Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

'He murdered all his brain cells with the papsak' - Read a story from Tjieng Tjang Tjerries by Jolyn Phillips

‘He murdered all his brain cells with the papsak’ – Read a story from Tjieng Tjang Tjerries by Jolyn Phillips


Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other storiesThis Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from Jolyn Phillips’s new collection of short stories Tjieng Tjang Tjerries.

Phillips hails from Blompark, Gansbaai on the Western Cape coast, and is currently working on a PhD in Language Education at the University of the Western Cape. She was a 2014 Mandela Rhodes Scholar and completed a Masters in Creative Writing at UWC in 2013. Tjieng Tjang Tjerries is her first book.

Modjaji Books founder and publisher Colleen Higgs says of the book: “As you will see by the things that the writers who have read and love her work have said, I’m not the only one who feels thrilled by the voice of this young woman.”

And Higgs is right. Tjieng Tjang Tjerries has collected high praise from literary luminaries such as Antjie Krog, Meg Vandermerwe and Shaun Johnson.

The book is being launched next week Tuesday, 19 April, at The Book Lounge in Cape Town – an event not to be missed!

Meanwhile, read a story from the collection to whet your appetite:

* * * * *

The dog just came here one day. No one knew where he came from and I don’t think anyone was looking for him. The dog looked brandsiek like a pavement special, a mix between a poodle and a husky. Shame, the poor thing was ugly and that was the end of it. I felt so sorry for him, so I let him sleep in my yard. I gave bones and leftovers for the dog to eat, but he stayed thin. Later on, we got used to each other. He never listened to my commands, but he would walk all the way to the stop sign at the end of our street and wait there for me until I returned from the Andries Café in Skool Street. One day I thought, Ag, give the poor thing a name. I started calling him Snuffles then Fluffy, then Ore, but he never responded when I called him those names. Until old Hennie came over one day, for coffee and a few ginger cookies. He actually lived here, in my house, but sometimes he forgot. He didn’t remember who he was or where he came from – it’s the wine that made him like that, so I treated him like he was a long-lost cousin, or someone visiting from a faraway country. Hennie liked that. He changed his role every day.

That day the dog comes up to Hennie and starts sniffing his ankles. Hennie says, ‘Shu, but that is a bloody ugly dog!’

Suddenly the dog sits up, waving his tail excitedly.

‘That’s it!’ I cried, ‘The blerrie dog’s name is Lelik! You know, Hennie, I have been looking for a name for the thing for quite some time now. I think he likes the name Lelik.’

But enough about the dog. Let me tell you more about Old Hennie. He is maar a strange oomie, a wanderer. He has nine fingers and he has an Afrikaans accent that sounds like the skop, skiet and donner American movies we watch every Friday on Etv. Heaven knows where he got it, and I never cared to ask, now that I think about it. Years ago Hennie worked in a butchery, next to Susan’s in town. One evening he had to close the shop and he wanted to steal some meat before he went home, but he was too drunk and ended up cutting off his index finger, shame. I am not even his child, but I look after him because he murdered all his brain cells with the papsak. It was very bad. One evening he came home, I was hanging over the gate watching him come down the road, just like an ouroeke. He stood there with a businessman smile and asked me very politely, ‘Do you know where Josephine Fielies lives?’

I burst out laughing. You see, of course, I am Josephine Fielies and he didn’t even remember it, so soft has his brain got from all the drinking. I laughed until it felt like my stomach muscles were pulling apart. Until I found myself crying. I couldn’t believe that Hennie had just asked me where I, Josephine Fielies, lived. I took him by the arm and invited him in for a cup of coffee, still hot. He drank it like it was cool drink, in one go. It’s as if his body forgot to react to the pain. He had forgotten how to be human. That is what I told myself. Afterwards, he went into the bedroom to rest after his third cup of ‘boeretroos’, as he calls it when he is the rich boer from Baardskeerdersbos. He seemed a bit weak. I knew that soon it would be my responsibility to change his nappies also. His body was getting weaker by the day. That is what I told myself. Sometimes he just sat there like he was dead, his entire body unable to move. He mumbled nonsense things like, ‘Spider webs, spider webs, spider webs’ and went back to looking like a statue.

Once, it was a Monday morning and I was busy making cabbage stew, I didn’t hear him come to the kitchen and he screamed, ‘Spinnerakke!’ The Lord must forgive me for my French, maar ek het my binne in my moer geskrik. All you saw was a wooden spoon and cabbage flying in the air. ‘Hygend! The focking jong.’

Old Hennie and Lelik became best friends. Wherever Hennie was, so was Lelik. Old Hennie couldn’t walk so fast anymore, that is why Lelik walked behind him, and if you dared to touch Hennie, Lelik would vreet your ankles. It was like the dog was protecting the old man. So at least I didn’t worry too much, Lelik was there to look after Hennie if he got himself into any trouble. So it was strange when one day Lelik came home by himself without Hennie. But I just thought to myself, maybe it is because old Hennie is walking slower, or visiting a neighbour. After a few hours and still no Hennie, I went to check whether Hennie was sitting at the edge of the street sign, the one made from concrete. It was his usual spot to smoke his pipe. But Hennie was nowhere to be seen. I became worried when the street lights began to lighten up the street. Darkness was coming and still no Hennie. I then walked over to his son’s house, and we drove to the police because that son of Hennie’s has a car now. That house used to be Hennie’s. But the son had made it his and didn’t worry about his father who was too sick to know home from the street. The police officer stood behind the counter and told us to come back in 72 hours, only then can they declare him as missing. I swear it was the longest 72 hours of my life. After 72 hours we went back. Still no Hennie. The policeman made us fill in a form. He asked if we had any photos. I only had one, of when we were younger, before Hennie’s brain went deurmekaar. When he still worked at the factory. It doesn’t look much like him now, but I still gave it to the policeman.

People started looking, the dogs and the inspectors were looking, and the local newspaper asked the community to be on the lookout. Months later his face was even on the TV. Everyone searched, except for Lelik.

Meanwhile, Hennie’s eldest son took over the house and shamelessly put his two brothers out. Maybe it served them right for not taking care of their father properly. The eldest couldn’t wait to turn the house into a hotel, for him and his family. Ticket, his younger brother, lives with me in the old caravan in the back yard. Skerul, the second eldest, sleeps with his meide; he has one in almost every part of Gansbaai. How the eldest got the house is a mystery. When I asked the brothers how they got put out, they just say, ‘We don’t want to talk about it now.’ I didn’t ask further because I take pride in keeping my nose out of other people’s business. To think the eldest brother didn’t give me a blue cent, not a blooming tiekie for looking after his father. But the Lord will provide, it is no use complaining, He will provide. And Lelik, he is still living here with me, barely leaving the yard.

I cannot believe it has been eight years since Hennie went missing. I for one still believe to this day that Hennie is alive. One of these good days he will return from his long trip and visit. I wonder what he will be this time. Probably a Frenchman or an Ingels Jintelmin. I will invite him in for coffee like before and we will eat lamingtons and oliebolle – those are his favourite. At the moment, Lelik is my only hope. I know Lelik knows where his friend is. The only problem is I talk and Lelik barks.

* * * * *

Book details

New $50,000 literary prize rewards 'real female characters'



A new literary award celebrating original work with a central woman protagonist has been announced.

The Half the World Global Literati Award, which is worth $50,000 (about R740,000), will be awarded to a short story, novel or screenplay written in English, judged to “have portrayed one or more well-rounded female protagonists as the central character”.

A distinguished panel of academics, writers and media professionals who are “each committed to advancing women’s voices within their field” – including our very own Margie Orford – will judge the award.

The panel of judges includes Orford, internationally acclaimed writer, award-winning journalist, and President of PEN South Africa; Anne Harrison, producer for the Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated film The Danish Girl; Dr Lisa Tomlinson, scholar, cultural critic and lecturer of English literature at the University of West Indies; Gina Otto, bestselling author of Cassandra’s Angel and founder of children’s social activation platform Change My World Now; Kenneth Goh, editor-in-chief of Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore; KF Breene, international bestseller of the Darkness and Warrior Chronicles series; Michael Marckx, lecturer, writer, environmental activist and former CEO of Spy; and Debra Langley, executive director of Half the World Holdings.

Caroline Bowler, representative for Half the World Holdings, says: “According to 2015 research from author Nicola Griffith, the majority of the significant literary prizes are awarded to works written from a male perspective. The Half the World Global Literati Award is specifically designed to put the spotlight on real female characters and positively impact how women are represented in contemporary writing.

“This award is a natural fit for us, to support the voices and stories of women as well as play a leading role in developing an ecosystem created by, and for, half the world.”

Half the World Holdings is an investment platform that supports businesses for whom women are the end-consumer.

Half the World Global Literati Award guidelines

  • The work may be a short story, novel or screenplay, from any genre, written in the English language
  • All submissions meeting this criteria are welcome
  • The closing date for entries is 8 June, 2016
  • Please submit works for consideration via
  • The shortlist will be announced on 22 June, 2016

The winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award will be announced on 15 July, 2016.

More information from Half the World Holdings:

We are looking for short stories, novels and screenplays, written in English, that give a voice to the inner lives of women. Your work can be romantic; a tale of science fiction; a sensual or erotic exploration; a comic caper; a thrilling mystery or a biographical memoir. We ask only that gives fresh insight into the lives of women.

  • Generous cash prize and global exposure
  • Collaboration opportunities in multiple areas of entertainment
  • Open to works across a range of genres

If you are an author with a script slumbering in a drawer, we want to hear from you.

Take the next step and submit your creativity here.

The Award is an initiative of Half the World Holdings, a women-focused investment platform.

Book Launch: Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories by Jolyn Phillips

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries
Modjaji Books and The Book Lounge are delighted to invite you to the launch of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries & Other Stories by Jolyn Phillips.

Last year at the Franschoek Literary Festival, I heard Shado Twala talking to Jolyn Phillips, a session was over, they were sitting next to each other, and I overheard them. I think Jolyn had just been reading or was part of something that Shado had seen her do. I got the electrical current intuitive feeling I had when I read Whiplash by Tracey Farren. I asked Jolyn if she was a writer and she said yes, she had a collection of short stories. I asked for her email and wrote to her. There is quite a bit more to this story, but in the end Modjaji got to publish the collection and I’m really excited about it. As you will see by the things that the writers who have read and love her work have said, I’m not the only one who feels thrilled by the voice of this young woman.

“An impressive debut that brings across voices never heard before in South African English – not only in rhythm and timbre, but plumbing the unspoken. With such a remarkable ear, Jolyn Philips is a young writer to watch.”
Antjie Krog

“It is rare that one encounters a debut as good as this one. Humane, humorous and completely original, these sparkling stories gives a voice to a South African community too long ignored by the literary canon. Jolyn Phillips is a gifted young writer to watch.”
Meg Vandermerwe (Zebra Crossing and This Place I Call Home)

“A most original new voice in South African literature”
Shaun Johnson (The Native Commissioner)

Jolyn Phillips

Jolyn Phillips was born and grew up in Blompark, Gansbaai on the western Cape coast. She is currently working on her PhD in Language Education at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and is a 2014 Mandela Rhodes Scholar. In 2013 she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at UWC. Since 2012, she has participated in the Open Book and the Franschoek Literary Festivals. Her writing has also been published in Aerodrome, an online literary website, an anthology This Land I Call Home (UWC CREATES) and Ghost Eater and Other Stories (Umuzi). Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories is her first book.

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 19 April 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, corner of Roeland and Buitenkant streets, CBD, Cape Town
  • Guest Speaker: Meg Vandermerwe
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine compliments of Leopard’s Leap and snacks
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, +27 21 462 2425

Book Details

2016 Short Sharp Stories Awards longlist announced

Adults OnlyBloody SatisfiedIncredible Journey

Alert! The 2016 Short Sharp Stories Awards longlist has been announced!

The Short Sharp Stories Awards is an annual short story competition made possible by the National Arts Festival. Previous anthologies of winning stories include crime fiction (Bloody Satisfied), sexy stories (Adults Only), and incredible journeys (Incredible Journey).

The Short Sharp Stories Awards recently won a National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences Book, Creative and Digital Award for Best Edited Fiction Volume.

This year’s theme is “Die Laughing”.

“Thank you to all writers who entered stories for Die Laughing,” series curator Joanne Hichens says. “The following names comprise the longlist from which the final selection of stories will be made over the next few weeks.”

Congratulations to all 28 authors on the list.

2016 Short Sharp Stories Awards longlist

Anton Krueger
Andile Cele
Andrea Chothia
Barbara Erasmus
Bobby Jordan
Catriona Ross
Charles Kusner
Christopher McMichael
Diane Awerbuck
Fred Khumalo
Frieda-Marie De Jager
Gail Schimmel
Glen Thompson
Greg Lazarus
Janine Milne
Jumani Clarke
Koobus Moolman
Kristien Potgieter
Lester San
Megan Voysey
Mia Arderne
Michael Yee
Nosiswa Ngwata
Nchavelelo Bright Shilgwambana
Ntsika Gogwana
Ofentse Ribane
Pravasan Pillay
Raphael D’Adbon
Sally Ann Murray
Sibongile Shabangu
Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo
Stephen Symons
Werner Pretorius

This year’s judges are Ken Barris, Karina Szczurek and Karabo Kgoleng.

A foreword to the collection will be written by Evita Bezuidenhout.

Book details

4 South Africans, 3 Nigerians shortlisted for 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize


Alert! The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist has been announced – including seven African writers.

The prize – which aims to “brings stories from new and emerging voices, often from countries with little or no publishing infrastructure, to the attention of an international audience” – received nearly 4,000 entries from 47 countries this year.

26 stories by writers from 11 countries make up the shortlist.

The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English, translations also eligible. Five winners from the five different Commonwealth regions are selected, winning £2,500 (about R53,000) each, with the overall winner receiving £5,000 (about R106,000).

The South African writers on the list are established authors Andrew Salomon, Cat Hellisen and Mark Winkler, as well as newcomer Faraaz Mahomed, a clinical psychologist and human rights researcher based in Johannesburg.

This is the second time Hellisen, Salomon and Winkler are facing off in a short story prize – having been placed first, second and third respectively in the 2015 Short Story Day Africa Award. Salomon was also the winner of the 2015 Short.Sharp.Stories Award.

Tokoloshe SongWastedBeastkeeper


From Nigeria, Lausdeus Chiegboka, Enyeribe Ibegwam and Oyinkan Braithwaite have been shortlisted.
The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist (African writers in bold):

  • Aabirah, Sophia Khan (Pakistan)
  • A Visitation, Jane Healey (United Kingdom)
  • Black Milk, Tina Makereti (New Zealand)
  • Charmed, Jane Downing (Australia)
  • Children of the Zocalo, Don McLellan (Canada)
  • Confluence, Nova Gordon-Bell (Jamaica)
  • Cow and Company, Parashar Kulkani (India)
  • Dirty White Strings, Kritika Pandey (India)
  • Eel, Stefanie Seddon (United Kingdom)
  • Ethelbert and the Free Cheese, Lance Dowrich (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Exorcism, Lausdeus Chiegboka (Nigeria)
  • Girdhar’s Mansion, Sumit Ray (India)
  • Imbecile, Craig S Whyte (United Kingdom)
  • Instant Karma, Vinayak Varma (India)
  • Kurram Valley, Munib A Khan (Pakistan)
  • Niroporadh Ghum (Innocent Sleep), Sumon Rahman (Bangladesh) (translated by Arunava Sinha)
  • Saving Obadiah, Enyeribe Ibegwam (Nigeria)
  • Space Invaders, Stuart Snelson (United Kingdom)
  • The Driver, Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nigeria)
  • The Entomologist’s Dream, Andrew Salomon (South Africa)
  • The Pigeon, Faraaz Mahomed (South Africa)
  • This Here Land, Miranda Luby (Australia)
  • This is How We Burn, Cat Hellisen (South Africa)
  • Vestigial, Trent Lewin (Canada)
  • When I Came Home, Mark Winkler (South Africa)
  • Where Mountains Weep, Bonnie Etherington (New Zealand)

After an initial sift-through by a team of international readers, the judging panel, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth – Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (Caribbean), and Patrick Holland (Pacific) – chose the shortlist.

Chair of judges, South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, said of the shortlist: “As a novelist accustomed to the luxury of the long form it has been a treat to discover writers who manage to crystallise such different experiences into so few words.

“The stories we have chosen for the shortlist are in turn comic, touching, poetic, mysterious but always fresh and unexpected.”
Excerpts from all 26 stories are available to read on the Commonwealth Writers website.

The Entomologist’s Dream, Andrew Salomon:

Yasmin Ingabire.

Forty two.

Anywhere? You are sure about that, Sergeant Migambi? Very well, I think the appropriate place to start would be at the boxing gym in Kicukiro District. This was almost a year ago.

You know the sound a padded glove makes when it hits against someone’s ribs? It’s a kind of flat smack. I heard that sound all the time in the boxing gym. When I could hear a smack, a pause and then one or two more smacks in quick succession I’d know the boxers were in a clinch. I couldn’t see the ring or much else from where I sat, but I’d been going there long enough to be able to form a picture in my head of what was happening.

The Pigeon, Faraaz Mahomed:

Each morning, for about four months now, I am woken by the same foul, fat pigeon. I am certain that he’s the same one, even though I have no means to prove it. In truth, I have no way to be sure he is a he either. It used to occur to me that maybe he had left something at the window, or inside and was hoping that being here to retrieve it would allow him some release. On most Saturdays, I leave the window open. It makes me feel kind, because I am easing his spirit into the next phase or something of that nature.

This is How We Burn, Cat Hellisen:


The ink was blue, fading across the flyer into what might have once been red but was now the pink of discarded Valentine’s cards. A rainbow wave of disquiet and superstition. An A5 job lot – 5000 flyers for seven hundred grimy South African rands. Lindela scanned the rest of the flyer, though it was nothing new. Just a distraction. Like the lulling rattle of the wheels against the track. A measure for passing time.

When I Came Home, Mark Winkler:

When I came home there were strange people in my house, and they gathered tight at the front door to block my entry.

“How did you get in?” I asked.

A young woman raised her index finger and before my eyes the tip of it took the shape of a key.
“Go away,” she said. “You’ve lived in this house for long enough.”

The house had been my father’s, and his father’s before. Was she using the plural, I wondered? And if so how could she know these things?

I asked if I might collect some of my belongings.

“No,” the woman said. “You’ve had the benefit of them for long enough.” And she closed the door.

Related stories:

Book details

Jacob Dlamini and Imraan Coovadia among the winners at the inaugural NIHSS Book, Creative and Digital Awards

Jacob Dlamini and Imraan Coovadia among the winners at the inaugural NIHSS Book, Creative and Digital Awards


Alert! The inaugural National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Book, Creative and Digital Awards ceremony took place last night in Parktown, Johannesburg.

Winners included Jacob Dlamini for Askari (Jacana Media); Imraan Coovadia for Tales of the Metric System (Umuzi); the 2014 Short Sharp Stories Award anthology Adults Only, edited by Joanne Hichens; and recent UKZN Press publication Class in Soweto.

AskariTales of the Metric SystemAdults OnlyClass in Soweto


Awards were also handed out in the categories Digital Humanities and Creative Collections. Each award is valued at R60,000.

Submissions for the awards were open to academics from the humanities and social sciences, as well as creative curators and artists based at South African universities, in any of South Africa’s official languages.

The NIHSS is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

From the NIHSS:

The awards will honour and celebrate outstanding, innovative and socially responsive scholarship, creative and digital contributions that advance in the humanities and social sciences fields. The awards are consequently a platforms to laud outstanding contributions to the humanities and social sciences through scholarly and creative work.

Through its core functions of enhancing and coordinating scholarship, research and ethical practice in humanities and social sciences, the NIHSS seeks to redress existing deficits and also coordinates programmes, projects, collaboration and activities in the humanities and social sciences disciplines through existing public universities.

Ashraf Garda was the master of ceremonies, and the keynote address was given by Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande.

Jacob Dlamini and Imraan Coovadia among the winners at the inaugural NIHSS Book, Creative and Digital AwardsNzimande expressed his delight at the overwhelming response and high standard of entries that the awards received from academics and other practitioners in the field.

“A renewed focus on the importance of the humanities and social sciences is absolutely critical in a world that increasingly values the Sciences, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) as the only measure of development and progress,” Nzimande said.

“The role of the humanities and social sciences must not only assist us in analysing and interpreting the world we live in, but it must enable us to change the material conditions and lived experiences of those most marginalised and alienated in society.”

The judges summations were given by Joyce Myeza (Digital Humanities), Thembinkosi Goniwe (Creative Collections), Shireen Hassim (Books: Non-fiction), and Pumla Dineo Gqola (Books: Fiction)

Winners: Books

Winner Best Non-fiction Monograph:

Jacob Dlamini for Askari

(Shortlisted: Isabel Hofmeyr for Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading, Stephanus Muller for Nagmusiek, Corrine Sandwith for A World of Letters: Reading Communities and Cultural Debates in Early Apartheid South Africa)

Winner Best Non-fiction Edited Volume:

Class in Soweto, edited by Peter Alexander, Claire Ceruti, Keke Motseke, Mosa Phadi and Kim Wale

(Shortlisted: Peter Delius, Laura Phillips and Fiona Rankin-Smith for A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800-2014, Salim Vally and Enver Motala for Education, Economy and Society)

Winner Best Single Authored Fiction (novel, short stories, poetry, drama):

Imraan Coovadia for Tales of the Metric System

(Shortlisted: Antjie Krog for Mede-wete, Bishop Makobe for Tsa Ngweding wa Letopanta)

Winner Edited Fiction Volume:

Adults Only, edited by Joanne Hichens

(Shortlisted: Amitabh Mitra and Naomi Nkealah for Splinters of a Mirage Dawn: An Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa)

Winners: Digital Humanities

Best Digital Humanities Tool or Suite of Tools:

Nirma Madhoo-Chipps for Future Body: Technological Embodiment in Digital Fashion Media

Best Digital Humanities Project for Community Engagement:

Shirley Walters and Astrid von Kotze for Popular Education

Creative Collections

Best Public Performance:

Jay Pather for Live Art Festival

Best Musical Composition/Arrangement:

Sazi Dlamini, Neo Muyanga, Sumangala Damodaran, Ari Sitas (produced by Jürgen Bräuninger) for Insurrections

* * * * *

Watch a video from the event:

YouTube Preview Image
* * * * *

View some tweets from the event:

Book details