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Lees: ’n tienjarige-boekliefhebber resenseer Hoe om ’n draak se toorn te tem vir LitNet

Die tienjarige Aden van Niekerk het onlangs die 12de boek in Cressida Cowell se gewilde Hoe om jou draak te tem-reeks (vertaal deur Kobus Geldenhuys) vir LitNet geresenseer. Hiér is wat die kranige leser (en knap skrywer!) van Cowell se nuutste aflewering gedink het:

Die heel eerste keer wat ek kennis gemaak het met hierdie stories van Cressida Cowell was deur die fliek How to train your dragon. Die boeke het eintlik al in 2003 in Engels verskyn, maar dis eers later in Afrikaans vertaal. Ek het die Hoe om jou draak te tem-boeke begin lees in April 2016 toe ek agt jaar oud was. Dis presies twee jaar gelede, ek is nou tien jaar oud en het dié naweek die laaste boek in die reeks gelees.

Boek twaalf se naam is Hoe om ’n draak se toorn te tem. Dit is ’n skreeusnaakse boek met ’n goeie storielyn en ek het regtig baie daarvan gehou. Dit is ’n konkelende storie, ’n mens-weet-nie-wat-gaan-gebeur-nie-tipe storie en die grappe is regtig snaaks. Dit speel in die Vikinglande af. Ek weet nie presies waar nie, maar dit is fiksie wat probeer om iewers naby Finland in te pas – dis mos die naaste Vikingland aan die Noordpool. Die Barbaarse Argipel (dit word ook die Wilderweste genoem) is vol eilande waar mense aanmekaar oorlog teen mekaar voer. Daar is ook wilde drake en mak drake. Mak drake is drake wat as babas gesteel is en opgelei is om te werk vir mense as slawe of om skootdiere (troeteldiere) te wees.

Die hoofkarakter van die storie is Harwarrus Horribalus Heldehelm die Derde. Hy kan Drakonees praat, die taal van drake. Hy is die enigste mens wat dit kan praat. Harwarrus veg daarteen dat die Wilderweste menslike en draaklike slawe sal aanhou en die enigste manier om dit reg te kry, is om self ’n koning te word. Maar daar is nie elke generasie ’n koning nie. Net as hy genoeg volgelinge kan kry en Grombaard die Gruwelike (die vorige koning van die Wilderweste) se tien verlore toebehore kan opspoor, kan hy as koning gekroon word. Deur die loop van die reeks boeke spoor Harwarrus die verlore toebehore op – dit is skatte soos ’n tandlose draak, Grombaard se tweede beste swaard, die Romeinse skild, die tik-tak-ding, die robynhartsteen, die pyl uit die land-wat-nie-bestaan-nie, die sleutel wat alle slotte oopsluit, die troon en die kroon. Die belangrikste toebehoorsel is die draakjuweel wat die mag het om alle drake vir ewig uit te wis.

Die grootste menslike vyand is Alvin die Verraderlike wat probeer om koning te word, en sy ma, die heks Excellinor. Dan is daar ’n draakvyand, die draak Verwoed. Hy is die leier van die draakrebellie en hulle is vol van die Rooi Raserny – dis wat die boeke dit noem. Hulle hou ’n rebellie omdat hulle wil hê daar moet nie meer draakslawe wees nie. Aan die begin van die twaalfde boek het Alvin die Verraderlike amper koning geword van die Wilderweste én Harwarrus het geen van die toebehore meer nie én die draakrebelle maak jag op Harwarrus!

Die twaalfde boek is so geskryf dat hy op sy eie kan staan sonder die ander boeke, maar dit sal baie beter wees as jy dit in die volgorde van die reeks lees, want dan verstaan mens hoe Harwarrus hiér uitgekom het en hoe hy dáár uitgekom het, waar dít vandaan kom en waar dát vandaan kom. Dis die dikste boek wat ek nog ooit gelees het (dis 471 bladsye lank), maar wat my laat aanhou lees het, is dat daar die heeltyd hoogtepunte is.

Lees Aden se volledige resensie hier.

Boekbesonderhede

'Leonhard Praeg's Imitation will grab you by the mind and spirit and not let go, even after you've finished reading it,' writes Robyn Sassen

Imitation happened when an unsuspecting philosopher one day found himself equally outraged by South African president Jacob Zuma’s Big Man building project in Nkandla; awed, all over again, by Milan Kundera’s Immortality; and numbed by the monument to hubris generally known as ‘the highest basilica in all of Christendom’, Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire.

Leonhard Praeg is head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. He has published a number of books on African philosophy, violence in the post-colony and African humanism. Imitation is his first novel.

Robyn Sassen recently wrote a rave review of Praeg’s lauded novel:

Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) did it.

Italian philosopher Umberto Eco (1932-2016) did it.

And now, there’s South African philosopher Leonhard Praeg with his debut novel weaving together a tale of self-reflection and intrigue; philosophy, politics and coincidence, to say nothing of love and tragedy in a way that will grab you by the mind and spirit and not let go, even after you’ve finished reading it.

Imitation is an extremely lucid narrative which doffs a hat to Czech writer Milan Kundera (b. 1929) as it plays intelligently and curiously with all the possibilities of what storytelling can be.

Granted, it doesn’t have the gravitas of Eco’s Name of the Rose, which engages the meaning of laughter in the world through a medieval cipher, but it sits comfortably on the same shelf.

Cast between a farm in the Karoo, an apartment in Paris and a building site on the Ivory Coast, among other places; it’s contemporary and sexy without being overworked or irrelevant and once you start reading it, you will not be able to remove yourself from its confines until the very last page.

The novel weaves together first person narrative with the back story of fictional characters developed through the pen of Kundera and truths that play with the notion of hubris in our world.

What Praeg is doing here is penetrating deeply into Kundera’s 1990 novel Immortality, and exploring the what ifs of that tale. In doing so, he finds other characters of his own, including a young man who is safe in the confines of his own silence and has survived 17 suicide attempts.

Continue reading Sassen’s review here.

Book details

"His Michael K has to stand on his own. And he manages to do just that." Lorraine Sithole reviews Nthikeng Mohlele's Michael K

Published in the Sunday Times

Michael K
****
Nthikeng Mohlele, Picador Africa, R220

Nthikeng Mohlele is brave to bring out a book under the heavy shadow of JM Coetzee’s classic The Life And Times Of Michael K. His Michael K has to stand on his own. And he manages to do just that. Mohlele writes his story beautifully with a tactile sensuality. He arranges words, sentences and paragraphs like a gifted composer.

The book begins with Miles, the narrator. We are then transported to Dust Island where Miles meets Michael K, who has nothing but the rags on his body, a few seeds, a bent spoon and a string.

Miles spends 31 months on the island, hoping that being with Michael K will awaken his inner poet. In those months, he is fascinated by Michael K’s harmonious existence with nature. No more than two words are exchanged between them, and Michael K remains an enigma to Miles as he lives a life devoid of earthly trappings.

Miles leaves Dust Island following a tragic event. He settles in Johannesburg with the intention of writing poetry, a quest he hopes will get him to live on the periphery of life. Miles soon discovers that, unlike Michael K, he cannot exist merely by the soil.

Miles becomes consumed by Michael K. He questions, prods and dissects Michael K’s existence. How does a man grow into an adult having not touched and experienced carnal pleasures? A shot of good whisky? A great piece of steak? Having not voted? Not participated in a protest?

Michael K survived wars and deprivation but came out with his soul well on the other side. Maybe, just maybe, Miles thinks, we are not fully living because of the societal, economic, political and cultural pressures. Maybe Michael K was the answer to a life of true freedom for he was beholden to no one. To nothing.

As in his previous novels Rusty Bell and Pleasure, Mohlele writes with an orchestral precision about the nature of pleasure and existence. Lorraine Sithole @LS3841

Book details

’n Uiters tydige huldeblyk aan Milan Kundera - Joan Hambidge resenseer Leonhard Praeg se Imitation

Imitation is a strikingly original work of great subtlety, complexity, imagination, originality, and a clear homage to Milan Kundera’s Immortality. I have never read a novel quite like this.’ – JASON M. WIRTH, Commiserating with Devastated Things: Milan Kundera and the Entitlements of Thinking

‘Imitation is challenging, ambitious and intelligent. It is a fascinating and adventurous parallel to Immortality that is intriguingly and playfully managed; an impressive and carefully considered novel that takes some of Milan Kundera’s most enigmatic thoughts and modernises them.’ – ANDREW BROWN, 2006 recipient of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for Coldsleep Lullaby

‘With stylistic virtuosity, Praeg successfully enacts the tempestuous relationship between philosophy and fiction while elegantly and eloquently exploring the relationship between coloniser and colonised subjects. It is a brilliant, sparkling novel that heralds a very thoughtful, new voice on the South African literary scene.’ – SAM NAIDU, Associate Professor of Literary Theory, World Literatures, and English Literature, Rhodes University

Imitation

 
Imitation happened when an unsuspecting philosopher one day found himself equally outraged by South African president Jacob Zuma’s Big Man building project in Nkandla; awed, all over again, by Milan Kundera’s Immortality; and numbed by the monument to hubris generally known as ‘the highest basilica in all of Christendom’, Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire.

Leonhard Praeg is head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. He has published a number of books on African philosophy, violence in the post-colony and African humanism. Imitation is his first novel.

Joan Hambidge het onlangs Praeg se roman gerenseer; hiér deel sy haar opinies:

Leonhard Praeg se roman Imitation beslaan 300 bladsye. Dit is ‘n roman wat gepubliseer is deur ‘n akademiese uitgewershuis en die skrywer is ‘n professor in filosofie. Boonop tree dit in gesprek met Milan Kundera se beroemde roman Immortality (1990), en word ook betekenisvol opgedra aan Kundera as ‘n geskenk.

Immortality vorm deel van ‘n trilogie, te wete The Book of Laugher and Forgetting en The Unbeararable Lightness of Being.

Soos Kundera se roman hou dit nie by die gewone plot-konvensies nie. Dit is veral ‘n roman van allusies en intertekste. Die leser word ‘n toehoorder en onderrig in die betekenis van lees. Wat is lewe? Wat is dood? In Kundera se roman is daar ‘n vriendskap tussen Goethe en Hemingway in die ander oord.

Praeg erken dat hy karakters en dialoog oorgeneem het – soos Professor Avenarius.

Hierdie roman begin traag, maar wanneer dit jou beetpak en jy die sleutel waarin dit geskryf is, snap, word dit ‘n besonderse leeservaring. Dit bevat selfs sketse van die St Peters basilika (p. 100 -103). Hier word daar kommentaar gelewer op Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, ‘n nabootsing van die oorspronklike, maar groter as die eerste.

Lees Hambidge se volledige resensie hier.

Book details

"An excellent novel about the issue of comfort women" - Margaret von Klemperer reviews Mary Lynn's Bracht's White Chrysanthemum

Published in the Witness: 12/04/2017

White Chrysanthemum
Mary Lynn Bracht, Chatto & Windus

THE issue of “comfort women”, kidnapped by Japanese forces from Korea and China and forced into prostitution for the use of their soldiers is one that has simmered shamefully along since the end of the Second World War.

Neither the Japanese nor the Korean governments have shown sufficient willingness to confront the issue, let alone insist on a genuine apology or reparations from the Japanese side. It has taken determination by the surviving women themselves – now very few – and other activists to drag this horrible episode into the light. They erected a bronze statue of a comfort woman, the Statue of Peace, in Seoul opposite the Japanese embassy: the Japanese demand its removal as the precursor to any kind of admission or apology.

Mary Lynn Bracht, a Korean-American, has taken the subject of comfort women for her very impressive debut novel.

The politics and history of Japan, Korea, China, Manchuria and Mongolia are little known in the West, and make a fascinating and elegantly illuminated backdrop for the stories of two sisters, Hana and Emi. They live on the island of Jeju off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula and are the daughters of a haenyeo, one of the women who dive for fish and crustaceans. Even under Japanese occupation, it was a powerful, matriarchal society, now sadly reduced to little more than a tourist attraction.

Bracht’s novel is told in alternating chapters by Hana and Emi. Hana’s are set in 1943, the year in which, as a young woman diver, she rushed out of the sea in an effort to save her little sister from a Japanese soldier she saw approaching. She did save Emi, but was herself taken captive and removed to a life of abuse and rape at a military brothel in Mongolia. Emi’s story is set in 2011 when she is an elderly woman, consumed by guilt that her sister vanished while protecting her and still desperately trying to find her, or at least discover where she went and what was her fate.

Perhaps Bracht is guilty of striving a little too hard for a sense of closure, if not exactly a happy ending to a story that ended badly for the estimated two hundred thousand women taken into slavery and for those left behind, but this is fiction and in White Chrysanthemum, she has created two powerful and unforgettable characters. And shone a spotlight not only onto an episode that should never be forgotten but onto the plight of women and girls in all theatres of war. An excellent novel.

Book details

Read - Business Day reviews Linda Chisholm's Between Worlds: German Missionaries and the Transition from Mission to Bantu Education in South Africa

The transition from apartheid to the post-apartheid era has highlighted questions about the past and the persistence of its influence in present-day South Africa. This is particularly so in education, where the past continues to play a decisive role in relation to inequality. Between Worlds: German Missionaries and the Transition from Mission to Bantu Education in South Africa scrutinises the experience of a hitherto unexplored German mission society, probing the complexities and paradoxes of social change in education. It raises challenging questions about the nature of mission education legacies.

Linda Chisholm shows that the transition from mission to Bantu Education was far from seamless. Instead, past and present interpenetrated one another, with resistance and compliance cohabiting in a complex new social order. At the same time as missionaries complied with the new Bantu Education dictates, they sought to secure a role for themselves in the face of demands of local communities for secular statecontrolled education. When the latter was implemented in a perverted form from the mid-1950s, one of its tools was textbooks in local languages developed by mission societies as part of a transnational project, with African participation. Introduced under the guise of expunging European control, Bantu Education merely served to reinforce such control.

The response of local communities was an attempt to domesticate – and master – the ‘foreign’ body of the mission so as to create access to a larger world. This book focuses on the ensuing struggle, fought on many fronts, including medium of instruction and textbook content, with concomitant sub-texts relating to gender roles and sexuality.

South Africa’s educational history is to this day informed by networks of people and ideas crossing geographic and racial boundaries. The colonial legacy has inevitably involved cultural mixing and hybridisation – with, paradoxically, parallel pleas for purity. Chisholm explores how these ideas found expression in colliding and coalescing worlds, one African, the other European, caught between mission and apartheid education.

Yvonne Fontyn recently reviewed Chisholm’s remarkable book for Business Day. This is what she thought:

Mission schools have a mixed reputation in former colonies. They are lauded for offering a liberal and sound education when the state failed to do so, but they are also considered to have played a large role in colonial conquest.

Many well-known South African leaders attended mission schools, including Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and Ellen Kuzwayo.

However, in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela relates the mixed messages he received at mission schools in the Eastern Cape. At his primary school in Qunu, his teacher Miss Mdingane gave the young Rolihlahla his English name Nelson.

“The education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture and British institutions were automatically assumed to be superior,” he writes.

“There was no such thing as African culture.”

Later, he attended the Clarkebury Institute, where, he writes: “For the first time, I was taught by teachers who had themselves been properly educated. Several of them held university degrees, which was extremely rare.”

The college was founded on land donated by the Thembu king Ngubengcuka, illustrating the close ties that existed before apartheid between missions and traditional leaders.

One of the aims of a new book by Prof Linda Chisholm of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Education Rights and Transformation is to point out these binary perceptions of mission schooling.

Continue reading Fontyn’s review here.

Between Worlds

Book details

  • Between Worlds: German Missionaries and the Transition from Mission to Bantu Education in South Africa by Linda Chisholm
    EAN: 978-1-77614-174-6
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