Uitspraak: wortel met kritiek
Die boek bied beslis ’n paar uur se lekker lees, en Rautenbach se manier om foto’s met teks te verweef werp weer eens goeie resultate af.
Sonder die teenwoordigheid van die nuwe, jonger belangrike niefiksie-stemme soos Erns Grundlingh, Toast Coetzer, Willemien Brümmer, Bibi Slippers en selfs die ouer Dana Snyman en Kirby van der Merwe, staan “Mooiloop” egter te stewig met sy een voet in die verlede. En kan die leser nie verhelp om te wonder of hierdie voortdurende geterugkykery dalk ’n bydrae gelewer het tot sluiting van die tydskrif waarna dit vernoem is nie.
Photo: Gabrielle Guy
Joanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Alexander Matthews. His story “Entropy” was selected for inclusion in the anthology.
Alexander Matthews is a freelance writer and the editor of AERODROME (aerodrome.co.za), a showcase of words and people which features book reviews, extracts, interviews and original short stories and poetry. He has written for MONOCLE, House & Leisure, Marie Claire SA and The Times (South Africa), amongst other titles, and is contributing editor of the award-winning Business Day WANTED.
Matthews’s poetry and prose blog is The Marginal Obscura (marginalobscura.com). His short story, In Betty’s Bay, was included in The Ghost-eater and Other Stories, an anthology published by Umuzi in 2013.
Your story “Entropy”, of love and loss, reveals the relationship of a gay couple through to marriage. What inspired the tale?
The characters seemed to emerge by themselves, just as I was thinking about the concept of gay marriage and the potential impact it can have on people’s lives – both inside the union and beyond it. Of course equality is enshrined in law, but gay marriage does throw up some interesting – and sometimes difficult – scenarios, in which people from a variety of religious and social contexts can struggle to accept it.
Is it important to you to explore gay themes? Can you comment on SA being one of the first countries to acknowledge gay marriage?
It’s absolutely essential for gay lives to be written about. The more this happens, the more ignorance and prejudice can be eroded. There are still a lot of people who treat gays with fear and suspicion, considering them aberrant outsiders. While it can’t do it alone, literature can play a powerful role in deepening empathy and understanding about things affecting gay people. Literature can also provide a sense of comfort and connection to gays facing stigma and persecution or who are simply yearning for stories that they can relate to or be inspired by.
It was wonderful that South Africa was the first African country to recognise gay marriage, following on from its remarkable constitution being the first in the world to ban discrimination on the basis of sexuality. But while our constitution leads the way in equality, we still have much to do to ensure this translates into a society which genuinely allows all, gays included, to live and love freely and without persecution.
How did politics influence the story’s formation?
Politics is perhaps more tightly bound to the personal in South Africa than in many other countries. The political dimension to the story was something that happened organically; the character Amir emerged as clearly having a party political background. Why? That’s one of the mysteries of character development. Regardless, it was something I had fun with, particularly since opposition politicians seem to be rather under-represented in local fiction, and the specificity of Amir’s political background made the non-existent, in some way, hyper-real.
Yet “Entropy”, apart from the politics of it all, tells a universal tale of the love triangle which will appeal to a wide readership.
This story doesn’t try to portray gay people as unique or different – simply as human beings leading lives that are as complex (and perhaps sometimes even more so) than their straight counterparts. There is a tug between love, lust, responsibility and abandon; and the tensions between these impulses are indeed universal. But in the specificity encountered in the intersections between the story’s characters, I touch on the complexities stemming from homosexuality being considered taboo in some families and cultures. Amir, Luke and James are not defined by their sexuality or by their circumstances; but their milieu does still exert a powerful – and at times potentially corrosive – affect on their lives and relationships.
“Entropy”, written in clean and straightforward prose, has a rhythm, if you like, of the everyday….
Life isn’t necessarily lyrical — it’s messy and complicated. And I suppose you don’t need highfalutin phrasing or ripe imagery to convey the complexity of ordinary lives. Perhaps less adorned prose can sometimes carry greater power; perhaps not. That’s something for the reader to decide.
Generally what are your interests as a writer?
I’m interested in people, in the tensions and connections between the individual and the broader social, cultural and political context they form a part of.
And of course, that quintessential question: what are currently working on?
No surprises there – I’m working on a novel.
Part of your day job so to speak though (whenever you do it!) is running your online literary magazine, Aerodrome. How is that going for you? Are you excited about SA writing?
Editing AERODROME is lots of hard work but a deeply rewarding experience. It’s thrilling to be publishing great poetry and short fiction — not just from SA, but from all over the world.
Thanks, Alex, for a provocative story, and for everything you do to promote fiction.
The stories in this anthology have been selected from some 150 entries submitted for the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories competition. As with all such collections, the quality of the twenty-two individual pieces varies. The authors range from first-time-published to award-winning practitioners of the genre. Additionally, in this particular case, every reader’s sexual preferences will strongly influence their reading of these diverse contributions. Sex in all its permutations is a highly personal experience, as is writing and reading about it. Hats off to the editor and all the authors for their daring explorations of the mine-fields of our sexualities.
As Aryan Kaganof’s narrator states, “there is no love that is not an echo”; he also understands that “real sex happens in the head”. Erotic stories are like lovers. They will either satisfy you or leave you wanting.
Regter William de Villiers, die voorsitter van die TuksAlumni-raad, het bekend gemaak dat Irma Joubert op Vrydag 21 November 2014 vereer sal word met ’n TuksAlumni Laureaattoekening 2014. Dit is die hoogste toekenning wat deur Alumni van die Universiteit van Pretoria gemaak kan word.
Ontvangers van die TuksAlumni Laureaattoekening kry ’n brons kunswerk, gemonteer op swart graniet. Dié kunswerk is ontwerp en gegiet deur Angus van Zyl Taylor, ook ’n Oud-Tukkie.
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Joubert is tans in Nederland as deel van die “de Week van de Afrikaanse roman” wat deur Ingrid Glorie gereël word.
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Dit is die tweede groot eer wat Irma Joubert te beurt val in 2014. Sy is naamlik vroeër vanjaar in Nederland bekroon met die Publieksprijs Christelijk Boek 2014 in die kategorie vertaalde fiksie.
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Irma Joubert is gebore en getoë in die Bosveld (Nylstroom) en het aan die Universiteit van Pretoria studeer. Sy het vir 35 jaar onderwys gegee (Afrikaans en Geskiedenis vir senior sekondêre leerders) voordat sy einde 2004 afgetree en begin skryf het. Sy het ook as vryskut-joernalis verskeie artikels en kortverhale in tydskrifte gepubliseer. In 2005 is sy aangewys as Media24 se “Spesialisjoernalis van die Jaar” en was ’n Mondi-finalis.
Irma Joubert skryf historiese romans, want geskiedenis is haar passie. Haar bekendste boeke is Verbode drif, Ver wink die Suiderkruis, Tussen stasies en Tolbos, asook die trilogie Anderkant Pontenilo, Pérsomi en Kronkelpad wat by NB verskyn het.
In 2008 was Joubert ’n finalis in die ATKV-Woordveertjieprys vir Prosa met Tussen stasies, en in 2010 wen Anderkant Pontenilo die ATKV-Woordveertjieprys vir Liefdesromans. Sy was ook finalis in die ATKV-Woordveertjieprys vir Liefdesromans met Kronkelpad in 2011.
Sy is al meer as 40 jaar lank getroud met Jan en woon in Bloemfontein. Hulle het drie volwasse seuns, ’n skoondogter, ’n pleegdogter en drie kleinkinders.
Ná hulle aftrede, reis Irma en Jan baie, veral met hulle 4×4 die boendoes in. Die skootrekenaar en ’n sonpaneel reis saam.
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Die outeur is tans in Nederland, maar sal binnekort beskikbaar wees vir onderhoude, kontak gerus vir Izak de Vries om ’n onderhoud te reël.
Foto deur Izak de Vries
Joanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Efemia Chela. Her story “Perigee” was selected for inclusion in the anthology.
Efemia Chela was born in Zambia in 1991, grew up in England, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa, studied at Rhodes University and the Institut D’Etudes Politiques in Aix-En-Provence, and now lives in Cape Town. Her short stories, Chicken and Feast, Famine And Potluck, were shortlisted for the 2013 Short Story Day Africa competition and 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing respectively. When she grows up she says she would like to be a midwife of great literature, a (better) writer, a translator, subtitler and graphic novelist. She is married to a film camera. They go everywhere together and have many square children. Follow Efemia on Twitter @efemiachela.
Are you a fan of erotica?
I’ve read a little bit of erotica like The Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin and some Hentai. But not much. Perhaps I should read more of the genre. I’d need recommendations.
I would recommend that you start with Adults Only, for a slice of SA erotica! To get straight to your story “Perigee”, you write about sexual experimentation, also sexual predation. Can you comment on this?
The story was inspired by the need to express the heady desire of youth but at the same time the impotence of youth. I think I left a lot of ambiguity in the story for who was the predator and who was being predated. In a lot of ways the story is about being blissfully destroyed consensually.
The preoccupation your characters have with sexual identity – is that a reflection of what’s happening in a youth culture?
I think sexual orientation is, and has always been, a focus of young people who are finding and concretising who they are, as they are told adults are supposed to do. As to whether it’s more prevalent today, I think it is, because it’s more in the open. In privileged circles (like university) people are allowed to identify as pansexual or neutrois or what have you with less judgement.
With the (sadly) negative focus on lesbian love in the media, did you set out to be provocative?
I didn’t set out to be provocative but I would like to see more LGBTIQ characters in fiction. I think it’s a shame that there are so few lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, inter-sex and questioning characters in African fiction. I want to write about all kinds of people (particularly those who have previously been, or are, silenced or stigmatised). I also wanted to thicken the plot by having characters with fluid sexuality. So I did. Mainly I just wanted to show a complex relationship. Straight relationships and gay relationships hold the same value for me, so I find it no different to what I may have written about a heterosexual couple.
I love the cryptic title “Perigee”. Tell us more…
Pronounced peri-jee, I chose it because it’s a beautiful word. It refers to when the moon in the course of its orbit reaches the closest point to the Earth. Colloquially this occurrence is referred to as a supermoon, like the one we had in early August this year. The two heavenly bodies are close, linked and yet never actually touch, which relates to the state of the protagonist in the story and the characters around her. I think I also chose it because it is a little known word and, similarly, the protagonist is struggling to get know herself.
How have competitions such as these helped you?
Competitions have helped me because I needed a challenge. I also needed some guidance at first, like a theme or a word limit in order to contain my imagination, but still let it sing in a more accessible, ordered state. They’ve also raised my writer self-esteem a bit and, I imagine, my profile in the writing world.
Certainly your short-listing for the Caine Prize was a Coup!
I don’t have much of an oeuvre; I’m quite new to the writing game. My first short story “Chicken” is available to read on the Caine website (www.caineprize.com).
As a young writer, what would you like to explore through your writing?
I’d like my writing to take a longer form and for me to be able sustain a great narrative and interesting characters for longer, like in the form of a novel. I like to explore themes of growing up (whatever that means), placelessness, the complexity of life in 21st Africa. I like to write about oddities, whether odd people or odd situations.
Currently I’m rewriting some rejected short stories and thinking of turning one into a novella.
I’d love to write more short stories and flash fiction. I have a soft spot for both forms. I’d like my-first-bound-published-put in-bookstore-work to be a graphic novel and then, who knows?
Thanks, Efemia, we look forward to more from you as you explore and experiment.
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho, the author of A Traumatic Revenge and The Violent Gestures of Life, was a guest at the Beijing International Book Fair recently, along with Sihle Khumalo, Professor Andries Oliphant, Primrose Mrwebi and Bathandwa Mcuba.
The trip was a first Mukwevho, who had never flown overseas before, and he says the highlights were the roundtable discussions he took part in with writers in Beijing and Tianjin, discussing recent developments in South African and Chinese literature.
“It dawned on me, during these discussions, that writers in China and SA have a lot in common – we share a love of reading and a passion for writing,” he said.
Phathutshedzo Luvhengo wrote an article for the Limpopo Mirror on Mukwevho’s experiences in China:
“The CWA welcomed us heartily and we spent all those days experiencing the history and cultural heritage of the country,” Mukwevho said. “We got to Beijing in the evening and the following morning we visited the magnificent Forbidden City.”
The great achievements in literature from ancient times to the present were also brought to the writers’ attention. A visit to the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature and the former residence of the late highly regarded Chinese playwright, Mr Cao Yu, revealed the beauty of Chinese literary history. “I noticed that the people of China, or those in power, work hand in glove with artists to see that the needs of the artists are met, and that all practising artists’ works are documented in museums,” he said.