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Book launch: The Life of Worm by Ken Barris

The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions is a collection of new and critically acclaimed short stories by award-winning author Ken Barris. They combine everyday events with the surreal: the title is centered on a dog called Worm; in another, a husband and wife quarrel over a plugless lamp; and in another, a man encounters a speaking baboon in his kitchen. Lyrical and humorous, these stories concretise the human condition via the author’s characteristically unfettered style.

Event Details

Farah Ahamed and Sarah Waiswa joint winners of Gerald Kraak 2017 Award

Gerald Kraak


Sarah Waiswa and Farah Ahamed

The Other Foundation and the Jacana Literary Foundation recently hosted the presentation of the inaugural Gerald Kraak Prize and the launch of Pride and Prejudice: the Gerald Kraak Anthology of African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice, and Sexuality, at Hyde Park’s Exclusive Books’ Social Kitchen and Bar.

The MC for the evening, Kojo Baffoe, proclaimed that “tonight is about celebrating Gerald Kraak’s legacy.”

Pride and Prejudice is a collection of the short-listed entries to the inaugural award, named after Gerald Kraak (1956–2014), who was a passionate champion of social justice and an anti-apartheid activist.

“This book is a shelter, a place where slums are not art, they are simply where we live. It’s a place where albinos are not unicorns, they are only beautiful and ordinary. And it’s a place where gays are pained and also completely conventional. In this book, strange choppers fly and Africa is a landscape not simply for the past but for projections of the future,” says Sisonke Msimang, Editor in Chief and Head Judge.

The Gerald Kraak Award is a joint initiative between The Other Foundation and the Jacana Literary Foundation.

A judging panel made up of distinguished gender activist Sisonke Msimang, prominent social and political analyst Eusebius McKaiser and leading African feminist Sylvia Tamale selected thirteen finalists.

“The stories in the anthology fight for what is just and right,” Baffoe asserted.

Research co-coordinator for The Other Foundation, Samuel Shapiro, announced that Pride and Prejudice is the first of five anthologies to come about celebrating the LGBTQI community in Africa.

After the attendees were treated to a performance by Danielle Bowler, Msimang delivered a televised message to all the entrants, lauding them for their creativity and “bad-ass” approach to discussing gender and sexuality in Africa.

Matele announced the joint winners for the anthology: Farah Ahamed (Fiction, Kenya) for her short story “Poached Eggs” and Sarah Waisman (Photography, Kenya) for her photo series “Stranger in a Familiar Land.”

“Poached Eggs” is described as a subtle, slow and careful rendering of the everyday rhythms of domestic terror that pays homage to the long history of women’s resistance; yet with wit and humour and grit, the story also sings of freedom, of resistance and the desire to be unbound.

“Stranger in a Familiar Land” showcases the best of African storytelling. The images take risks, and speak to danger and subversion. At the same time they are deeply rooted in places that are familiar to urban Africans. The woman in this collection is a stand-in for all of us.

All 13 entries which were shortlisted will be published in the anthology. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of R25 000.

Cape Town launch: The Swimming Lesson and other stories

UKZN Press and the Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Kobus Moolman’s short story anthology The Swimming Lesson and other stories on the 13th of June.

Event Details

2017 Caine Prize Shortlist announced

The five-writer shortlist for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced by Chair of judges, award winning author, poet and editor, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. The list includes a former Caine Prize shortistee and features a story translated form Arabic for the second time in the 18 year history of the Prize.

Nii Parkes said the shortlist ‘reveals the depth and strength of short story writing from Africa and its diaspora.’

‘This year’s submissions were a pleasure to read; we were all impressed by the quality and imaginative ambition of the work received. Indeed, there were a dozen stories that did not make the shortlist that would win other competitions.’

He continued, ‘there seemed to be a theme of transition in many of the stories. Whether it’s an ancient myth brought to life in a contemporary setting, a cyber attack-triggered wave of migration and colonisation, an insatiable quest for motherhood, an entertaining surreal ride that hints at unspeakable trauma, or the loss of a parent in the midst of a personal identity crisis, these writers juxtapose future, past and present to ask important questions about the world we live in.’

‘Although they range in tone from the satirical to the surreal, all five stories on this year’s shortlist are unrelentingly haunting. It has been a wonderful journey so far and we look forward to selecting a winner. It will be a hard job, but I’ve always believed that you can’t go wrong with a Ghanaian at the helm of an international panel.’

The 2017 shortlist comprises:

Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ published in The New Yorker (USA. 2015)
Read ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’

Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, USA. 2015)
Read ‘Bush Baby’

Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan) for ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press, UK. 2016)
Read ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’

Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
Read ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’

Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’ published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)
Read ‘The Virus’

The full panel of judges joining Nii Ayikwei Parkes includes the 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko; accomplished author and Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; and distinguished African literary scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac, University of Southampton.

The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at Senate House Library, London, in partnership with SOAS, on Monday 3 July. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.

Each of these stories will be published in New Internationalist’s 2017 Caine Prize anthology The Goddess of Mwtara and Other Stories in June and through co-publishers in 16 African countries, who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.

Come see Modjaji's Stellar Authors at the Franschhoek Literary Festival

Franshhoek Literary Festival

This year’s edition of the annual Franschhoek Literary Festival is being held from the 19th to the 21st of May. Modjaji is proud to have some its authors among the ranks who will soon file into town to fill it with vibrant ambience and all the bookish conversation one could dream of.

Tickets are priced at R70 per event, and are on sale via Webtickets. A limited number of student tickets are available for R20 per event – verification will be required.

Don’t miss our authors discussing their work at these not-to-be-missed panel discussions:

Philippa Mamutebi Kabali-KagwaFlame and SongPhilippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa
FRIDAY 14h30-15h30
[25] Writing their continent (Old School Hall): Darrel Bristow-Bovey invites Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (Flame and Song) and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Season of Crimson Blossoms) to share how they reveal their love and knowledge of Africa through fact and fiction.
SATURDAY 10h00-11h00
[45] The transformative power of reading (Council Chamber): Jacques Rousseau discusses the intellectual, social and personal impact of reading, with Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (The Printmaker) and Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (Flame and Song).
SUNDAY 11h30 – 12h30
[95] Writing my family: (Council Chamber): Negotiating the path between family sensitivities and the author’s right to write the story as they choose is a skill that Daniel Browde, Neil Sonnekus and Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa have all developed. They tell Hagen Engler how they did it.

Jolyn PhillipsTjieng Tjang Tjerries and other storiesJolyn Phillips

FRIDAY 13h00-14h00
[23] I write short stories because… (Elephant & Barrel): Are they easier than long fiction, more lucrative than nonfiction, more popular than Harry Potter? Jolyn Philips (Tjieng Tjang Tjerrie) asks fellow writers Harry Kalmer (A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg), Ken Barris (The Life of Worm and Other Misconceptions) and Marita van der Vyver (You Lost Me) what it is about this form that appeals to them as they discuss the challenges of writing in the short form.
SUNDAY 10h00 – 12h00
[90] Workshop: Hide & Seek Poetry (The Hub) Sometimes the writing comes easily, but what do you do when the spring dries up or you have more sand than compost in your head? Come and learn to hunt and gather words at a two-hour poetry workshop with poets Jolyn Phillips and Karin Schimke. Tickets R120 through Webtickets.
SUNDAY 13h00 – 14h00
[104] The polylinguists (The Hub) Tom Dreyer asks Jennifer Friedman (English/Afrikaans) and Jolyn Phillips (English/Afrikaans/French) whether the ability to speak and write in different languages is a help or a hinderance?
Dawn GarischAccidentDawn Garisch
SATURDAY 13h00-14h00
[63] Dark things brought to light (Elephant & Barrel): Fred Strydom (Inside Out Man), Dawn Garisch (Accident) and Dale Halvorsen (Survivors’ Club with Lauren Beukes) discuss the darker side of human nature as reflected in their writing, and why readers feel the need to be disturbed.
Ishara MaharajNamaste LifeIshara Maharaj
FRIDAY 13h00-14h00
[22] The power to move us (Hospice Hall): Ishara Maharaj (Namaste Life) and Dennis Cruywagen (The Spiritual Mandela) discuss the joys and challenges of writing of spiritual matters in a contemporary world.
Colleen HiggsLooking for TroubleLava Lamp PoemsHalfborn WomenColleen Higgs
SUNDAY 13h00 – 14h00
[102] What publishers want (Council Chamber): In preparation for next year’s projected Porcupine’s Den event (think ‘Dragon’s Den’ for writers), would-be authors get to pick the brains of publishers Ester Levinrad (Jonathan Ball), Phehello Mofokeng (Geko Books) and Thabiso Mahlape (BlackBird Books), led by Colleen Higgs (Modjaji Books). Other publishers are welcome to attend and weigh in on the discussion.
Karin SchimkeBare and BreakingKarin Schimke
SUNDAY 10h00 – 12h00
[90] Workshop: Hide & Seek Poetry (The Hub) Sometimes the writing comes easily, but what do you do when the spring dries up or you have more sand than compost in your head? Come and learn to hunt and gather words at a two-hour poetry workshop with poets Jolyn Phillips and Karin Schimke. Tickets R120 through Webtickets.
Helen MoffettStrange FruitStrayHelen Moffett
SATURDAY 14h30-15h30
[70] What is feminism, and who ‘owns’ it? (Ebony Gallery): Helen Moffett (Prunings) asks the questions of poet and singer Blaq Pearl and Thabiso Mahlape (BlackBird Books).
SUNDAY 10h00-11h00
[87] A few good editors (Council Chamber): Alison Lowry and fellow editors Helen Moffett, Phehello Mofokeng and Thabiso Mahlape discuss the consistent criticism around the literary world of ‘poor editing’ and the state of the industry in South Africa.
Michelle HattinghI'm the Girl Who Was RapedMichelle Hattingh
SATURDAY 16h00-17h00
[73] From victim to survivor (Old School Hall): Michelle Hattingh (I’m the Girl Who Was Raped) uncovers stories of courage, faith and perseverance in the face of opposition and adversity as told by Grizelda Grootboom (Exit), Lindiwe Hani (Being Chris Hani’s Daughter) and Shamim Meer (Memories of Love and Struggle).
Shirmoney RhodeNomme 20 Delphi StraatShirmoney Rhode
SUNDAY 11h30 – 12h30
[93] Playing with words (Hospice Hall): On knowing the rules of writing, and how to break them: Sue de Groot tests the boundaries of poets Blaq Pearl and Shirmoney Rhode (Nommer 20 Delphi Straat), and novelist Claire Robertson (The Magistrate of Gower).

Book details

Purchase books directly from the publisher here

Lees ’n uittreksel van Lloyd Zandberg se spitsvondige debuut kortverhaalbundel Per Ongeluk

Lloyd Zandberg is ‘n opwindende nuwe stem in Suid-Afrikaanse satire.

Kyk één keer deur sy oë na die lewe, en niks sal ooit weer dieselfde wees nie.

Hierdie versameling kortverhale bied ‘n histeriese kykie op alledaagse situasies: ‘n tango-les in die platteland; die tannie “so eenvoudig soos ‘n ses-stuk legkaart”; ‘n besoek aan ‘n tandarts en sy assistent met wie hy meer as net ‘n spreekkamer deel.

Zandberg se debuut is ‘n boek vol deernis en humor, met vriendelike gebruiksaanwysings vir mense wat nie so goed lees nie.

Uittreksel uit “Inkopies”, ’n kortverhaal wat verskyn in Lloyd Zandberg se debuutbundel, Per ongeluk (Tafelberg, 2017).

Ek het al in my lewe geskenke gekry wat my laat bloos het vir maande aaneen, sielkundige toe gestuur het of net lelik laat laster het. Een jaar het ek by ’n vriend van my ’n springtou en ’n aero- bics manual gekry. Ek weet presies wat hy wou sê, maar dit was onnodig, hoewel my eating disorder geen staatsgeheim was nie.

Ouma, aan die ander kant, was briljant met die koop van geskenke. Dit was asof sy jou met R50 kom opsom. Elkeen in die familie het altyd iets kleins gekry, maar dit was elke keer in die kol. Tot die honde, katte, budgies, rotte, hamsters en vissie kry geskenke. Sy het nooit gemors gekoop nie.

Deur die jaar het sy al idees bymekaar begin gooi, en vroeg in November het sy oorgegaan tot aksie. Die geskenkkoopses- sies was gewoonlik ’n hele dag se storie.

So loop ek en Ouma die winkelrakke deur terwyl Bles Bridges ons in die agtergrond vermaak met sy musiek. Ek sê nou maar musiek, want dit speel oor ’n speaker, maar ek weet nie of dit as musiek geklassifiseer kan word nie. Bles moes liewer kyk na ’n modeling career of professioneel dans, want sy nommers maak my ongemaklik. Maar ek en Ouma gee Bles die benefit of the doubt en gaan aan met ons soeke na elkeen se geskenke.

Op daardie stadium het ons al vier-en-sestig Krismis-crack- ers teen ’n onverbeterbare prys gekoop. Daar is net agtien van ons, maar Krismis-crackers hou mos.
’n Paar minute later is ons in die afdeling vir persoonlike higiëne en ons staan voor die rak met die shampoo en con- ditioners. My ouma trek ’n bottel bubblebath vir my ma van die rak af en lees die label agterop. Dit is toe dat ’n vrou met liggaamsdele waarvan sy nie weet nie naderstap en my op die skouer tik.

“Waar kry jy die crackers?” vra sy.

Ek skrik, want skielik sien ek ’n deel van haar waarvan sy blykbaar onbewus is. Party mense noem dit ’n suikerpens. Die vrou wys met so ’n vienna-vinger na my ouma, wat met die mid- night blue bubblebath staan.

“Is dit jou ma?” vra sy.

“Nee,” sê ek, “dit is my ouma. En sy is kwaai.”

Ouma het aanbeweeg, sy is nie hier vir geselsies maak nie. “Sjoe,” sê die vrou, “sy is so jonk. Mevrou, jy is pragtig.” “Dankie en geseënde Kersfees vir jou,” sê Ouma, haar aan-
dag nou afgetrek deur ’n nuwe ekseemroom wat net vir my ouer broer se Kerskous bedoel kan wees.

Ek vra toe vir haar of sy bewus is van daai stuk wat so hang.

“Nee,” sê sy, “waarvan praat jy?”

“Daar hang iets onder jou bloes waarvan jy nie weet nie.” “O, my pensie,” sê sy en vat aan haar maag waar dit op die trollie rus.

“Dit is tannie se tupperware, my maag stoor alles daar wat te veel is,” lag sy asof sy in ’n advertensie vir haar maag speel. “As die oorlog kom, het ek genoeg rantsoen, my pens weet mos nie wat môre gebeur nie.”

My ouma loop ’n ent verder en ek bly staan en verkyk my aan die tannie wat sukkel om ’n koekie seep van die boonste rak af te haal. Dit is toe dat haar man om die draai kom met ’n slaapsak in sy regterhand en onder sy linkerarm knyp hy ’n kleinerige gasbottel vas, soos een wat wil steel. Ek kan sien hy het groot planne wat haar nie betrek nie. Sy weet dit net nog nie.

Ouma waai vir my dat ek moet kom. Sy wil weet of my suster se voete sal pas in die voetbadjie wat sy vashou. Ouma se trollie is al vol familie. Ek sien elkeen se gesig. Bles Bridges se “Reik na die sterre” begin speel.

Maar heeltyd hou ek vir Tupperware en Cadac dop. “My maggies, ons troulied!” sê Tupperware vir Cadac. “I’ll be damned,” sê ek.

“Moenie so staar nie,” sê Ouma.

Ek kan my oë nie glo nie. Die twee staan en langarm soos mense by ’n wildsfees – heel van ritme af en asof hulle gedwing word. Ek staan nader aan Ouma, want ek is bang. Nes Bles die chorus vir ’n tweede keer begin sing, skree iemand kliphard daar aan die ander kant van die winkel.

Ek dog nog daar is ’n special op brandewyn of Coke of iets en begin al Ouma se waentjie omdraai. Maar toe sien ek die man met die pistool. Hy sê op ’n dringende toon dat ons almal op die vloer moet lê. Dit lyk asof hy dit bedoel. Hy het daai uitdrukking op sy gesig van iemand wat nou ’n toilet nodig het.

’n Mens glo mos maar eerder so ’n persoon.

Ek gryp Ouma se hand en vra haar of hulle ernstig is. Sy kyk my net aan en ons albei besef dis nie speletjies nie. Ek en sy val soos slap kak op die vloer, maar Tupperware en die man gaan aan asof hulle van niks weet nie. Hulle dans so dat dit amper vir my mooi is.

ek reik na die sterre niks is ooit vir my te ver nie liefde
in my lewe laat my ook op plekke swewe iets om na te
strewe want dit is my hele lewe
ek wil aan jou vertel, maar ek dink tog jy weet dit wel jy is
my lewe

“Julle moet loop lê!” sis ek.

“Net op ons anniversary,” sê Tupperware.

“Jammer om te hoor, maar hulle gaan ons skiet,” sê ek.

“Ek was in die army,” sê Cadac. “Julle moet kalm bly, hierdie amateurs het nie ’n kans nie.”

“Jy was ’n week daar,” sê Tupperware. “Jy is ’n onderwyser, wat weet jy?”

“Ons gaan vrek,” sê ek.

Oral om ons lê almal tjoepstil soos kinders by ’n evangeliese kerkkamp terwyl party lyk asof hulle dalk in tale mag begin praat. Ouma lê langs my, maar sy is min gepla. Sy kon net so- wel op Hentiesbaai se strand lê.

“Ek sal op my rug moet lê,” sê ek, “my maag druk my ribbes dat ek nie asem kry nie.”

“Doen wat jy wil,” sê Ouma, “dit mag dalk jou laaste kans wees.”

“Moenie so sê nie, dit laat my nog meer sukkel vir asem,” sê ek. Toe ek omdraai om op my rug te lê, kyk ek op en sien die verskriklike hoë rakke wat hoog bo ons uittroon, asof ek in die middel van die pad in 5th Avenue in New York lê. Wolkekrab- bers vol shampoo en body wash.

“As hulle hier begin skiet, is dit ’n moerse skuimbad,” sê ek. Ek praat gewoonlik kak as ek nervous is.

Ons lê vir ’n verdere sewe minute. Intussen het Bles oorge- skakel na “Ruiter van die windjie” en ek sien hoe Tupperware se voet klop-klop saam met die chorus:

ruiter van die windjie wil ek bly vryer
as die voëltjies rondom my van verre
lande vertel ek
goue strande en die see, oho hoo

Die man met die pistool sien ek nie weer nie, maar ek pak intussen die R37,50 uit my beursie langs my selfoon as hy dalk sou belangstel. Van waar ek lê, kan ek onder die rak deur kyk na waar ’n tannie in ’n pastelkleurige kaftan lê en bid.

Skielik gaan daar ’n alarm af. Ek skrik my spoeg weg. Ek het geweet dit is die einde.

“Is ons dood?” vra ek vir Ouma.

“Nee, man,” sê sy, “dis Bles se jodelliedjie, ken jy dit nie?”