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Bridge Books discussion: Intruders by Mohale Mashigo (29 September)

Intruders
Synonyms: trespassers, interlopers, invaders, prowlers, infiltrators, encroachers, violators

 
Orphan sisters chase monsters of urban legend in Bloemfontein. At a busy taxi rank, a woman kills a man with her shoe. A genomicist is accused of playing God when she creates a fatherless child.

Intruders is a collection that explores how it feels not to belong. These are stories of unremarkable people thrust into extraordinary situations by events beyond their control.

With a unique and memorable touch, Mohale Mashigo explores the everyday ills we live with and wrestle constantly, all the while allowing hidden energies to emerge and play out their unforeseen consequences.

Intruders is speculative fiction at its best.

MOHALE MASHIGO, is the author of the widely acclaimed and best-selling novel, The Yearning, which won the University of Johannesburg 2016 Debut Prize for South African Writing in English, as well as of Beyond the River, a young adult adaptation of the movie of the same name. She is also an award-winning singer, songwriter and comic book writer for the Kwezi series.

Event Details

Launch: Intruders by Mohale Mashigo (27 September)

Intruders
Synonyms: trespassers, interlopers, invaders, prowlers, infiltrators, encroachers, violators

 
Orphan sisters chase monsters of urban legend in Bloemfontein. At a busy taxi rank, a woman kills a man with her shoe. A genomicist is accused of playing God when she creates a fatherless child.

Intruders is a collection that explores how it feels not to belong. These are stories of unremarkable people thrust into extraordinary situations by events beyond their control.

With a unique and memorable touch, Mohale Mashigo explores the everyday ills we live with and wrestle constantly, all the while allowing hidden energies to emerge and play out their unforeseen consequences.

Intruders is speculative fiction at its best.

MOHALE MASHIGO, is the author of the widely acclaimed and best-selling novel, The Yearning, which won the University of Johannesburg 2016 Debut Prize for South African Writing in English, as well as of Beyond the River, a young adult adaptation of the movie of the same name. She is also an award-winning singer, songwriter and comic book writer for the Kwezi series.

Event Details

"A collection of stories about nobodies who discover that they matter" - Mohale Mashigo discusses Intruders with Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi

Published in the Sunday Times

By Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi

The acclaimed author of Intruders, Mohale Mashigo. Picture: Sydelle Willow Smith.

 

Intruders ****
Mohale Mashigo, Picador Africa, R180

“A collection of stories about nobodies who discover that they matter.” That is how Mohale Mashigo describes her latest, Intruders. And while the short stories are set in the future (yet deeply rooted in the past) SA, and they feature familiar characters, the author requests that we don’t label the tales in Intruders “Afrofuturism”.

She says Afrofuturism (the genre du jour in literature, film and – as Nando’s points out in their latest cheeky ad – marketing) doesn’t “feel like the right coat to dress my stories in”.

And once you’ve devoured all 12 stories in the book, you understand why Mashigo feels the need for that disclaimer in the first place. To refer to Intruders as Afrofuturism is lazy and inaccurate. The stories aren’t as performative as that label would suggest and while they have a strong sense of familiarity, it’s not in a “seen this all before”, unoriginal way.

The familiarity in Intruders is both comforting and disconcerting. The people in the stories could be our friends, our families, our neighbours – they could be us. The settings are familiar to anyone who knows any corner of this land. That makes it harder to dismiss these tales of werewolves, mutants, monster slayers, shapeshifters and magicians as just tales of fiction.

It’s difficult to do so when you get sucked into them quickly because you recognise the world they are set in. Some of the stories themselves are inspired by or make reference to tales that many of us grew up on.

About this, Mashigo says: “Some of our stories are so magical, scary and downright beautiful. I wanted to show people that there is value in what we have … Our things are nice too!”

For instance, “BnB in Bloem”, a story about two sisters who hunt monsters, brings up the legendary story of Vera the Ghost.

There are a few different versions of Vera’s story, but the basic premise is that she is a beautiful hitchhiker ghost picked up by men who would sleep with her and then later wake up at her gravesite. In “BnB” Vera isn’t just one apparition, but many, who are terrorising men. All of the Veras have died at the hands of the opposite sex, and are out for revenge.

“We would never have to deal with a Vera if men would stop killing women,” one of the sisters says. Imagine if every woman in SA murdered by a man returned for retribution.

That’s part of the beauty of Intruders: it is also a commentary on gender, violence, race, addiction and class in SA done masterfully and in such unexpected ways that stumbling across bits of commentary in the stories feels like discovering sweets you didn’t know were hidden in your pockets.

Take “Once Upon a Town”, for instance. It’s the tale of two brilliant children who were both the hope of their families and communities, who end up hiding in the shadows because of afflictions they have no control over.

Streetlights reflect off the Orange River in Upington. Picture: 123rf.com/Demerzel21

 
While it’s a charming love story, “Once Upon” is also incredibly sad because – while it deals with the supernatural – it’s such a familiar South African tale.

The tale of brilliance that flourished in the sun for a while before being snuffed out by circumstances beyond the control of the gifted; the gifted kids who grew up in a place that wasn’t made to nourish their kind; the gifted kids who were the hopes of their families and communities for a better life; the gifted kids who, in the end, couldn’t escape the world they lived in.

One of the best stories in the Book is “Little Vultures”, a sci-fi fantasy set in a Jurassic Park-esque world, minus the horror (well, at least in the beginning). Basically, a sci-fi Garden of Eden. A widowed scientist, who is a pariah because of an experiment, lives on a farm with the animals she has created or resurrected. She is joined by two women, both coping with their own pain in different ways (one through cosmetic surgery, the other through isolation).

While the story is a literary Venn diagram about science and magic, at its heart is a stunning tale of loss, grief, loneliness and the value of life. The story ends on a suspenseful note, which is both fantastic and frustrating. Frustrating because you want to know more.

And that is the only disappointment with the tales in Intruders: how incomplete they feel. It’s as though Mashigo sucks the reader into her supernatural world as quickly as she spits you out from it. A lot of the stories leave you feeling like an addict who needs a fix. More please. @Pearloysias

Book details

The cover of Mohale Mashigo's new short story collection has been revealed!

Intruders
Synonyms: trespassers, interlopers, invaders, prowlers, infiltrators, encroachers, violators

 
Orphan sisters chase monsters of urban legend in Bloemfontein. At a busy taxi rank, a woman kills a man with her shoe. A genomicist is accused of playing God when she creates a fatherless child.

Intruders is a collection that explores how it feels not to belong. These are stories of unremarkable people thrust into extraordinary situations by events beyond their control.

With a unique and memorable touch, Mohale Mashigo explores the everyday ills we live with and wrestle constantly, all the while allowing hidden energies to emerge and play out their unforeseen consequences.

Intruders is speculative fiction at its best.

MOHALE MASHIGO, is the author of the widely acclaimed and best-selling novel, The Yearning, which won the University of Johannesburg 2016 Debut Prize for South African Writing in English, as well as of Beyond the River, a young adult adaptation of the movie of the same name. She is also an award-winning singer, songwriter and comic book writer for the Kwezi series.

Intrigued by the revealing the cover for yourself? Try your hand at it here.

Book details

"Who’s going to get lucky tonight?" Kate Sidley on her three current literary love interests (and not to worry, Steven - they're only books!)

Published in the Sunday Times

I arrive home from the book launch with a new love interest. Maybe it was the wine. I shouldn’t have had that second glass, we all know how it lowers the defences. Not that that’s any excuse. I know it was entirely my doing. Be that as it may, here I am with not one, but two … shall we say … prospects.

The one was a given, I knew I was going to purchase the launch book, The Season of Glass, the new novel by Rahla Xenopolous. But then the bookstore owner, who knows me and my weakness so well, said, “That book you were asking about just came in.”

It is Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, and it’s fresh and new, all decked out with the gold stamp of the Pulitzer Prize 2018. The very many cover shouts are glowing and there’s the word “hilarious” – nothing does it for me like hilarious – and then “bedazzling” and “endearing”.

I take both books.

I get home and clamber over the mountain of unread and partially read books that I believe was, some time in the early 2000s, a small bedside table. On top is my avowed current partner – Ken Barris’s award-winning The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions.
 
Ooh, I love it. Properly, deeply love it. Wouldn’t leave it for anything. But this wouldn’t be leaving. It is a short story collection, and short story collections are by definition polyamorous. They don’t mind if you go off and frolic in other pastures for a bit. In fact, they expect it. After a dalliance, I find that I return to the relationship with renewed interest and delight.

Having made peace with a small break from Worm (it’s not you, it’s me, I tell him) I read the first few pages of The Season of Glass. You have to read the first pages on the night of the book launch. It’s the done thing. Well, it’s my done thing. The book’s a beauty, really a knock-out, but I’m not shallow, I don’t want to objectify my new love interest. It’s marvellous on the inside, too and though it’s early days, it feels like we’ve got something going.

This morning, when honest to God I should be working and not mucking around in bed with strange new books, I spot Less. In the spirit of research and professionalism (I am after all a book reviewer, and we have responsibilities), I open it up. Just a page or two. To see what all the fuss is about. I won’t lie. I’m intrigued.

Help me, then, with the eternal question of the reader – who’s going to get lucky tonight? @KateSidley

Kate Sidley is the author of 100 Mandela Moments (Jonathan Ball, R190)

The Season of Glass

Book details
The Season of Glass by Rahla Xenopoulos
EAN: 9781415209578
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 
Less

Less by Andrew Sean Greer
EAN: 9780349143590
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 

The Life of Worm

The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptiosn by Ken Barris
EAN: 9780795707957
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Short Sharp Stories Award announces panel of judges for 2018

Via Short.Sharp.Stories.

 
Our panel of judges for this year’s Short Sharp Stories Award are drawn from different literary arenas, with expertise ranging from poetry and prose to journalism and creative non-fiction.

They are currently reading the shortlisted stories and we will be announcing the winning stories soon. Each of our judges selected five entries to make up the twenty stories in the final collection, and they will also select the winning entries for this year’s competition.

Diane Awerbuck wrote Gardening at Night, which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean). Her short story collection Cabin Fever was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. Her story ‘Leatherman’ won the 2015 Short Story Day Africa competition. She co-writes a frontier-fiction series with Alex Latimer (under the nom de plume Frank Owen).

Rustum Kozain is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed poets. He has won both the Ingrid Jonker prize and the Olive Schreiner Prize for his debut poetry collection, This Carting Life.

Megan Ross is the author of Milk Fever, an acclaimed poetry debut published by uHlanga. She won the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction in 2017. She is an alumni of the Iceland Writers Retreat, and her work has featured in numerous publications (including the Short Sharp Stories anthologies).

Bongani Kona is a writer and editor at Chimurenga, a pan-African publication of arts, culture and politics. His writing has appeared in a number of anthologies and collections. He was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize for a story which appeared in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories anthology Incredible Journey, and he is the co-editor of Migrations, a short story collection that was published in 2017.