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Adults Only teaser: Q&A with Dudumalingani Mqombothi

4. MqombothiJoanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Dudumalingani Mqombothi. His story “The Streetwalkers” was Highly Commended by the competition judges.

Dudumalingani Mqombothi is a writer, filmmaker and photographer. He was born in the Zikhovane village in the former Transkei. He currently lives in Cape Town, and is working in the film industry as a director and writer. He has been published in the literary journals Chimurenga Chronic and the Prufrock Magazine. He also writes about art, culture, music and film for the Mail and Guardian and Africa is a Country. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, and is working on a non-fiction account of a family drama. He blogs at and is on Twitter @dudumalingani.

Your story “The Streetwalkers” focuses on an interesting parallel – the prostitute streetwalker, and the narrator trying to find his father, also by walking the streets. Do both these characters turn to sex to forget? To escape reality?

No, not initially at least. The narrator turns to the prostitute for sex because he wants sex. It is also a comment on how the city lures the naïve into its evilness. For the narrator, more than escapism, it is about dominance. This is why he is also reluctant to fall in love with her and insists on seeing her as a prostitute.

There is a sense of alienation that runs through the story, a sense of underlying angst. Is it really a social comment as it were, on the fact that sex – which brings people together – can at times also be a very lonely and sometimes empty experience?

For the prostitute, having sex with people for money is her job, one that perhaps is thrust on her because of poverty, it offers no emotional satisfaction at all. At first, when she begins to have sex with the narrator, there is nothing special about it. In fact, to her, he is just another customer. It is only with time that she begins to feel safe in his arms. She finds refuge in being with the narrator and not in the sex itself, though having sex with him, because it involves emotions, is escapism from having emotionless sex with other men. Generally, my story is inspired by how people in the city hide their demons from each other yet somehow in their secretive brokenness they need each other.

It’s clear that setting is important to you as a writer…

Fiction that happens in a vacuum does not interest me. Themed stories often suffer from this; the entire story becomes about the theme, when in fact themes emanate from stories and not the other way round. The setting is also not merely present in the narrative, it influences the characters, both in how they interact and respond to the world, and the people they are and the people they ultimately become.

The meandering of the narrator through Cape Town, and Hout Bay, is thought-provoking. Was it an intention to touch on our history?

Characters that exist independent of their surroundings make no sense to me, regardless whether these surroundings are fictional or not. It happens here that the narrator’s commentary on District Six, City Centre, City Hall, Hout Bay, is real and not fictionalised. It is first the world he exists in, and second a commentary on history. To an extent, as well, the displacement of District Six and the big divide in society of Hout Bay are two things that exist everywhere in the story, in the fact that he is looking for his father and the poverty that has driven the prostitute to find herself working the streets.

Here’s a tough question: Why are there so many reports of sexual abuse in this country? Does it go back to absent fathers? That not enough men set an example to be respectful to women? Can you comment on this?

The problem is not absent fathers. The problem is how boy and girl children are raised, both by fathers and mothers. There is a culture that dictates that boys should be encouraged from an early age to avoid behaviors, interests and personality traits that are considered feminine. In most societies, children are socialized from birth to ‘perform’ either a masculine or feminine role (depending on their sex). Boys are told that they are strong. Girls are told that they are weak. Indirectly, the dominance of boys over girls is encouraged.

Do SA men tend to objectify women? Is there clear reason for this?

Yes, they do and there should not be any doubt about that. The reasons? One, being raised in a macho environment that openly teaches young boys that girls are their objects; and two, when these young men become adults, refusing to involve them in the conversation so they can change their behaviour. Instead, those who want to correct this gather by themselves and preach to the converted.

On a final note, the judges noted “The Streetwalkers” as an unusual story and one that the reader might find unexpected in this anthology…

I read the submission guidelines and thought, naturally, to write something that was subversive or at least trying to be. The thought that I would ever write anything that fits into submission guidelines is terrifying!

And that’s exactly what drew us to your story – the originality and distinctive ‘Voice’. Thanks, Dudumalingani.

Adults Only

Adults Only is available in stores for R190.

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The Short.Sharp.Stories Awards is sponsored by the National Arts Festival.

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Programme Revealed for the 2014 Mail & Guardian Literary Festival (30 – 31 August)

Mail & Guardian Literary Festival

The programme for the fifth annual Mail & Guardian Literary Festival has been revealed.

The event will be dedicated to the memory of Nadine Gordimer, who appeared at the 2012 and 2013 festivals.

The festival will take place from Saturday, 30 August, to Sunday, 31 August, at the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg. Authors at the festival will include Okwiri Oduor, winner of the 2014 Caine Prize for African writing, Glenn Moss, author of The New Radicals: A generational memoir of the 1970s, Dennis Cruywagen, author of Brothers in War and Peace, which focuses on the lives of identical twins Abraham and Constand Viljoen, as well as Ingrid Winterbach, Perfect Hlongwane and Karabo Kgoleng.

Feast, Famine and PotluckThe New RadicalsBrothers in War and PeaceThe Road of ExcessJozi

This year’s Mail & Guardian Literary Festival will kick off with a jazz concert at The Orbit on Friday evening (August 29) and the closing event will be a “meet the authors” cocktail party at David Krut Bookstore on Sunday.

In her speech accepting the Nobel prize for literature in 1991, Gordimer noted: “Being here: in a particular time and place. That is the existential position with particular implications for literature.”

The panels and the themes at the festival will draw on that notion, as well as being inspired by Gordimer’s short fiction, her non-fiction essays and her many campaigning causes for freedom of thought, speech and expression.

The festival’s special guest is Okwiri Oduor, the winner of the 2014 Caine prize for African writing, who will take part in sessions on Gordimer and on the short story.

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Image courtesy of Redballoon

Call for Entries for the 2015 Short Sharp Stories Award: "Incredible Journey"

Bloody SatisfiedAdults Only

The theme for next year’s Short Sharp Stories Award short story competition is “Incredible Journey”, and entries are now open!

The Short Sharp Stories Award, made possible by the National Arts Festival, is an annual South African short story competition for new fiction, with the winners being published in an anthology. The 2013 edition was Bloody Satisfied, featuring a foreword by Deon Meyer and stories by Yewande Omotso, Greg Lazarus, Nechama Brodie, Luke Fiske, Dawn Garisch, Siphiwo Mahala, and others.

This year’s anthology, Adults Only: Stories of love, lust, sex and sexuality, was launched last month. The winning story was Nick Mulgrew’s “Turning”, with Sean Mayne coming in second for “Bring On The Clowns”, and Tiffany Kagure Mugo taking the Best New Voice award for “Coming Into Self-Awareness”.

The competition is open to South African citizens and residents of South Africa, 18 and older. Entries must be unpublished works of fiction, written in English, between 3000 and 5000 words. The winner will receive a cash prize of R20 000, and R5 000 will be awarded for Best New Voice. The closing date for submissions is 30 November, 2014.

Incredible Journey
Our 2015 Topic

Think road trip, or futuristic ride, or a journey of the mind. Or think more laterally. But whether the story moves purely through the sheer force of the imagination or ambles along on dusty, pot-holed South Africa roads, whether the protagonists stay in the country or venture forth into new terrain by train or boat or plane (or foot), the story must retain a South African nuance and sensibility. The title INCREDIBLE JOURNEY allows the writer the scope to create a pulsing narrative with forward-moving momentum, though some journeys may be less fast-moving and powered more by reflection. We’ll be looking for stories which move us from A to B – or from A to Z with any number of letters in between. We’re looking for the what-happens-next factor, but also for stories that move us emotionally. Mainly, we want to be enthralled and intrigued by a sense of change that cannot fail to be experienced as we get to the last lines of your story. Your incredible journey can be one of political or personal change; it can be inspirational or can focus on a small challenge. The landscape may alter radically… but please, we’re not looking for descriptive essays. As ever, we want uniquely South African voices – voices, in this case, that capture roller-coaster rides of incredible experience.

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  • Bloody Satisfied by Nechama Brodie, Peter Church, Anthony Ehlers, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Dawn Garisch, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Liam Kruger, Greg Lazarus, Siphiwo Mahala, Sandile Memela, Peter Merrington, T.O. Molefe, Jill Morsbach, Chris Nicholson, Yewande Omotoso, Andrew Salomon, Melissa Siebert, Anirood Singh, Roger Smith, Jo Stielau, Mncedise Thambe, Colin Ward, edited by Joanne Hichens
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    EAN: 9780987043733
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Fiction Friday: Extract From The Sea – "Up She Rises" by SA Partridge

SA Partridge

The SeaMermaids, shipwrecks, and horror stories all from the deep feature in this week’s Fiction Friday.

Our short story excerpt comes from the pen of SA Partridge, author of such books as Sharp Edges and Dark Poppy’s Demise.

Shared on Aerodrome, “Up She Rises” conjures up old sea magic within the anthology, The Sea, edited by Nerine Dorman.

There were whispers among the fishermen that something was wrong with the sea. They would know, if there was. Ma believed that I was one of the ocean’s children too, just like Pa. She had accepted it, as if my fate was a certainty. When I was much younger, the realisation that I belonged to this wild, unpredictable creature filled me with dread, but nowadays I found myself feeling the urge to be near the water more and more. Maybe Ma was right, after all. But then again, she usually was.

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Enter the Nova Short Story Competition for Budding Sci-fi and Fantasy Writers

Tech-Savvy ParentingConquestThe Shining GirlsBroken Monsters

The closing date for entries for the annual Nova Short Story Competition, run by Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa, is drawing near.

The competition, which is “open to everyone, even to international and extraterrestrial aliens, as long as they can write in English”, is divided into two sections, South African and General; with prize money of R2 000 for the former and R1 500 for the latter.

2013′s winners were Belinda Lewis, in the General section, for “Unearthly Creatures”, with David Platt taking the South African section with his short story “Doppelganger”.

Arthur Goldstuck, author of the newly released Tech-Savvy Parenting: A Guide to Raising Safe Children in a Digital World and head of WorldWideWorx, will judge the South African section, while the General section will be judged by Jenny Ridyard, co-author of Conquest, who takes over from last year’s judge Lauren Beukes.

The winning entries and finalists will be published in Probe.

The closing date for entries is midnight of 30 September 2014.

Press release

On 7/8/2014, an incident occurred in Southern Africa. We’ve all heard the jokes, the usual human reaction to disaster: “I was tremortised when the President dropped his wallet”; “Did the earth move for you, too?”, “It was all over in 90 seconds. Just like my husband”, and so on and so on. These comments trivialise the serious implications of which few people are aware: Seconds before the earthquake, NASA detected an EMP coming from the underground alien base hidden on the far side of the moon.

Exactly why the aliens aimed at Orkney, or how the pulse travelled through the centre of the moon, are known unknowns. Some say they were targeting the two mermaids found in the fire pool at Nkandla. Others say it was a premature emission from an uncompleted death ray. And there are more questions we’re not even aware of: the unknown unknowns, as Rumsfeld would say.

If this sounds fantastic, it’s because it IS fantastic. If your readers think they can do better; if fantasy for your readers means more than fifty shades of monochrome; if fiction for your readers has a strong scientific slant; if your readers are inspired by the fantastic tapestry of daily life in South Africa, then perhaps they should enter the Nova short story competition run by Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa (SFFSA).

Prizes totalling R2 000 are on offer in the South African section of the competition (sponsored by the WorldWideWorx-renowned Arthur Goldstuck), with an additional R1 500 on offer in the General section. This annual competition is intended for budding writers of science fiction and/or fantasy short stories, and is open to everyone, even to international and extraterrestrial aliens, as long as they can write in English.

But the end is nigh! The deadline for Nova 2014 is 30 September 2014. So write right now.

Details can be found at, or by emailing, or by contacting Gavin on 084 830 0608.


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150 Stories: Nuwe verhale en ou gunstelinge deur Nataniël

150 Stories’n Bundel met van Nataniël se beste verhale verskyn eersdaags by Human en Rousseau – 150 Stories:

’n Versameling van die bekende en gewilde Nataniël se verhoogverhale is die ideale Kersgeskenk. Nataniël is een van Suid-Afrika se meester-storievertellers op die verhoog. Sy unieke stem en styl, sy spitsvondige en skerpsinnige humor, sy deernis vir die verskoppelinge en verstotelinge, dit alles maak hom ’n belangrike stem in ons kultuur en samelewing.

Die versameling sluit in byna al sy verhale (Afrikaans én Engels) uit ouer bundels wat reeds deur die jare uit druk geraak het (Oopmond, Rubber, Maria Maria, Tuesday, Kaalkop 2, When I was), sowel as 10 nuwe stories.

Oor die outeur

Nataniël is op Grahamstad gebore. Hy het skool gegaan aan die Laerskool Riebeeck-Kasteel en Hoërskool De Kuilen in Kuilsrivier. Na skool studeer hy musiek aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch. Hy het aanvanklik bekendheid verwerf as kabaretster en verhoogkunstenaar met, maar sedert die 1990’s is hy ook bekend as skrywer en koskenner.

Sy publikasies sluit in Dancing with John (1992), Rubber (1996), Tuesday (2001), Food from the White House (2002), Kaalkop (2004) en When I was (2008). Hy skryf ook al vir ’n hele paar jaar sy Kaalkop-rubriek vir Sarie.