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"Who’s going to get lucky tonight?" Kate Sidley on her three current literary love interests (and not to worry, Steven - they're only books!)

Published in the Sunday Times

I arrive home from the book launch with a new love interest. Maybe it was the wine. I shouldn’t have had that second glass, we all know how it lowers the defences. Not that that’s any excuse. I know it was entirely my doing. Be that as it may, here I am with not one, but two … shall we say … prospects.

The one was a given, I knew I was going to purchase the launch book, The Season of Glass, the new novel by Rahla Xenopolous. But then the bookstore owner, who knows me and my weakness so well, said, “That book you were asking about just came in.”

It is Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, and it’s fresh and new, all decked out with the gold stamp of the Pulitzer Prize 2018. The very many cover shouts are glowing and there’s the word “hilarious” – nothing does it for me like hilarious – and then “bedazzling” and “endearing”.

I take both books.

I get home and clamber over the mountain of unread and partially read books that I believe was, some time in the early 2000s, a small bedside table. On top is my avowed current partner – Ken Barris’s award-winning The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions.
 
Ooh, I love it. Properly, deeply love it. Wouldn’t leave it for anything. But this wouldn’t be leaving. It is a short story collection, and short story collections are by definition polyamorous. They don’t mind if you go off and frolic in other pastures for a bit. In fact, they expect it. After a dalliance, I find that I return to the relationship with renewed interest and delight.

Having made peace with a small break from Worm (it’s not you, it’s me, I tell him) I read the first few pages of The Season of Glass. You have to read the first pages on the night of the book launch. It’s the done thing. Well, it’s my done thing. The book’s a beauty, really a knock-out, but I’m not shallow, I don’t want to objectify my new love interest. It’s marvellous on the inside, too and though it’s early days, it feels like we’ve got something going.

This morning, when honest to God I should be working and not mucking around in bed with strange new books, I spot Less. In the spirit of research and professionalism (I am after all a book reviewer, and we have responsibilities), I open it up. Just a page or two. To see what all the fuss is about. I won’t lie. I’m intrigued.

Help me, then, with the eternal question of the reader – who’s going to get lucky tonight? @KateSidley

Kate Sidley is the author of 100 Mandela Moments (Jonathan Ball, R190)

The Season of Glass

Book details
The Season of Glass by Rahla Xenopoulos
EAN: 9781415209578
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Less

Less by Andrew Sean Greer
EAN: 9780349143590
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The Life of Worm

The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptiosn by Ken Barris
EAN: 9780795707957
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Short Sharp Stories Award announces panel of judges for 2018

Via Short.Sharp.Stories.

 
Our panel of judges for this year’s Short Sharp Stories Award are drawn from different literary arenas, with expertise ranging from poetry and prose to journalism and creative non-fiction.

They are currently reading the shortlisted stories and we will be announcing the winning stories soon. Each of our judges selected five entries to make up the twenty stories in the final collection, and they will also select the winning entries for this year’s competition.

Diane Awerbuck wrote Gardening at Night, which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean). Her short story collection Cabin Fever was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. Her story ‘Leatherman’ won the 2015 Short Story Day Africa competition. She co-writes a frontier-fiction series with Alex Latimer (under the nom de plume Frank Owen).

Rustum Kozain is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed poets. He has won both the Ingrid Jonker prize and the Olive Schreiner Prize for his debut poetry collection, This Carting Life.

Megan Ross is the author of Milk Fever, an acclaimed poetry debut published by uHlanga. She won the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction in 2017. She is an alumni of the Iceland Writers Retreat, and her work has featured in numerous publications (including the Short Sharp Stories anthologies).

Bongani Kona is a writer and editor at Chimurenga, a pan-African publication of arts, culture and politics. His writing has appeared in a number of anthologies and collections. He was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize for a story which appeared in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories anthology Incredible Journey, and he is the co-editor of Migrations, a short story collection that was published in 2017.

Inskrywings vir die vierde US Woordfees-kortverhaalbundel word ingewag

Via die Woordfeeskantoor

Skrywers kan nou inskryf vir die vierde US Woordfees-kortverhaalbundel, wat by die 2019 Woordfees bekend gestel sal word. Du Toitskloof Wyne borg weer die prysgeld van R30 000 vir die wenverhaal. Een van die gepubliseerde verhale sal ook weer met die ondersteuning van kykNET vir die Silwerskermfees as kortfilm ontwikkel word.

“Die Woordfeeskortverhaalbundel se statuur het in die afgelope drie jaar tot dié van literêre instelling gegroei,” sê Saartjie Botha, direkteur van die US Woordfees. “Die hoeveelheid inskrywings groei jaarliks saam met die gehalte van die skryfwerk en die tematiese verskeidenheid in die verhale. Ons is opgewonde om te sien waarmee skrywers vir die 2019-bundel vorendag kom.”

Die skrywers wat in dié bundel opgeneem word, het in die verlede elkeen R4 000 vir hul verhale ontvang, maar danksy Du Toitskloof sal elkeen volgende jaar R5 000 in die sak steek.

“Sedert die verskyning van die eerste Woordfeesbundel in 2016 word van die beste kortverhale in Afrikaans op hierdie wyse gepubliseer,” sê die uitgewersredakteur en sameroeper van die kompetisie, Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh, wat sedert 2016 by dié projek betrokke is. “Die wedstryd het laas jaar gegroei tot ’n rekordgetal van 237 inskrywings, met stewige prysgeld sowel as ’n prestigeryke filmprys wat skrywers kan inpalm. As jy nog altyd jou hand aan ’n kortverhaal wou waag, is hierdie jou kans!”

Die 2018-wenner, Clari Niemand, se verhaal Non (kompos) mentis word in ’n kortfilm omskep wat by die 2018 Silwerskermfees vertoon sal word.

Oor Du Toitskloof Wyne se betrokkenheid sê Marius Louw, uitvoerende hoof, dat Du Toitskloof die jaarlikse Kortverhaalkompetisie as een van die kalenderjaar se hoogtepunte beskou: “Daar waar kreatiwiteit heers, wil ons graag betrokke bly, want só deel ons in die ontdekking van die skrywers se goud, skuur ons skouers met die kunste en blink ons saam agterna. Ons deelname as borg inspireer ons tot groter vindingrykheid in elke volgende avontuur wat ons aanpak.”

Skrywers wie se verhale in die bundel opgeneem gaan word, sal by die Woordfeesprogrambekendstelling in November 2018 bekend gemaak word. Die wenverhaal asook die verhaal wat vir ’n verwerking tot kortfilm gekies is, sal eers tydens die bekendstelling van die bundel, gedurende die Woordfees van 1-10 Maart 2019, aangekondig word.

Die sluitingsdatum vir inskrywings is 30 September 2018 om 16:00.

Diegene wat belangstel om meer oor die kompetisie te wete te kom of wat wil inskryf, kan gaan na www.woordfees.co.za en volg dan die skakels. E-pos met navrae kan ook gestuur word aan danie_marais@sun.ac.za – slegs skriftelike navrae sal beantwoord word. Die US Woordfees word van 1-10 Maart 2019 in Stellenbosch aangebied. Die feesprogram word in November bekend gemaak.

Shortlist for the 2018 Short Sharp Stories Awards announced

Via Short.Sharp.Stories

We are happy to announce the shortlist for the Short Sharp Stories Awards. This year’s theme is “Instant Exposure”. We received over 120 entries for this year’s anthology, and our judges selected the stories they felt spoke best to the brief. Congratulations to the writers, whose stories will be included in Instant Exposure, and who are shortlisted for this year’s awards.

Vamumusa Malusi Khumalo
Shubnum Khan
Femi Agunbiade
Christine Coates
Michael Yee
Chantelle Grey van Heerden
Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo
Donve Lee
Rochelle Mungar
Thandekhile Ntshangase
Arja Salafranca
Sam Murray
Ambre Nicolson
Martin Botha
Bernard du Plessis
Lynn Joffe
Paul Collings
Melissa Siebert
Ian Sutherland
Tiah Beautement

2018 Sunday Times Literary Awards winners announced

Johannesburg, 24 June 2018: The winners of the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards were announced at a gala dinner held at The Venue, Melrose Arch, on Saturday 23 June.

Bongani Ngqulunga received the Alan Paton award for non-fiction for his book, The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, while Harry Kalmer was named the recipient of the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his book, A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg. Both titles are published by Penguin Books.

The Sunday Times Literary Awards are considered the most prestigious literary accolade in South Africa.

“This year’s judging was tough but what was evident was the recognition of the art of writing. South Africa’s rich history and diverse stories are being rigorously explored, examined and celebrated,” says Jennifer Platt, Sunday Times Books Editor.

Now in its 29th year, the Alan Paton Award recognises exceptional non-fiction writing as displayed by Bongani Ngqulunga’s story The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme.

The Alan Paton judging panel consisted of Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron; journalist Paddi Clay; and award-winning writer, journalist and filmmaker, Sylvia Vollenhoven.

They said Ngqulunga’s book was “a revelatory, inspiring study of a man and a movement that reverberates right up to today. It is a scholarly, well-researched book that illuminates our flawed roots and our flawed nationhood, presented through the complex and mercurial character of Seme.”

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize panel was chaired by popular radio personality, Africa Melane, alongside Love Books owner Kate Rogan and award-winning writer Ken Barris.

“Johannesburg emerges as a fascinating beast of a city, and this is a novel way of celebrating it. The outstanding writing and innovative structure – along with memorable characters – make this an instant classic,” said the fiction prize panel of Harry Kalmer’s A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg.

Kalmer is the 18th recipient of the Sunday Times fiction prize, named for Barry Ronge, arts commentator and one of the founders of the Sunday Times Literary Awards.

Recipients of the 2018 Alan Paton Award and Barry Ronge Fiction Prize each receive R100 000.

Book details

"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