Nuwe Stories 3, saamgestel deur Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh, verskyn eersdaags by Human & Rousseau:
Sewentien kortverhale deur die skrywers op die kortlys van Human & Rousseau se Nuwe Stories-kortverhaalwedstryd vir 2014. Die stories dek ’n wye verskeidenheid onderwerpe, insluitend verhoudings, kindermishandeling, armoede, trauma, dwelms, geloof en die ware aard van goed en kwaad.
Die skrywers op die kortlys is Frederick J Botha, Luka Dreyer, Susan Gaigher, Carla Kargaard, Corné Koegelenberg, Martin Laubscher, Ilisna Nel, Carien Smith, Tanya van Buuren, Heloïse van der Walt, Christina van Deventer en Elani Venter.
Oor die samesteller
Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh is voormalige uitgewersredakteur en tans vryskut taalpraktisyn en joernalis. Sy het jare se ervaring as redakteur, samesteller en redigeerder van fiksie. Sy woon op Joostenbergvlakte, halfpad tussen Kaapstad en Stellenbosch.
Diepsee. ’n Keur uit die verhale van E Kotze (Tafelberg Uitgewers) is ’n boek wat méér as mooi is. Die samesteller, Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh, gesoute boekmens en Namakwalander, bewys ons ’n guns deur hierdie onderskatte skrywer se werk nogmaals onder ons aandag te bring en dit weer eens lewe te gee. Ek sê óns, bedoelende Afrikaanse lesers, dalk ’n bedreigde spesie – soms hoor ek die gehyg van die wolf by die tuinhekkie – en ironies handel hierdie verhale oor bedreigde taalskatte, wat soos die soutrapers van die Sandveld en ander “silt”-van-die-aarde-mense van daardie omgewing, reeds so uitgedun is dat hulle net skimme in die dynserigheid oor die see, duine en panne sou wees, was dit nie vir sulke optekenings nie.
The English translation of SJ Naudé’s award-winning debut, Alfabet van die voëls, to be published by Umuzi as The Alphabet of Birds:
“Cool and intelligent, unsettling and deeply felt, Naudé’s voice is something new in South African writing.” – Damon Galgut, author of Arctic Summer
From an ancient castle in Bavaria and a pre-war villa in Milan, to a winter landscape in Lesotho and the suburban streets of Pretoria, the stories in The Alphabet of Birds take an acute look at South Africans at home and abroad.
In one story, a strange, cheerful Japanese man visits a young South African as he takes care of his dying mother; in another, a woman battles corrupt bureaucracy in the Eastern Cape. A man trails his lover through the underground dance clubs of Berlin, while in London a young banker moves through layers of decadence as a soul would through purgatory.
Pulsating with passion, loss, and melancholia, SJ Naudé’s collection The Alphabet of Birds is filled with music, art, architecture, myth, the search for origins and the shifting relationships between people.
About the author
SJ Naudé studied law at the University of Pretoria as well as at Cambridge and Columbia. He also holds an MA in creative writing. The Alphabet of Birds in Afrikaans was awarded the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize and the Jan Rabie Rapport Prize. In 2013 he was awarded the Jan Rabie and Marjorie Wallace Writing Scholarship. Having worked in New York and London for many years, he currently lives in Cape Town.
Wessel Pretorius het ’n kortverhaal deur Frederick J Botha op RSG se radioprogram Kortom voorgelees.
Die verhaal verskyn in Nuwe stories 2, saamgestel deur Leti Kleyn en Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh. Die bundel bevat kortverhale van nuwe Afrikaanse skrywers, onder andere Marteni Burger, Solette Stander en Talita van Graan.
Luister na die potgooi van Pretorius se voorlesing van “Petrus”:
Joanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Gillian Rennie. Her story “Retrieval” was selected for inclusion in the anthology.
Gillian Rennie is now a teacher of writing and editing at Rhodes University, after decades in journalism. She believes she learns more than she teaches. As a teacher, she seeks light switches. As a writer, she turns observations into ink. As a reader, she favours the personal essay and longs for erotica that features mastectomy survivors. She holds a Mondi Magazine Award for her Fairlady profile of MaMbeki and was twice selected for the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology and on SLiPnet.
Your story “Retrieval” includes an imaginary friend. Did you consciously set out to do this?
Not at the beginning, no. What I set out to do was see if I could write a 3 000-word story as the competition rules required. But next time I looked there were two characters having two pretty different lives. This was potentially disconcerting but I persuaded myself to trust that these two women knew what was what and all I needed to do was continue turning up at the keyboard until they chose to enlighten me – which I did, until they did. Early one morning they told me one of them was imaginary. Which is a Russian doll of hilarity, really, because both of them are imaginary, really, aren’t they? Only don’t tell them that, they both think they’re real. The truth can be so destabilising, whoever you are.
It’s almost as if you, the writer, were having a conversation with yourself… is there any truth to this? As you stepped from the ordinary into the fantastical?
Of course – I have conversations with myself continuously! I have no idea what other wavelength to tune into for a decent soundtrack to this documentary movie I’ve been cast in.
Tell us more about your love of cats and poetry and how the two came together in the story.
At about the same time as the Short.Sharp.Stories call for entries was announced, a writing colleague suggested I enter another competition. That one called for African poetry collections of 50 pages or more. So I started trawling my poetry folder. Took out all the poems about cats (the internet having devalued the intellectual potential of cats as poetic subjects). Took out most of the poems about sex (not wanting the rest of the continent to get the wrong idea about us down here). That left about six pages – and a clear view of my poetic concerns. Obviously there was only one thing I could do: create a new folder and write a short story to put in it.
Will readers find your story more literary than commercial?
Wow, I’d be thrilled if they did.
That sounds smug – what’s wrong with commercial success?
Nothing. But writing well means different things to different writers. I like the idea of being a tiny bit literary. And I like the idea that some readers might regard some of my work as literary.
Ooh, defensive, are we?
For sure! It’s tough enough owning up to writing erotica. It shouldn’t be tough owning up to being literary as well.
OK then, what if you had to choose between commerce and literature?
I can’t. I write what I write but what happens beyond readers’ eyes if beyond me.
There you go again, having conversations with yourself.
As a journalist writing fiction, please comment on the idea that whether one works on fiction or non-fiction it’s all about story.
Ooh, this has been such a hard one to accept. I was schooled in outdated modes of reportage that were impossible to shake off so for decades. I was wedded to veracity, and to the journalistic striving for impartiality. If I recognised the truth of fiction, I left it there to play with itself while I got on with the facts of life. It couldn’t last, of course – something had to give and it wasn’t going to be the truth so it had to be me. Eventually I got it: we are all story. We are only story. That’s the truth.
What do you think of writing competitions?
They offer multiple challenges: to write anyway (if the topic’s unappetising), to keep writing (if you win), and to write again (if you don’t).
What’s next for you?
I’m always working on the current writing prompt from my weekly writing group and I’m always working on helping journalism students tell stories better. I’m also trying to dance more and care less.
…A perfect ending for the interview, thanks, Gillian.
Binyavanga Wainaina took to Twitter this weekend, and this morning, to bash the Caine Prize, again, saying African writers should be asking more questions about the sponsorship of awards.
“Do you all remember that the literary magazines like Transition that pubished Ngugi, bessie head, Soyinka were sponsored by CIA?” he tweeted (sic).
The Kenyan author hit the headlines in early September, when he criticised the Caine Prize in an interview with This Is Africa, saying: “I am going to take this first to another road because I think all you Nigerian literati are way too addicted to the Caine Prize. I give the Caine Prize its due credit, but it just isn’t our institution.”
It was not the first time the “African Booker” has come under fire from writers who consider it too big for its boots. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who was shortlisted for the Caine Prize the year Wainaina won it, 2002, caused an uproar in July last year, when she told Slate that she considers it “over-privileged”:
[...] what’s all this over-privileging of the Caine Prize, anyway? I don’t want to talk about the Caine Prize, really. I suppose it’s a good thing, but for me it’s not the arbiter of the best fiction in Africa. It’s never been. I know that Chinelo is on the short list, too. But I haven’t even read the stories—I’m just not very interested. I don’t go the Caine Prize to look for the best in African fiction.
AB: Where do you go?
CA: I go to my mailbox, where my workshop people send me their stories. I could give you a list of ten—mostly in Nigeria—writers who I think are very good. They’re not on the Caine Prize short list.
Wainaina revisited the topic on Friday in grand style, sending a flurry of tweets saying that the Caine Prize award money should not prevent winners from “asking questions” and calling out fellow writers Elnathan John, who was shortlisted for the prize in 2013, and Mehul Gohil, who took part in the Caine Prize workshop in 2012, as well as Caine Prize administer Lizzy Attree.
“It is a season of mad beautiful ideas, not safe career bum lickings,” Wainaina tweeted. “Our continent is ripe, dangerous and renegotiating everything, do not sell your literature for small scholarships.”
This morning Wainaina said his argument was not with the prize itself, but with the attention it gets from Africa, while local institutions with the same aims are given “no credit” by their literary community: “I have very little to say about the Caine prize. I have lots to say about what we have chosen to make of ourselves in it. It speaks loud.”
John responded to Wainaina’s goading by insinuating he had been “drinking”, and criticised “African professionals”:
Wainaina is no stranger to controversy this year. In the midst of a wave of anti-homosexual legislation across the continent, he decided to come out on his 43rd birthday in January, in a “lost chapter” from his memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place, entitled “I am a homosexual, Mum”. He was subsequently named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
Read Wainaina’s tweets:
Image courtesy of Truth and Fiction