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Black to the future: Authors announced for the Abantu Book Festival

Authors announced for the Abantu Book Festival

Alert! The Abantu Book Festival has revealed a sneak peek of writers and performing artists who will be leading the inaugural event.

The Abantu Book Festival will be happening in Soweto, 6-10 December 2016.

The impressive lineup includes Angela Makholwa, Bheki Peterson, Bongani Madondo, Bontle Senne, Chika Unigwe, Dikeledi Deekay Sibanda, Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso, Don Mattera, Elinor Sisulu, Eusebius McKaiser, Florence Masebe, Fred Khumalo, Gcina Mhlope, HJ Golakai, James Murua, Khadija Patel, Khaya Dlanga, Khosi Xaba, Koleka Putuma, Lebo Mashile, Lesego Rampolokeng, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Malaika wa Azania, Mongane Wally Serote, Natalia Molebatsi, Ndumiso Ngcobo, Niq Mhlongo, NoViolet Bulawayo, Nozizwe Jele, Percy Mabandu, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Redi Tlhabi, Rehana Rossouw, Sabata-mpho Mokae, Sihle Khumalo, Siphiwe Mpye, Siphiwo Mahala, Thabiso Mahlape, Thandiswa Mazwai, Thato Magano, Unathi Kondile, Unathi Magubeni, Vangi Gantsho, Xolisa Guzula, Yewande Omotoso, Zukiswa Wanner, and others still to be confirmed.

Panashe Chigumadzi, author of Sweet Medicine and the festival’s curator, says:

In this lineup we find depth and variety. Some of our authors have been telling stories for as long as others have been alive, while others have just begun but are bringing incredible innovations to the art. Together with our storytellers, we’ll be looking black to the future.

Black Widow SocietySigh The Beloved CountryPowers of the KnifeNight DancerThe Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!Memory is the WeaponWalter and Albertina Sisulu
Run Racist Run#ZuptasMustFall and Other RantsHave You Seen Zandile?The ScoreTo Quote MyselfThese handsIn a Ribbon of RhythmA Half Century Thing

“Abantu” is the Nguni word for “people”, and the festival’s mission is to be “the literature event that provides black writers and readers the platform and visibility they deserve”.

The first annual Abantu Book Festival will be a five-day experience of readings, discussions, music and other forms of storytelling, as well as workshops and film screenings.

Organised under the theme – Our Stories – the festival celebrates African stories through written and spoken word, visual arts, music and film. It will explore the ways in which our stories are told, and how these inform, or are informed by, our ways of being.

The Soweto Theatre (Jabulani) and Eyethu Lifestyle Centre (Mofolo) are the main venues, and African Flavour Books will be on site to make sure your favourite African and diasporan titles are on sale.

The programme will be published in November 2016.

Full author profiles are available at the Abantu Book Festival website!

The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other StoriesMemoirs of a Born FreeRumoursEat, Drink and Blame the AncestorsAffluenzaWe Need New NamesHappiness is a Four-Letter Word
The Everyday WifeRapeEndings and BeginningsWhat Will People SayGa ke ModisaAlmost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuWhen a Man Cries
Ukuba MtshaThe Woman Next DoorLondon – Cape Town – JoburgSweet MedicineNwelezelanga

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'Picture Boris Johnson spliced with Gwede Mantashe': Andrew Harding on writing The Mayor of Mogadishu

Published in the Sunday Times

nullThe Mayor of MogadishuThe Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia
Andrew Harding

I was sitting in the back seat of a car in Mogadishu, peering through tinted glass at the gunmen blocking our way, and wondering if maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea after all. I’ve been visiting Somalia regularly over the past 15 years, reporting on the extravagant supply of bad news – famines, pirates, warlords, militants and endlessly shifting frontlines. I’m used to the queasy experience of driving through Mogadishu’s ruins, braced for trouble.

But this time was different. I’d come not as a journalist, but as a guest speaker at the city’s fledgling book fair. I’d just written my book, The Mayor of Mogadishu, and launching it in Somalia seemed like the proper thing to do.

Except that I was on my own this time. No BBC News team beside me in the car. And Mogadishu was going through an upsurge in car bombings, assassinations, and coordinated attacks on hotels by the Islamist militants of al-Shabaab.

To add to my unease, the local media and the book fair’s organisers had publicised the timing of my speech at a downtown hotel. No chance of slipping in under the radar. My guards made no secret of their anxieties.

Then there was the book itself. My initial plan to write a traditional “journalist” book about my experiences in Somalia had been sideswiped by a chance encounter with a man known as Tarzan.

I first met him in 2010, days after he’d returned from 20 years in London, to take on the seemingly impossible job of Mogadishu’s mayor. He seemed an almost cartoonish figure. Brash, brave and thuggish. Picture Boris Johnson spliced with Gwede Mantashe.

But then I dug into his past and came to realise there was more to Tarzan. That his story was also Somalia’s. Born into a nomadic family, dropped off in an orphanage during a famine, he was a ruffian who fell in love with an upper-class girl and took her on dates to open-air cinemas. Then came Somalia’s collapse, escape to London, and, two decades and six children later, Tarzan’s determination to come “home”.

Others have demanded to know why I chose to write a book about ‘a scumbag’

Today Tarzan is a profoundly divisive figure. A hero to some Somalis. But others have jabbed me in the chest to demand why I have chosen to write a book about “a scumbag like that”. He’s accused of corruption, and worse. And now he’s campaigning to be president in elections due later this year.

And so, as our convoy finally made it safely through the security cordon outside the book fair, I was braced for a different kind of hostility. Not just the “why should we listen to yet another foreigner, telling us about our country?” sort. But also the suspicion that I was trying to help Tarzan’s election campaign. Those questions came, but politely. The crowds at the book fair were young, huge, exuberant – relishing the chance to celebrate their city’s progress and culture, and to push back against the bleak brand of a “failed state”.

“What do you like best about our city?” An earnest student stood in front of me, my book clutched in his hand, awaiting my signature. He was proud of Mogadishu, and I was glad I’d come back.

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Celebrating Joburg as the inspiration for great South African writing: The 2016 Bridge Book Festival

Celebrating Joburg and South African writing: 2016 Bridge Book Festival programme revealed

On Saturday, 29 October, the Bridge Book Festival will celebrate Johannesburg as the inspiration for great South African writing, by bringing writers and readers together in the city’s historic core.

The daylong event brings a dozen writers, poets and illustrators to explore landmark sites in downtown Johannesburg.

Not to be missed!

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 29 October 2016
  • Time: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Venues: Bridge Books, as well as The Rand Club, Oppenheimer Park and Corner House.
  • Tickets: Webtickets or Facebook

2016 Bridge Book Festival programme

null#ZuptasMustFall and Other Rants
1. Fred Khumalo
Time: 10am to 10.45am
Venue: Bridge Books
Fred Khumalo will be reading from his latest book #Zuptas Must Fall.
Ticket cost: R20
2. Poetree
Time: 10am to 10.45am
Venue: Corner House
Different artists from Poetree will entertain with their poems.
Ticket cost: R20
The Woman Next Door
3. Yewande Omotoso
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Yewande Omotoso will be reading from her latest novel The Woman Next Door.
Ticket cost: R20
nullThe Relatively Public Life Of Jules Browde
4. Daniel Browde
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: The Rand Club
Daniel Browde will be reading from The Relatively Public Life of Jules Browde.
Ticket cost: R50
nullEyes in the Night
5. Nomavenda Mathiane
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: Corner House
Nomavenda Mathiane will be reading from her book Eyes in the Night.
Ticket cost: R20
nullThe God Who Made Mistakes
6. Ekow Duker
Time: 12.30pm to 1.45pm
Venue: Corner House
Ekow Duker will be reading from his latest novel The God Who Made Mistakes.
Ticket cost: R20
nullBroke and Broken
7. Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki
Time: 1.45pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki will be reading from their book Broke & Broken.
Ticket cost: R20
8. Niq Mhlongo
Time: 1.45pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Corner House
Niq Mhlongo will be reading from his collection of short stories Affluenza.
Ticket cost: R20
nullHappiness is a Four-Letter Word
9. Nozizwe Cynthia Jele
Time: 3pm to 3.45pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele will be reading from her novel Happiness is a Four-Letter Word.
Ticket cost: R20
nullFrom Whiskey to Water
10. Samantha Cowen
Time: 3pm to 3.45pm
Venue: Corner House
Samantha Cowen will be reading from her memoir From Whiskey to Water.
Ticket cost: R20
bridge books
11. Cocktail party at Bridge Books
Time: From 4pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Drinks with the authors at Bridge Books.
Ticket cost: R100
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New novel from South African literary legend Achmat Dangor to be published in 2017 - along with a new edition of Bitter Fruit

New novel from Achmat Dangor to be published by in 2017 with a new edition of Bitter Fruit
Strange PilgrimagesWaiting for LeilaKafka's CurseBitter Fruit


Pan Macmillan South Africa and Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann Literary Agency are pleased to announce that a new novel from Achmat Dangor will be published in southern Africa under the Picador Africa imprint in 2017.

In addition, a new edition of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Bitter Fruit will be published as part of the Picador Africa Classics series as well as in paperback in 2017.

Dangor is an award-winning poet and novelist whose titles include Kafka’s Curse (1997) and the 2004 Booker-shortlisted Bitter Fruit, and Strange Pilgrimages (2013), an acclaimed collection of short stories. He lives and works in Johannesburg, and was last year awarded a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award.

I am honoured that Pan Macmillan is to publish my new novel and reissue Bitter Fruit. Both books explore, through eyes of ordinary people, the unresolved legacies of our troubled past.

- Achmat Dangor

Achmat Dangor’s prize-winning, Booker-shortlisted Bitter Fruit is one of the great classics of South African literature, a searing novel still so relevant in so many ways. I’m thrilled that it will reach new readers under the Picador Africa Classics banner, and that Pan Macmillan will also be publishing an exciting new novel by Achmat next year.

- Isobel Dixon, Blake Friedmann Literary Agency

I am delighted that Pan Macmillan will have the opportunity to work with Achmat Dangor to publish his new novel in 2017, as well as to bring an absolute classic, in Bitter Fruit, back to our local bookstores and readers. Achmat’s writing is a national literary treasure.

– Andrea Nattrass, Publisher at Pan Macmillan

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Temptation of a dangerous liaison: Tinyiko Maluleke reviews Nape a Motana's novel Hamba Sugar Daddy

Published in the Sunday Times

Hamba Sugar DaddyHamba Sugar Daddy
Nape à Motana (Jacana)

The setting of this novel is Mamelodi Township in Tshwane, where we meet 18-year-old Rolivhuwa Ramabulana, a pupil at Solomon Mahlangu High School. Here we are introduced to the lived world of township blessers and potential blessees.

By the second page, you can smell the stench of the river of poverty in which young Rolivhuwa is swimming. And already on the second page, one of her peers advises her that she could use her “God-given body to make good pocket money”. Rolivhuwa, her friends and family then explore the author’s vexatious subject: the blesser/blessee phenomenon.

Kedibone, Rolivhuwa’s high school friend, lures her into the world of blesser relationships. Khomisa is her born-again friend who tries but fails to stop Rolivhuwa from becoming a sugar baby. Bigvy Masemola, a middle-aged Mamelodi businessman, soon becomes Rolivhuwa’s “blessing on two legs”, as he calls himself.

Rolivhuwa is a reluctant blessee from the start. At the heart of the book is her struggle to get out of this relationship. Tellingly, her mother, who sees her daughter’s blesser as “a big-hearted man”, is complicit in the exploitation of her daughter. She opposes Rolivhuwa’s attempts to get out of the relationship at every turn.

To her mother’s chagrin, Rolivhuwa eventually breaks free from the loveless relationship, which is characterised by painful sex and rape. Later, she discovers that she is HIV-positive and becomes an anti-blesser-activist and the lead actor in a play titled “Hamba Sugar Daddy” (go away, sugar daddy). She also finds love.

Although the plot is simple, the subject of this novel is socially significant, given the blight of the blesser phenomenon and the high rate of new HIV infections in the 15 to 24 age group. There is very little nuance, paradox or irony in the plot or in the personalities and motivations of the main characters. After Rolivhuwa moves out of her blesser relationship, the novel changes into a kind of superficial motivational book.

Follow Tinyiko Maluleke on Twitter @ProfTinyiko

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'Burning rubber and black smoke': Bridget Hilton-Barber on how she almost lost her manuscript - by baking her laptop

Published in the Sunday Times

Student, Comrade, Prisoner, SpyStudent, Comrade, Prisoner, Spy
Bridget Hilton-Barber (Zebra Press)

I have lost many laptops to theft, and my external harddrive was recently pinched, so in the end throes of writing my latest book I became very protective over my laptop and its contents. I emailed myself the latest changes to my book every day and whenever I went out I hid my laptop – in different places to avoid the possibility of thieves and pilferers detecting my hiding patterns. I hid it in the bookshelf, I hid it under the bed, I hid it in the vegetable rack, I hid it in the clothes cupboard and then I hid it in the oven.

One lazy weekend I took a break from writing. A good friend was visiting in the guesthouse next door, and we decided to make a collective Sunday lunch. I was tasked with cooking the sweet potatoes, so I slicked down said potatoes with olive oil, draped them in sprigs of fresh rosemary, set them aside, turned on the oven to preheat and went for a glass of vino next door. After 20 minutes I went back to my oven to load the potatoes …

As I walked into the kitchen I was overpowered by the smell of burning rubber and the sight of thick black smoke curling out of the oven. Nooooo. The laptop. I stopped dead in my tracks, I screamed, I leapt many metres in the air, I went pale and sweaty, I clutched my madly beating heart. This was all in the nano second before I yanked open the oven door, seized the steaming laptop, tore off the burning rubber case, prised it open and stabbed at the “on” button.

OMG it was working! All downloads, documents, photographs and yes, my entire book, were still intact. The laptop’s CD drive had melted completely as had most of the bottom casing, giving it a rather Salvador Dali-esque appearance, but everything else seemed just fine, albeit hot and steamy. I dropped to my knees and gave thanks to every god and deity I could think of, tears of sheer relief sliding down my face.

Then I took a deep breath, put the sweet potatoes into the oven and went unsteadily back next door. Wine, I cried, wine. Now. There were shrieks of laughter as I recounted the sorry tale of my near death experience and downed several glasses to steady my shattered nerves.

You’re lucky it wasn’t an Apple Mac, chortled my friend, they have metal cases and you could have blown up the whole house never mind the entire block. But my laptop is a Samsung, which also makes a range of cooking appliances – haha – that promise a reduced cooking time and an even, thorough bake.

Mercifully I didn’t have one of those. Just a squishy, working laptop and its rubber case with my desperate handprint indelibly melted upon it.

As one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, once self-righteously pointed out, diligence is the mother of good luck, but then as English novelist Thomas Hardy said, some folks want their luck buttered.


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