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

Facts and Fictions: Find out about Bridge Books - Joburg's newest independent bookstore - and the coming reading revolution

By Jennifer Malec for the Sunday Times

Facts and Fictions: Find out about Bridge Books - Joburg's newest independent bookstore

 
“People are always telling me, ‘Oh, there’s finally a bookstore in town!’ But if you look out that window there are two booksellers right across the street. There’s another one behind us, and if you go round the corner there are just tons and tons of people selling books.”

Griffin Shea likes to emphasise that he is no trailblazer when it comes to selling books in downtown Joburg. But his new shop, Bridge Books, certainly makes an impression. It’s located in the old Barclays Bank on Commissioner Street, one of the city’s most revered Art Deco buildings. You are greeted by a triple-volume entrance hall decked out in wood panelling and brass, bordered by marble colonnades and finished off with giant, glittering chandeliers.

Bridge Books focuses on new and second-hand African and South African books, with a smaller collection of “rest of world” huddled on its own shelf, in a pleasing inversion of standard local bookshop practice. But Shea also acts as a wholesaler to a group of informal vendors who, in turn, source second-hand books for him. “It becomes a two-way dynamic,” he says, “which works so well because if you want classics like Nervous Conditions or Things Fall Apart recent prints are still expensive but if they come in second-hand you can sell them for R80. Lots of people can make an impulse purchase if it’s double digits.”

… When you walk around you realise there’s a lot of reading happening that the formal book industry just doesn’t know about.

Shea describes the informal booksellers he works with as “disenfranchised from the world of books”. Many are migrants or young entrepreneurs, without a bank account, credit record or ID book. “That makes it very difficult to interact with large companies, because companies need you to have those things, and reasonably so. But there’s also no reason not to bridge the gap and be the go-between.” And that’s his plan.

An aspiring novelist in the young adult genre himself, and with a vague plan of selling his own books, Shea struck out into the inner city last year. “I was armed with all this grim data about how nobody reads in South Africa,” he says. “But when you walk around you realise there’s a lot of reading happening that the formal book industry just doesn’t know about.”

His ambition is to connect the publishing establishment with the reading that happens “quite literally on the street”. But he also wants to keep it simple. “When I hear these debates about decolonising publishing, it blows my mind,” he says. “There are these huge issues, but there are also some very simple problems that, if solved, can have a big impact.”

For example, informal booksellers have a hard time keeping their stock safe from theft, water and rats. Shea mentioned this to Pan Macmillan, who donated some plastic bins and trolleys. “That’s a problem you can solve with R1000, and it can significantly change the way people do business,” Shea says. “Nobody needs their problems solved for them, but to provide a tiny bit of support, that’s part of what I’m trying to do. To make connections with people that they might not otherwise have, for dumb reasons.”

Bridge Books hasn’t been open long, but Shea says the response has been “amazing”. “People gravitate to a bookstore where they feel they will find what they’re looking for,” he says. “There’s a disillusionment about bookstores – without slamming anyone – and there’s a demand for local stories. I think in the city people feel neglected.”

SO what are people looking for? Well, everything. But Shea says his younger customers are interested in lesser known liberation heroes, as well as early African or pre-colonial stories about the San or Mapungubwe. “They tend not to be so obsessed with the recent past, which weighs so heavily on many people. They want a much broader look at history, which is inspiring.”

Shea says the bad rap publishers and bookshops often get in South Africa is undeserved. “There’s this idea that they don’t want to sell books to the population at large, but they all do,” Shea says. “Not everyone knows how. Everyone I’ve been in contact with is willing to experiment and gamble on this very random project in town. People really are willing to try, and if this project addresses just one little thing, it’s a start.”

Shea is starting an NGO, the African Book Trust, which will buy books to donate to libraries. To find out more and hear about Bridge Books events, follow them on Facebook.com/bridgebooksjoburg

Griffin Shea recommends

Radiance of Tomorrow
Ishmael Beah - Famous for his memoir about being a child soldier, Radiance of Tomorrow is about returning home. It’s gorgeously written, because he translates often very literally from his mother tongue into English, which creates some beautiful metaphors.•
 
 
 

Sometimes there is a Void
Zakes Mda - As soon as the books arrive they go back out. I ordered two of everything to start, to see what would work, but two is not enough for Zakes Mda. You need 10 of each thing and they just keep going.•
 
 
 

Affluenza
Niq Mhlongo - Affluenza is really good. Short stories are underappreciated; they’re really hard to write. These are gorgeous little gems, and as a parent of young children I like that I can have a feeling of accomplishment by finishing one and then collapsing asleep.•
 
 
 

So Long a Letter
So Long a Letter - People are always looking for Nervous Conditions and Things Fall Apart, so to broaden the African canon a bit, Mariama Bâ is someone we don’t usually read because the books are geographically or linguistically distant.
 
 
 

* * * * *
I Write What I LikeOliver Tambo RememberedThe Coming RevolutionEight Days in SeptemberCyril RamaphosaWhen Hope Whispers

Bridge Books top sellers

1. I Write What I Like, by Steve Biko
2. Oliver Tambo Remembered, edited by Z Pallo Jordan
3. The Coming Revolution: Julius Malema and the Fight for Economic Freedom, edited by Floyd Shivambu
4. Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki, by Frank Chikane
5. Cyril Ramaphosa, by Anthony Butler
6. When Hope Whispers, by Zoleka Mandela

Follow Jennifer Malec on Twitter @projectjennifer

Book details

  • Oliver Tambo Remembered: A Collection of Contributions from Around the World Celebrating the Life of OR Tambo edited by Zweledinga Pallo Jordan
    EAN: 9781770102361
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Don't miss Die Laughing - the new Short Sharp Stories Awards anthology

I am thrilled with the intriguing interpretations of this year’s theme. The inventiveness, the mix of raw and honed talent, and the dark humour make for a rewarding read. – Karina Szczurek

Die LaughingTattoo Press and Jacana Media are proud to bring you Die Laughing, an anthology of stories of wit, satire and humour:

Die Laughing is the fourth of the Short Sharp Stories Awards annual anthologies, following Bloody Satisfied (2013), Adults Only (2014) and Incredible Journey (2015).

In this anthology, writers have poked a little fun at our crazy country, at our politics, our idiosyncrasies, and our down-right ridiculous habits. A number of stories, all with a strong sense of the South African setting, look on the lighter, brighter side of life, and, of course, dark humour is included too – irony, satire and tragi-comedy.

With a foreword by Evita Bezuidenhout, introduction by Darrel Bristow-Bovey, and stories by new voices as well as prize-winning authors, including Greg Lazarus, Gail Schimmel, Fred Khumalo, Stephen Symons, Kobus Moolman, Ofentse Ribane, Barbara Erasmus and Diane Awerbuck, Die Laughing promises to be another stand-out anthology.

The judging panel of the competition was made up of Ken Barris, Karabo Kgoleng and Karina Szczurek.

Adults Only won the coveted 2016 NIHSS Award (National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences) for Best Edited Collection, and two stories from Incredible Journey were nominated for the 2016 Caine Prize, with Lidudumalingani announced as the winner.

Die Laughing was published in July 2016 by Tattoo Press and is available in all good bookstores. Jacana Media are the distributors.

Adults OnlyIncredible JourneyBloody Satisfied

Book details

2016 Lowveld Book Festival programme revealed

2016 Lowveld Book Festival programme revealed

 
Alert! The full programme for the 2016 Lowveld Book Festival has been revealed.

The festival will take place from 5-7 August this year in Mpumalanga.

Authors involved in the festival this year include Jayne Bauling, Mabonchi Goodwill Motimele, Joanne Macgregor, Arja Salafranca, Bontle Senne, Fiona Snyckers, Tony Park, Sindiwe Magona, Wynie Strydom, Pamela Power, Onkgopotse JJ Tabane, Eric Miyeni, Jessica Pitchford – and many more!

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, 5 August to Sunday, 7 August 2015
  • Venue: Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre
    White River
    Mpumalanga | Map
  • Email: lowveldbookfestival@gmail.com
  • Phone: 071 134 8172
* * * * *

2016 Lowveld Book Festival programme

FRIDAY 5 AUGUST 2016

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – by invitation)
Lenore Zietsman – African Dilemma – story for high school children

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – by invitation)
Elinor Sisulu – PUKU presentation to younger primary school children – musical storytelling workshop

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre Marquee – by invitation)
Elinor Sisulu – PUKU presentation to older primary school children – artist Khehla Chepape Magkatho facilitates an art workshop

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – by invitation)
Ida Gartrell – Spinner of Tales – storytelling

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre)
Opening cocktail party (with Dave Walters, Lenore Zietsman, Dr Mathews Phosa, Jenny Cryws-Williams)

7:00 PM – 08:30 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – introduces the movie Happiness is a Four-letter Word – a South African romantic drama directed by Thabang Moleya and written by Melissa Stack based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre)
Casterbridge Music Development Academy – gentle background music

* * * * *

SATURDAY 6 AUGUST 2016

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R30)
Alita Steenkamp – Die vreugde en uitdagings om met woorde te woeker (the joy and challenges of working with words)

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – free)
Jayne Bauling, Kiran Coetzee, Bontle Senne – Launch of two youth novels and a group discussion

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s storytime

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Jessica Pitchford – Switched at Birth – Jessica discusses her book which is an insight into a story that gripped the public imagination, a story of living with the unliveable and how some decisions can never be unmade.

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Eric Miyeni – Interview by Jenny Cryws-Williams on literature, publishing and writing and about Eric Miyeni’s books specifically

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Joanne Macgregor – Workshop – Swinging both ways: a hybrid author speaks about self-publishing after being traditionally published

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s story time

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Wynie Strydom – A chat about his book My Bloed is Blou and he will share a few toerstories

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Boardroom – R30)
Hans Bornman – A well known historian who has written books about history, people and pioneers of the Lowveld, will talk about how he got into writing

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – free)
Mabonchi Goodwill Motimele, Nozizwe Cynthia Jele, Arthur Sithole – Panel discussion on furthering literacy in our youth – facilitated by Bontle Senne

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R50)
Melanie Reeder-Powell, Elliot Ndlovu – A Sangoma’s Story: The Calling of Elliot Ndlovu – her book sheds light on Zulu culture and clarifies the misconceptions about traditional healing

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Bandstand – free)
Open Mic (Poetry and readings)

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Jacquie Gauthier – In conversation with Karabo Kgoleng – Igniting your passion and having the life you want

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Boardroom – R100)
Graeme Butchart – Workshop – Think out of the box. Author of The Genius Programme delivers a workshop about acquiring the tools to unlock your creative thinking.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Tony Park – Interview by Jenny Cryws-Williams – Jenny will discuss Tony’s book An Empty Coast and his new book Red Earth and much more in between.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
Athol Williams – Poetry – Bumper Cars: a social, political and philosophical reflection on human conflict. Athol’s poetry discusses how love is central to resolving this conflict.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Deanne Kim – Lifting the Veil – Author of the books Cinderbella Gets Divorced and The Cracked Slipper

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R30)
Siphesihle AfrikaWisdom Shabalala – Literature is life

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Sindiwe Magona – Untended Fires

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
David Hilton-Barber – Footprints in the Lowveld – a book about pioneering people, interesting places and significant events

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Dr Arien van der Merwe – Managing Diabetes and other related health challenges – an holistic and integrative medicine approach

1:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Cindy Robertson – Verhaalwerkswinkel (workshop) – ‘n Liefdesverhaal … waar begin ek?

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Pamela Power – Having it all – just not all at once – an interview by Joanne Macgregor about Pamela’s book Ms Conception which compares breastfeeding with becoming a successful writer

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Enrico & Erna Liebenberg –
We are the Champions: Champion Trees of South Africa – The oldest and largest and most spectacular of trees in South Africa are afforded the title of Champion Tree and thus protected by law. Join Enrico and Erna Liebenberg on an armchair journey through South Africa and be captivated by the imagery of the sometimes gargantuan and sometimes familiar sights of these trees, some of which are way beyond a millennium old and be wowed by our Natural heritage in trees of which so few people are aware.

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
David Patient – David will discuss his books Make a Plan … Possibility and Empowerment in a Time of Aids and Positive Health

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Samkela Stamper, Eric Miyeni, Sindiwe Magoma – Panel discussion lead by Karabo Kgoleng – Initiatives to Decolonise Literacy and Literature

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
Linda Louw – Horses of Kaapsehoop – a six year project paying tribute to the wild herds of horses of the Kaapsehoop escarpment

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Walter Thornhill – Truth, Memory and Perception – talk weaves in and out of these three dynamics within the context of writing through the eyes of the child and the adult; questioning the relevance and veracity thereof (author of The Eye of the Child)

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Paul-Constant Smit – Do you really see? – a talk on how each one of us perceives things differently

4:00 PM – 4:50 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Ida Gartrell – Storytelling – The Fabulous Creatures of Zulu Mythology for adults and children alike

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Bontle Senne, Jayne Bauling, Fiona Snyckers – Who is reading and what?

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Katja Kowalec – Those Miraculous Sunflower Seeds: A Riveting Story of Faith, Hope and Love

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R30)
Darryl David – Co-author of 101 Country Churches of South Africa, author of A Platteland Pilgrimage and Church Tourism in SA, founder of the Richmond Literary Festival and Richmond Booktown

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Kim Wolhuter, Clyde Niven – Reminiscences of Jock, Fitz, Harry Wolhuter and some of the old timers in the Lowveld

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
Athol Williams, Arja Salafranca – Poetry for Sundowners

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Judith Mason – The Mind’s Eye – Judith discusses how making art is as important and relevant as arithmetic and learning to read and that adult artwork is not only a pleasure but a form of philosophy

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
JJ Tabane – Interview by Karabo Kgoleng about his book Lets Talk Frankly: Letters to Influential South Africans About the State of Our Nation

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Jessica Pitchford – Carte Blanche – the stories behind the stories when Jessica was Managing Editor at Carte Blanche

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Bandstand – free)
Open Mic (Poetry and readings)

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Roger Webster – Fireside Chats – make yourself comfortable and listen to a few of Roger Webster’s fireside stories

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Samkela Stamper – This Woman’s Work … 60 Years On – a mini exhibition explores women in literature who have contributed to the landscape of South African literature

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – introduces the movie Happiness is a Four-letter Word – a South African romantic drama directed by Thabang Moleya and written by Melissa Stack based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R150)
Nik Rabinowitz – Comedy show – What the EFF?

* * * * *

SUNDAY 7 AUGUST 2016

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Paul-Constant Smit – Do you really see? – a talk on how each one of us perceives things differently

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Roger Webster – Fireside Chats – make yourself comfortable and listen to a few of Roger Webster’s fireside stories

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s story time

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R30)
Fiona Snyckers – Trinity series, the lighter side of fiction writing

10:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Boardroom – R100)
Graeme Butchart – Workshop – Think out of the box. Author of The Genius Programme delivers a workshop about acquiring the tools to unlock your creative thinking.

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Tracy Todd – Writing in Dragon – how using voice technology could aid both able and disabled writers

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – free)
Samkela Stamper, Arja Salafranca – A discussion about their approaches and writing styles, their favourite poems as well as a few readings

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s story time

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Pamela Power – This might be a very stupid idea … how stupid ideas become great storylines on TV

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Tony Park – Interview by Nicky Manson (editor of Lowveld Living magazine) about his new book Red Earth and discovering why he loves living in the Lowveld, how he develops his characters and his views on conservation

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Melanie Reeder-Powell, Elliot Ndlovu – A Sangoma’s Story: The Calling of Elliot Ndlovu – her book sheds light on Zulu culture and clarifies the misconceptions about traditional healing

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Enrico & Erna Liebenberg – We are the Champions: Champion Trees of South Africa – The oldest and largest and most spectacular of trees in South Africa are afforded the title of Champion Tree and thus protected by law. Join Enrico and Erna Liebenberg on an armchair journey through South Africa and be captivated by the imagery of the sometimes gargantuan and sometimes familiar sights of these trees, some of which are way beyond a millennium old and be wowed by our Natural heritage in trees of which so few people are aware.

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – free)
Mabonchi Goodwill Motimele – Workshop for writers – The element of surprise in literature

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – introduces the movie Happiness is a Four-letter Word – a South African romantic drama directed by Thabang Moleya and written by Melissa Stack based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name

Book details

Soccer SecretsKe a hwa, ke a ikepelaFault LinesUitsonderlike liefdeBeyond TouchPowers of the Knife
Now Following YouThe Gift of an ElephantAn Empty CoastChasing The Tails of My Father’s CattleWynie - My bloed is blouA Sangoma's Story
Ms ConceptionLet's Talk FranklyLoui FishGold Never RustsHere Comes the Snake in the GrassSwitched At Birth
At the FiresideBumper CarsLandslideWe are the ChampionsFootprintsTrinity On AirRecoil

Read Lidudumalingani's 2016 Caine Prize-winning story "Memories We Lost"

Read Lidudumalingani's 2016 Caine Prize-winning story - and listen to him read it

 

This Fiction Friday, celebrate South African writer Lidudumalingani’s recent Caine Prize victory by reading his winning story, “Memories We Lost”.

The piece was originally published in the 2015 Short Sharp Stories anthology Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You, when it was described by Diane Awerbuck as “a terrifying examination of mental illness based on the writer’s real-life familial experiences”.

At the prize announcement, Chair of Judges Jarrett-Macauley said the story “explores a difficult subject – how traditional beliefs in a rural community are used to tackle schizophrenia”.

“This is a troubling piece,” she continued, “depicting the great love between two young siblings in a beautifully drawn Eastern Cape. Multi-layered, and gracefully narrated, this short story leaves the reader full of sympathy and wonder at the plight of its protagonists.”

Tseliso Monaheng gives a beautiful reading of the story, available to listen to on Soundcloud:


 

 
Don’t miss Lidudumalingani in Johannesburg for an iSwareyi at the end of July.

Without further ado, read an excerpt from “Memories We Lost”:

There was never a forewarning that this thing was coming.

It came out of nowhere, as ghosts do, and it would disappear as it had come. Every time it left, I stretched my arms out in all directions, mumbled two short prayers, one to God and another to the ancestors, and then waited on my terrified sister to embrace me.

The embraces, I remember, were always tight and long, as if she hoped the moment would last forever.

Every time this thing took her, she returned altered, unrecognisable, as if two people were trapped inside her, both fighting to get out, but not before tearing each other into pieces. The first thing that this thing took from her, from us, was speech, and then it took our memories.

She began speaking in a language that was unfamiliar, her words trembling as if trying to relay unthinkable revelations from the gods. The memories faded one after the other until our past was a blur.

Some of the memories that have remained with me are of her screaming and running away from home. I remember when she ran out to the fields in the middle of the night, screaming, first waking my mother and me and then abducting the entire village from their sleep. Men and boys emerged from their houses carrying their knobkerries as if out to hunt an animal. Women and children stayed behind, frightened children clutching their mother’s nightgowns. The men and boys, disorientated and peeved, shuffled in the dark and split into small groups as instructed by a man who at the absence of a clear plan crowned himself a leader. Those with torches flicked them on and pushed back the darkness. Some took candles; they squeezed their bodies close and wrapped blankets around themselves in an attempt to block the wind, but all their matches extinguished before they could light a single candle.

Those without torches or candles walked on even though the next step in such darkness was possibly a plunge down a cliff. This was unlikely, it should be said, as most of them were born in the village, grew up there, got married there, had used that very same field as their toilet for all their lives, and had had in overlapping periods only left the village when they went to work for the white man in large cities.

They had a blueprint of the village in their minds; its walking paths, its indentations, its rivers, its mountains, its holes where ghosts lived were imprinted in their blood.

Hours later, the first small group of men and boys, and then another and another, emerged from the darkness. They did not find her. They had looked everywhere, at least they had claimed. They were worried about not finding my sister or annoyed at being woken in the middle of the night – I could not tell. Morphed into defeated men, their faces drooped to the floor, and their bodies slouched as if they had carried a heavy load. Each group was not aware of the other groups’ whereabouts.

They did not even know if the other groups still existed or if the night had swallowed them. They had last seen them when they wished them luck when they split up. They had heard them yell my sister’s name, in the dark, before going silent.

She did not scream.
She did not cry.
She did not scream.
She did not cry.
She did not respond to the calls.

Each group chanted with great terror. With each group that emerged, I hoped that it would chant something else, but nothing changed; the chant was, as if it had been rehearsed for a long time, repeated the same each time, tearing my heart apart.

She did not scream.
She did not cry.
She did not scream.
She did not cry.
She did not respond to our screams.

The chant went on until all groups had returned.

Mother, a woman of tall build and wide hips, only returned home when the sun was way up in the sky the next day, carrying my sister on her back.

She would scream in intervals as if to taunt me, my mother said.

Related stories:

Incredible JourneyLusaka Punk and Other StoriesThe Gonjon Pin and Other Stories10 Years of the Caine Prize for African WritingA Memory This Size and Other StoriesThe Caine Prize Anthology 2009: Work in Progress and Other Stories

 

Book details

 

Images courtesy of The Caine Prize

Read an excerpt from Binyavanga Wainaina's new short story, "Alien Taste"

Kwani?One Day I Will Write About This PlaceHow to Write About Africa

 
“There are times that even Graham believes the story he has peddled for so many years, about how he came to be gay.”

This Fiction Friday, dip into “Alien Taste”, a new short story on Brittle Paper by acclaimed author Binyavanga Wainaina.

The story starts with the protagonist thinking back on the time he first realised he was gay. Fifteen-year-old Graham drinks beer and has had sex with an older woman (but isn’t convinced that he liked either events).

“He assumed that sex was like beer—that soon it would create an unquestioning language in him, and he could lose himself in its subtleties.”

On the day he decides to smoke in public for the first time, Graham meets a man named Fred, a big Irishman with a deep, careless voice.

Read the excerpt:

There are times that even Graham believes the story he has peddled for so many years, about how he came to be gay. That he had always known; that he used to dress up in his mother; that he had been riveted by the biceps of Mohammed Ali, the anger of those black panthers on television; that he had played the kerfuffle game in public school; that the old gay friends of his mother, who had hosted him when she was in rehab, or consulting her guru in Lucknow, had made it easy to see possibilities in this world. These things are all true, but only small accessories to the main event.

But the main event, as seen by him now, is also untruthful: it was not as clear a sexual selection as he prefers to imagine, and he knows this enough not to share this story– it could well be that he was always gay, and that he would have come to it in one way or another, despite his self-protests to the contrary. But the unambiguous epiphany that the first gay fuck gave him marked not his sexuality, but his approach to life itself, it was his Woodstock, his civil rights movement. And inside himself, he remains unconvinced of his visceral homosexuality, believes that he has willfully created himself.

 
Related stories:

 

Book details

Image courtesy of Brittle Paper and Department of Arts and Culture

Winners of the 2016 Short Sharp Stories Awards announced!

Adults OnlyBloody SatisfiedIncredible Journey

 
Alert! Tattoo Press and Burnet Media are proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Short Sharp Stories Awards for Die Laughing – “stories of wit, satire and humour”.

The winning tales were revealed on Wednesday morning at the National Arts Festival and were selected from a shortlist of 20 stories, announced earlier this year.

 
Here are the winners of the 2016 Short Sharp Stories Awards:

JUDGES’ CHOICE:

BEST STORY:

This Could Get Messy by Greg Lazarus

“A simply wonderful story about love …
Funny, with its twists and turns, chuckles and sadness.”
 

THE RUNNERS-UP:

This Is Not A Joke, Maureen by Gail Schimmel

“Really funny despite its dark subject matter.
The depiction of the humourless mother is exquisite.”
 

Angel Heart by Kobus Moolman

“Unconventional, with an adventurous play of syntax,
and a truly original imagining of Jesus. Bizarre, and intriguing.”
 

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Learning a New Language by Fred Khumalo

“Tongue-in-cheek action which shows up misogyny …
and makes a statement as to learning to appreciate women.”
 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Jim Goes to Durban by Anton Krueger and Pravasan Pillay

“Good, honest, laugh-out-loud slapstick.”
 

Number One With A Bullet by Christopher McMichael

“Truly laugh-out-loud funny, with a satirical edge.”
 

The Derby by Ofentse Ribane

“Written with a sharp energy and an original take.”
 

The Viewing Room by Diane Awerbuck

“A sophisticated, melancholy and quirky story.”
 

The Seduction of Ozzie Stone by Stephen Symons

“The ironies, the plot, it all comes together in easy-flowing, integrated writing,
and leaves one smiling wistfully.”

What did the judges have to say about this year’s Short Sharp Stories?

Karabo K Kgoleng: “There are so many things to consider when you have to judge short stories. The lesson in the judging process, for me, is that I have to always contend with the competing imperatives – mostly style and politics. Death and laughter are encapsulated in the stories that scored for me, the stories that balance these, bearing in mind that I must personally respond to the story.”

Ken Barris: “One’s sense of humour is so subjective that it was a challenge to evaluate the Die Laughing entries. How does one judge the quality and quantity of funny? The tales that stood out were subtle and finely observed, viewed the world from an intriguing position, or were edgy and engaging in style. Most important, the best made me laugh.”

Karina M Szczurek: “I am thrilled with the intriguing interpretations of this year’s theme. The inventiveness, the mix of raw and honed talent, and the dark humour make for a rewarding read.”

Earlier this week Lidudumalingani won the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story “Memories We Lost”, which was published in the 2015 anthology Incredible Journey: Stories that Move You.

The 2014 anthology Adults Only: Stories of love, lust, sex and sexuality edited by Joanne Hichens won the Edited Fiction Volume Award at the inaugural National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Book, Creative and Digital Awards.

This new collection features a foreword by Evita Bezuidenhout, an introduction by Darrel Bristow-Bovey and was edited by Hichens, who is also the curator of the Awards. Keep an eye on Books LIVE for the release date of Die Laughing.

Book details