good morning and welcome to another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival. This morning Amanda Coetzee will be chatting to prolific local and internationally published crime author, Mike Nicol. If you have any questions, Amanda will open up to the floor at about 9:45. Over to you Amanda… — with Amanda Coetzee and Mike Nicol.

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‪Amanda Coetzee Thanks Bea Reader for the warm welcome. Morning early risers and of course, Mike. Would you sum up ‘Of Cops and Robbers’ for anyone who may not have read it yet?

‪Mike Nicol Can’t we start with an easy question. Like what’s my favourite colour?

‪Amanda Coetzee Stop misbehaving. Let me sum it up for you but don’t moan if I get critical points wrong…

‪Mike Nicol I’m much better at correcting the mistakes of others. Gives me a sense of superiority.

‪Amanda Coetzee There speaks the creative writing teacher. Ok. It’s based on historical crime (sort of) that impacts on the present in a violently but entertaining read.

‪Mike Nicol And it features a stunning beautiful duo – the surfer boy (who is modeled on me, of course) and his amazing girlfriend who predictably won’t move in with him as she has a gambling habit and a nice flat in the city and she’s a lawyer. What more could you ask for?

‪Amanda Coetzee Err, who is the beautiful girl modelled on? Your long suffering wife? Where did the detail for the gambling addiction come from?

‪Mike Nicol Oh, that’s all made up the gambling part. The beautiful girl part? Well that would be to reveal secrets. Have to add in something about my setting right now. I’m in Langebaan in a cafe looking out on a street. The lagoon is down the road but I can see it if I stand on a chair.

‪Amanda Coetzee A comment on its distance not your height of course. Have you ever had a ‘baby-shit yellow Ford Granada’ in the interests of researching an unforgettable phrase?

‪Amanda Coetzee A serious question for anyone still listening. Why the decision to base the plot, loosely, around historical events?

‪Mike Nicol No. But my father owned one in the 1970s. Or at least he had the Granada part. The yellow part came because g-daughter Kate had just been born and so there was a lot of that colour stuff around.

I suppose because history has always been present – no clever word play there of course – in my fiction. But apart from that I have long been fascinated by the hit squads that the apartheid forces let go on the country. I wanted to reference their doings and then a sense of poetic justice as they came to confront their actions in the new country.

Amanda Coetzee Do you feel a sense of responsibility as a social commentator as a crime writer based in South Africa or is this poetic justice a personal response?

‪Mike Nicol No. But my father owned one in the 1970s. Or at least he had the Granada part. The yellow part came because g-daughter Kate had just been born and so there was a lot of that colour stuff around.

I suppose because history has always been present – no clever word play there of course – in my fiction. But apart from that I have long been fascinated by the hit squads that the apartheid forces let go on the country. I wanted to reference their doings and then a sense of poetic justice as they came to confront their actions in the new country.

‪Amanda Coetzee Do you feel a sense of responsibility as a social commentator as a crime writer based in South Africa or is this poetic justice a personal response?

‪Mike Nicol Ah the question that lies at the root of so much… I guess because I grew up at a certain time and started writing in the 1970s when everything you wrote was political, writers couldn’t help but by social commentators. As a crime writer – well, as any writer really – I think one has to carry on the tradition of commenting on the country. Especially as we have a lot to comment on right now. Also the poetic justice is probably also a personal response, but mostly that novel is about telling a story and mixing some fact into the fiction.

Amanda Coetzee Talking about the mix of fact and fiction, your character Jacob Mkezi of the crocodile shoes is a complex man who clearly sees himself as beyond the petty rules of society. Sadly so many of our politicians do – was your choice to include his relationship with a white woman and a liking for young male prostitutes as part of this character trait?…

To read the rest of the interview join The Good Book Appreciation Society on Facebook by emailing or by friending Bea Reader on Facebook.

Join Zapiro for the Launch of DemoCrazy: SA’s Twenty-Year Trip at Exclusive Books Hyde Park

DemoCrazy: SA’s Twenty-Year TripJacana Media and Exclusive Books invite you to the launch of DemoCrazy: SA’s Twenty-Year Trip by Zapiro on Saturday, 2 August.

The event takes place at Exclusive Books Hyde Park and starts at noon.

See you there!
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Hagen Engler on Whiteness Mzansi Style: The Most Well-off Working-class People in the World

#STBooks: Whiteness Mzansi Style

By Hagen Engler for The Sunday Times

Stuff South African White People LikeWhite people, don’t you enjoy being the only white person around? You know, those odd occasions where you find yourself surrounded by black people? Tell me you don’t love it! I do!

Like, if I’m in a township, and I turn heads because the locals aren’t used to seeing white folks there? Guy, when that happens I feel like Johnny Clegg! Like DJ Ankletap! It’s all I can do to prevent myself shouting, “Amandla!” out the window of my Aveo, because I feel like the Joe Slovo of Alexandra. Even though I’m just taking a shortcut to Greenstone Shopping Centre.

We are indeed a strange lot, us white people.

Strange enough to warrant a book about our odd predilections, for sure. Several books, in fact. One of the more successful franchises has been Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like.

It began life as a blog in 2008, and totally blew up. The site cracked 40 million views within nine months and was soon adapted into a book. The book in turn was syndicated into the various territories around the world where people of the Caucasian persuasion make their homes.

And so it has become South Africa’s turn. We SA white people certainly punch above our demographic weight, so we probably do deserve a Stuff White People Like.

I think of myself as something of an expert on whiteness. I’ve been white since birth, and I’ve been well accepted by my white brethren. Except for that time in that bar in Bothaville.

That aside, I also have a fair idea of what kind of “stuff” SA’s particular strain of white people tend to like.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re not like other white people.

It’s a firm belief in our unpretentious, salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar roots that sets us apart. This, all the while accepting that we are worldly, upmarket operators entitled to happiness in all things.

This is pretty much what distinguishes a South African white person from his American counterpart. We are the most well-off working-class people you could hope to meet.

A South African white person could quite easily drive to Menlyn in their E-Class Mercedes wearing tiny Judron shorts, slops and a Bulls rugby shirt.

There, they might purchase a Persian rug for R12 000 because they “need something for the lapa”. So it’s not too slippery when brandy gets spilt.

We can be millionaires while still fondly nurturing a value system inherited from our hardscrabble roots in Uitenhage, Springs or Goodwood.

We dress like bearded hobos while snapping street portraits on a camera worth as much as a car.

Personally, I will deny till I’m blue in the face that I’m rich. But sure, I have a house, a couple of cars and I go on holiday every year. That’s just basics, isn’t it?

I’m unemployed, but I can still drop R2 000 on concert tickets. I mean, hey. Foo Fighters!

The ways of whiteness are indeed strange. From Organic Food to Madiba to Events With Backdrops, we like. From Craft Beer to Camps Bay, we like. Two-Tone Tops, Carol Boyes and Threatening To Move To Australia? We like.

Oh, and Being The Only White Person Around, of course.

Follow Hagen on Twitter @HagenEngler – the hashtag is #STBooks

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Liesl Jobson interviews Alex Smith

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Morning and welcome to another Sunday morning Pajama Flash Festival on The Good Book Appreciation Society. Today Liesl Jobson is interviewing Alex Smith on her highly anticipated new novel, Devilskein & Dearlove.Over to you Liesl…

‪Liesl Jobson What a delight to be here, talking to an author I greatly admire. Despite finishing Devilskein & Dearlove at three this morning, I am wide awake with this fantastic and fabulous narrative. In the fullest sense of both those words it is a fable of the fantasy genre and it is buzzing wildly in my head. It’s a book you simply can’t quit until the last remarkable page. Doors open into doors, ever darker worlds open up, a cast of quirky and fully realised characters have their say, and, most courageously, the heroine gazes upon impossible and unimaginable faces of evil without flinching.

The feisty Erin Dearlove is just 13. She’s instantly recognisable as the archetypal prickly adolescent. Anyone who is intimately involved with teens might have seen her sort! She is short to the point of rudeness, intolerant of others, and smart as a whip. Her curiosity and willingness to suspend belief means that an improbable encounter with a demon is teased into reality.

Erin is, significantly, a survivor. She defends herself from the anguish of her new life by re-imagining the hideous attack that left her orphaned. Her vibrant imagination is aided by her rare command of the English language. And her refusal to go to school, which leads to a hilarious encounter with a school psychologist! Erin is brighter than most of the adults she interacts with and has a way of projecting herself into and onto the world so that nobody knows what she most cares about. I’m curious about the liberties that writing YA fiction affords you. How did the voice of Erin come to you?

‪Alex Smith Thank you Liesl, for that – you put it so beautifully even so early on a Sunday morning. First the names came – Devilskein and Dearlove. I knew they’d be opposites in some way and like the ‘D’ they share, they’d be similar too. I have teenagers in my family, nieces and nephews and I think Erin Dearlove’s voice grew out of their collective vulnerability, their wisdom, their many moments of grumpiness and at times their uncanny abilities to be hurtful (which shows how much insight they have into the souls of adults… in fact, sometimes I’m not sure there is such a distinction between adults and young adults (teenagers), apart from the legal things … maybe my head is blurry from late dinner party last night, but even my two-year-old son has an extraordinary understanding of how to get his way in the world. I think adults think they are wiser than they are and adults underestimate the wisdom of children and young adults.

‪Liesl Jobson I’m with you all the way, Alex, which is why I’m never entirely convinced that the designation “YA” is necessarily apt. The crossover between childhood and adulthood is a liminal space that I’m not sure we ever properly exit. Your narrative also touches on issues that affect adults and children alike. The experience of evil, the way we make sense of it, the possibilities of enduring through trauma.

‪Alex Smith In terms of liberties, I think YA (although I’m not such a fan of categories, though they’re essential for marketing I know) allows a particular kind of fantastical, not fantasty, but it makes space for being playing with fantastical possibilities. So instead of YA I like to think of my genre as Fantastical Real.

‪Liesl Jobson Snap!

‪Alex Smith Haha, yes, I agree completely. The issue of evil was a hard one to grapple with.

‪Alex Smith You know in some philosophies there’s the idea that there is no real evil and since I’m an atheist, in some ways I go along with that, But then things you see in the news…sheesh, they make evil seem very real.

‪Liesl Jobson Recently, at Lauren Beukes’s launch of Broken Monsters, she said, “We’re all broken… we’re all monsters.” That resonated. Your Erin Dearlove has a sense of her own power, for good and for craziness. She walks such a fine line. Grappling with evil is our daily reality in South Africa. Actually, it’s a global reality. Not peculiarly homegrown. I’m interesting in the way you allow the reader to wonder if she is telling the truth, when she clearly isn’t. It’s paradoxical.

To read the rest of the interview, join The Good Book Appreciation Society on Facebook, by friending Bea Reader, or email