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"The blood of the woman on the stoep of my father's shop was redder than stoep polish." Read an extract from Harry Kalmer's A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, shortlisted for the 2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Published in the Sunday Times

“My name is Alice and I am as old as the mountains.”

Richard Ho’s grandmother spoke into Cherie Sadie’s camera.

“As old as the mine dumps. As old as Mandela. We were born in the same year. So I am not exactly sure what I imagine and what I remember. Is there a difference? Not much, if you ask me.

“Sometimes when I am in bed, I think I hear the whistle of a steam locomotive. But there haven’t been steam trains in Johannesburg for years. So the train I hear is probably only my memory. Or my imagination.

“At night in Chinatown you could hear the trains shunting at the municipal market and in the Braamfontein Yard. Steam trains. Toot-toot. Clickety-clack. But my first memory is of another place.

“My father owned a shop next to a mine. It was during a strike. There was a Boer woman. Afterwards we heard that her husband was a scab. She was on the stoep of my father’s cash store when a piece of coal hit her in the eye. Nobody knew who threw it. I’m telling you, she screamed. She dropped to her knees and cried like a baby. I remember it like it was yesterday. She was wearing a white apron and one of those kappies that the poor aunties wore in those days. Blood spurted from her eye like a fountain.

“I seldom speak Afrikaans these days. But the pretty words come back all the time. Words like ‘fontein’ and ‘lokomotief’. Not words you hear a lot any more, if you hear what I’m saying.

“Anyway, I’m losing track of my thoughts. The blood of the woman on the stoep of my father’s shop was redder than stoep polish. My parents tried to stop the bleeding with a towel. Older Brother who died last year at ninety-five … or was it the year before last? Anyway, Dad sent Older Brother to call the soldiers. They came with a tank or lorry or something like that and took the poor white woman away. I don’t know who the woman was and I never saw her again. But I clearly remember her eye spouting blood like a fountain. That’s the first thing I remember.”

Book details

2018 Media24 Books prize winners announced

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw and Cape Town writer and poet Ken Barris were among the recipients of the 2018 Media24 Books prizes awarded in Cape Town on Thursday, 14 June 2018.

The Media24 Books prizes are awarded annually for books published by the Media24 Books division and Jonathan Ball Publishers, also part of Media24, in the preceding year. This year, prizes to a combined value of more than R200 000 were awarded in six categories.

Jacques Pauw won the Recht Malan prize for nonfiction for The President’s Keepers, published by NB Publishers under the Tafelberg imprint. According to the judges, The President’s Keepers will be remembered, along with #GuptaLeaks, for the change it brought about in South African society and the ANC. “The power of The President’s Keepers lies partly in the explosive revelations it makes, but mostly in that for the first time a broad-based narrative connected the dots between the private and public interests propping up Zuma at all costs. South Africans live in a better country today than a mere eight months ago, partly thanks to Pauw.”

The other titles on the nonfiction shortlist were How to Steal a City by Crispian Olver and Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi.

The Herman Charles Bosman prize for English fiction went to Ken Barris for The Life of Worm and Other Misconceptions, a short story collection published by Kwela. The judges called it an extraordinary collection that combines the mundane with the surreal in illuminating but often deeply unsettling ways. It is a collection that keeps the reader “constantly intrigued, amused, repelled and acutely aware of South African realities”.

Also on the fiction shortlist were I am Pandarus by Michiel Heyns and Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton.

Novelist Eben Venter won the WA Hofmeyr prize for Afrikaans fiction for the fifth time with Groen soos die hemel daarbo, published by Tafelberg. The novel, which explores modern sexuality, intimacy and identity, was lauded by the judges for its finely honed style of writing. The other books on the shortlist were Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng by Etienne van Heerden and As in die mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss.

Marlene van Niekerk received the Elisabeth Eybers prize for Afrikaans and English poetry for In die stille agterkamer, ekphrastic verses about the paintings of Dutch painter Jan Mankes (1889–1920). The collection, published by Human & Rousseau, was described by the judges as “a gripping yet meditative reading experience”. Also shortlisted were Nou, hier by Corné Coetzee, Radbraak by Jolyn Phillips and Alles het niet kom wôd by Nathan Trantraal.

The MER prize for youth novels was awarded to Carin Krahtz for Blou is nie ’n kleur nie (Tafelberg), while the MER prize for illustrated children’s books went to writer Rosamund Haden and illustrator Tony Pinchuck for The All Africa Wildlife Express.

The judges were: For the Recht Malan prize: Jean Meiring, Elsa van Huyssteen and Pauli van Wyk; for the Herman Charles Bosman prize: Johan Jacobs, Molly Brown and Ann Donald; for the WA Hofmeyr prize: Francois Smith, Sonja Loots and Kerneels Breytenbach; for the Elisabeth Eybers prize: Henning Pieterse, Bibi Slippers and Charl-Pierre Naudé; for the MER prize for youth novels: Nanette van Rooyen, Henriëtte Linde-Loubser and Betsie van der Westhuizen; and for the MER prize for illustrated children’s books: Piet Grobler, Marjorie van Heerden and Magdel Vorster.

The President's Keepers

Book details

 
How To Steal A City

 
 
 

Khwezi

 
 
 

The Life of Worm

 
 
 

I am Pandarus

 
 
 

Being Kari

 
 
 

Groen soos die hemel daarbo

 
 
 

Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng

 
 
 

As in die Mond

 
 
 

In die stille agterkamer

 
 
 

Nou, hier

 
 
 

Radbraak

 
 
 

Alles het niet kom wôd

 
 
 

Blou is nie 'n kleur nie

 
 
 

All Africa Wildlife Express

"It started off the way my projects often do; with a title." Harry Kalmer writes about the origins of his novel, A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, shortlisted for the 2018 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Published in the Sunday Times

Harry Kalmer is an award-winning playwright and novelist who has authored six works of fiction and 23 plays. His novel En die lekkerste deel van dood wees was the runner-up in the 2007 Sanlam/Insig Groot Roman competition. Briewe aan ‘n rooi dak, based on the letters of Magdalena Otto, received the Anglo-Gold Aardklop award for best new drama in 2001, and was adapted for TV and broadcast. In 2014, his drama The Bram Fischer Waltz won the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts. He lives in Johannesburg.

It started off the way my projects often do; with a title. The title arrived on a Monday morning in 2007 outside a hardware store. At the same moment an image of a fountain with Arabic titles appeared.

The fountain I recalled from a walk in Tangiers years before. However, this image placed the fountain in a courtyard in Belgravia, the suburb that, in the 1890s was Jozi’s first walled community.

A few weeks later in Springs I waited for someone next to a pool of stagnant mine water with reeds and water fowl. I wrote what I thought was an opening line in a notebook. The line ended up on page 41 of A Thousand Tales. The fountain didn’t make it onto the page but the book was set in Belgravia and the title made it to publication.

For a long time it remained only a title. The xenophobic attacks of May 2008 and the fact that the violence spilt over into the suburb where my unwritten book was set, was a trigger. I was horrified by the proximity of the violence to my cosy middle-class existence, the brutality of the attacks and what it said about our society.

The violence became the backdrop for the novel.

A title with the words A Thousand doesn’t lend itself to a short format. I realised I needed help and enrolled in a masters in creative writing at the University of Stellenbosch. By the end of that year, thanks to my supervisors, Willem Anker and Marlene van Niekerk, I had a 300-page first draft.

I colour coded the storylines, arranged them in interesting patterns on my wall and used it as a structure for the next draft. A year and several drafts later I added the first 40 pages.

During that time I was invited to read at Africa Short Story Day – I was the only Afrikaans reader – and read a scene from my work in progress. The scene was set in the Rockey Street jazz club Rumours during the 1980s. Half the audience didn’t understand what I read. I realised that the book should also be published in English.

By 2012 I had enough of a manuscript to end up on the shortlist for the Groot Afrikaanse Romanwedstryd.

‘n Duisend Stories oor Johannesburg was finally published in 2014 and was eventually shortlisted for eight Afrikaans literary awards. I translated the book myself and Melt Myburgh and Fourie Botha at Penguin Random House said they wanted to publish it. They appointed Michael Titlestadt as editor.

I translated the book so that more people, my English-speaking family members and friends could read it. And perhaps find a few new readers.

Book details

The shortlist for the Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction has been announced!

Via Short Story Day Africa

When planning the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize, ID, the abbreviation for “identity” and the psychoanalytic construct of the “Id” – that deep structure that houses our unconscious desires – we called for “innovative short fiction that explores identity, especially (but not limited to) the themes of gender identity and sexuality.”

We were impressed as never before by the multiple ways in which writers from all over the continent responded, the depth, variety and innovation of their interpretations. From Benin to Ethiopia, from Morocco to South Africa, the stories on the long list reveal uncomfortable and fascinating truths about who we are.

Once editing was completed, the twenty-one stories were sent to the judges. The decision to edit the stories and to engage with the authors before judging has proven to be invaluable in enabling young writers and raw talent to compete on an equal footing with their more established and experienced peers. The final stories and indeed the shortlisted stories are more evenly balanced between those already making their mark in terms of publication and awards, and extremely talented writers who are new to the adventure of publishing or only just venturing into the terrain of short fiction.

This year, for the first time, we opted for a broad spread of volunteer judges, ably assisted by The Johannesburg Review of Books, rendering the evaluation process flatter, more consultative and democratic. The combination of the new scoring system and the extremely high standard of the stories meant that for the first time, we’ve produced a short list of nine stories, instead of the usual six.

The shortlist is as follows (in alphabetical order):

1. The Piano Player by Agazit Abate (Ethiopia)
2. Ibinabo by Michael Agugom (Nigeria)
3. The Geography of Sunflowers by Michelle Angwenyi (Kenya)
4. Limbo by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria)
5. Sew My Mouth by Cherrie Kandie (Kenya)
6. South of Samora by Farai Mudzingwa (Zimbabwe)
7. All Our Lives by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor (Nigeria)
8. The House on the Corner by Lester Walbrugh (South Africa)
9. God Skin by Michael Yee (South Africa)

Seen here are a variety of explorations of queer sexuality – an extremely important and necessary creative intervention, given the grim march of homophobia, including in legislative forms, across the African continent. Michael Agugom charts the challenges of negotiating biracial and sexually complex identities in a small and watchful Nigerian island community in “Ibinabo”; and Cherrie Kandie provides a powerful and painful account of the silencing (literally) of lesbian love in urban Nairobi in “Sew My Mouth”. In “The House on the Corner”, Lester Walbrugh provides a moving interpretation of the perhaps ubiquitous “gay life in Cape Town” narrative; Innocent Chizaram Ilo provides a delightfully unusual and fantastical account of heartbreak as experienced by a lesbian scarecrow in “Limbo”.

Michelle Angwenyi’s lyrical and hallucinatory “The Geography of Sunflowers” presents heteronormative love and loss as experiences that both heighten and blur identity.

Identity is also formed through friendships and family bonds, and in Farai Mudzingwa’s delicate and moving “South of Samora”, a young man whose social standing is dependent on where he lives, forms a friendship with an ailing child that forces him to define himself; while Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor’s “All Our Lives” is a wry, clear-eyed, humorous and characteristically compassionate account of the identity (multiple identities, in fact) of a much-maligned community – young and disaffected men who drift into Nigerian cities in pursuit of a “better life”.

“The Piano Player” by Agazit Abate is a brilliant inversion of the “African abroad” narrative as it presents snapshots of life in Addis Abada through the eyes and ears of a pianist in a luxury hotel bar, and “God Skin” by Michael Yee weaves together alienation, forbidden love and intimate violence against a subtle backdrop of the scars of Liberia’s civil war.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors.

The winners will be announced on 21 June 2018, the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. The grand prize winner is set to win $800. A full list of project sponsors is available on our sponsors page.

The resulting anthology from the longlisted prize entries, ID: New Short Fiction From Africa, is edited by Nebila Abdulmelik, Otieno Owino and Helen Moffett as part of the SSDA/Worldreader Editing Mentorship. ID is due for release on 21 June 2018, the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere, in partnership with New Internationalist.

All of SSDA’s previous anthologies have received critical acclaim, with two stories from Feast, Famine & Potluck shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing – with one, “My Father’s Head” by Okwiri Oduor, going on to win the prize. Terra Incognita and Water likewise received wide critical praise, including reviews from the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Sunday Times and the Financial Mail. Stacy Hardy’s story “Involution”, published in Migrations is shortlisted for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Ons Klyntji is calling for submissions!

Via Ons Klyntji

Deadline: 31 May 2018, midnight CAT

Ons Klyntji, a magazine published and launched every year at the Oppikoppi music festival is looking for submissions “written or visual”.

There is no set theme, but we do appreciate material that concerns the here and now: love & politics, drought & roll, the road & the verge, music & the movement, spirits & genes, the city & the land, origins & myth, cursor & click, if you liked this you might also like & suggested for you. (This means: you write what you left swipe.) Writings about South Africa, Africa, South Africans and Africans will be appreciated.

Send in:

  • Your three best poems
  • Short stories no longer than 2500 words
  • Photographs, graphics, sketches, images, doodles etc that work in black and white, and smallish (Ons Klyntji is printed the size of your back pocket)
  • Book and CD reviews of no longer than 150 words a shot (focus on South African and African material, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or non-poetry)
  • Interviews with a creative of your choice (max 2000 words)
  • A short thesis on why South Africans consider the orange traffic light to be an invitation to speed the hell up (max 100 words)

 
You can submit in any language to either info@toastcoetzer.com or sendusyourpoems@gmail.com

Shortlists for 2018 Media24 Books Awards announced

Media24 Books is proud to announce the shortlists for the 2018 Media24 Books Literary Awards.

This year, prizes to the value of R210 000 in total will be awarded in six categories.

These annual awards serve to recognise the best work published during the previous year by Media24 book publishers including NB Publishers (through imprints such as Human & Rousseau, Tafelberg, Kwela and Queillerie) as well as Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Independent judging panels compiled the shortlists from 80 submissions in total. The shortlists consist of three titles each, apart from the Elizabeth Eybers Poetry Prize where an exceptionally strong field saw four titles included on the shortlist.

The shortlists, in alphabetical order according to author, are:

Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction (novels, short stories, drama)

The Life of Worm and Other Misconceptions by Ken Barris (Kwela)
I am Pandarus by Michiel Heyns (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton (Kwela)

Recht Malan Prize for Nonfiction

How to Steal a City by Crispian Olver (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw (Tafelberg)
Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

WA Hofmeyr Prize for Afrikaans Fiction (novels, short stories, drama)

As in die mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss (Queillerie)
Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng by Etienne van Heerden (Tafelberg)
Groen soos die hemel daarbo by Eben Venter (Tafelberg)

Elisabeth Eybers Prize for Poetry

Nou, hier by Corné Coetzee (Human & Rousseau)
Radbraak by Jolyn Phillips (Human & Rousseau)
Alles het niet kom wôd by Nathan Trantraal (Kwela)
In die stille agterkamer by Marlene van Niekerk (Human & Rousseau)

MER Prize for Youth Novels

Hap by Lesley Beake (Tafelberg)
Blou is nie ’n kleur nie by Carin Krahtz (Tafelberg)
Soen by Jan Vermeulen (Tafelberg)

MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books

The All Africa Wildlife Express by Rosamund Haden and Tony Pinchuck (illustrator)
Karel Kraai se kitaar by Louise Smit and Luan Serfontein (illustrator)
Liewe Heksie en die sterretjieskombuis – based on the original story by Verna Vels and illustrated by Vian Oelofsen.

The winner in each category receives R35 000. The MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books is shared by the author and illustrator of the winning title.

The awards function will be held in Cape Town on Thursday 14 June 2018.

The Life of Worm

Book details

 
 

I am Pandarus

 
 
 

Being Kari

 
 
 

How To Steal A City

 
 
 

The President's Keepers

 
 
 

Khwezi

 
 
 

As in die Mond

 
 
 

Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng

 
 
 

Groen soos die hemel daarbo

 
 
 

Nou, hier

 
 
 

Radbraak

 
 
 

Alles het niet kom wôd

 
 
 

In die stille agterkamer

 
 
 

Hap

 
 
 

Blou is nie 'n kleur nie

 
 
 

Soen

 
 
 

All Africa Wildlife Express

 
 
 

Karel Kraai se kitaar

 
 
 

Liewe Heksie en die Sterretjieskombuis