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Right! That's a wrap of our #ManBooker2014 coverage. Congratulations to Richard Flanagan

Ebooks Won't Survive the Apocalypse: The Launch of Edyth Bulbring's Dystopian YA Novel The Mark

Launch of The Mark

The MarkEdyth Bulbring’s dystopian Young Adult novel The Mark was launched recently at Love Books in Melville.

Love Books owner Kate Rogan welcomed Bulbring, saying that the event was the first YA launch Love Books had ever hosted. “There are very few people who are filling the gap in the market for Young Adult fiction,” Rogan said, “but Tafelberg is one of the few that does publish into that market, and it’s great to see local stuff in that market.”

Bulbring chatted to Sunday Times books editor Ben Williams about cynicism in modern Young Adult fiction, whether ebooks will survive the apocalypse, and the sense of “moral outrage” that appeals to readers of dystopian fiction.

Williams opened the conversation by asking Bulbring to describe the world of Mangeria, the futuristic city where her seventh novel is set.

“I suppose it’s like all dystopian books,” Bulbring said. “It’s harsh, there’s no water, the sun is hot. I looked at a few things. One was food. I get really uptight about those people, like Monsanto, that make plants and they grow, but you can never grow them again from the seeds, to force people to keep on buying the seeds. So food was one of the aspects I concentrated on. Weather was another thing. I thought the sun would be the thing that would be the dominant kind of weather that you would experience if you were living in a post-apocalyptic environment. So it’s very hot, there’s no food – unless you eat stuff coming out of the laboratory – nothing survived.”

The Mark references a lot of other novels, including The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. Bulbring says because the world of The Mark was so empty, she had to rely on the imaginary universes of other books to make sense of it.

“When I was writing the book it was very difficult for me to make comparisons, because there were so few comparisons that the heroine, Ettie, could ever make. Because it’s so bleak, there’s nothing. There’s sun, there’s soil, there’s nothing. She doesn’t know animals; she doesn’t know dogs, so she would never say ‘I feel as hungry as a dog’, or ‘as lazy as a dog’, or ‘as furry as a cat’. Or ‘this is as sweet as mango’, or ‘this is as soft as silk’. She doesn’t know those references. The only references she has are from books. And she learns to read from someone who teaches her, and her only references are to children’s stories and books.”

Williams observed: “The reason that adults read the Sunday Times is the same reason that young adults read post-apocalyptic fiction, and that is because they crave a sense of moral outrage. There’s a lot of injustice in The Mark.”

“The society if very stratified,” Bulbring agreed. “For example, once you turn 15 your assigned a role, a job. And with some of those jobs comes a lifespan of just seven years. I think that’s similar to a lot of countries; you may not be assigned a job, but you really don’t have a lot of choice.”

Williams turned the conversation to Bulbring’s theories about the future: “Books survive the apocalypse. The actual things made of trees, they make it into the next world. But something that doesn’t is ebooks. From the book: ‘People who know say in the olden days people used to read books on machines, but everything went meltdown. The virus ate the books on the machines.’

“So you believe books might outlast ebooks … I think you might be right about that,” Williams said.

In response to a question from the audience about the differences between modern YA heroes and classic heroes, Bulbring said she thinks there is much more cynicism nowadays, observing that the youth tend to believe that “organised rebellion just results in the same old power structures.” In The Mark, Ettie chooses not to join the rebels, despite almost being the catalyst for the rebellion: “She believes that the answer is to have integrity in your own life, and make changes to the people you touch. She’s just trying to make a difference where she can.”

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Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


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Nóg ’n nominasie vir Jaco Jacobs

Oor ’n motorfiets, ’n zombiefliek en lang getalle wat deur elf gedeel kan wordNóg een van Jaco Jacobs se boeke is vir ‘n prys genomineer: Oor ‘n motorfiets, ‘n zombiefliek en lang getalle wat deur elf gedeel kan word ding mee om die R100 000 kontantprys in die filmafdeling van vanjaar se kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse.

Dit is die eerste jaar wat hierdie prys aangebied word en Jacobs se gewilde boek is die enigste jeugverhaal op enige van die kortlyste; die res is almal volwasse tekste.

Die wenners word op Vrydagmiddag, 21 November 2014 by ’n geselligheid in Kaapstad aangekondig.


kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse 2014 kortlys aanggekondig met onder meer Dominique Botha, Karel Schoeman en Jaco Jacobs

Rapport en kykNET het in April ‘n groot aankondiging gemaak: die totstandkoming van ‘n nuwe literêre toekenning vir Afrikaanse boeke, die kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse. “Drie kategorieë in Afrikaans sal bekroon word vir die beste: volwasse roman (R200 000); niefiksie-boek (R200 000); roman of niefiksie-boek met die meeste rolprentpotensiaal (R100 000),” het Rapport berig.

Groot herrie het vroeër vanjaar geheers na die aankondiging dat die gesogte M-Net-pryse afgeskaf sal word, ‘n toekenningsgeleentheid wat erkenning aan inheemse tale soos Ndebele en Setswana gebied het. Hierdie ‘nuwe’ prys, wat poog om die gaping te vul, bied tog opwinding in die Afrikaanse boekwêreld, met die rolprentpotensiaal-kategorie wat veral belofte inhou.


Die kortlys is pas aangekondig en sluit min verrassings in. Dominique Botha het in 2014 so te sê op die pryspodium geboer en ding nou teen Eben Venter en Etienne van Heerden mee om dalk nog ‘n prys op haar kerfstok te voeg: Die 2014 kykNET-Rapport Boekprys vir Fiksie. Albert Grundlingh en Bill Nasson; Karel Schoeman en Dana Snyman is onderskeidelik genomineer vir die 2014 kykNET-Rapport Boekprys vir Nie-Fiksie terwyl Jaco Jacobs, Marlize Hobbs en Zirk van den Berg sal moet wag tot November om te hoor aan wie die R100 000 kykNET-Rapport Boekprys vir die boek met die grootste rolprentpotensiaal gaan.

Hier volg die persverklaring:

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Die kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse het ten doel om leeslus aan te wakker deur groter erkenning en blootstelling te gee aan interessante en innoverende fiksie en feite in Afrikaans.

In die eerste bestaansjaar van die prys is 54 inskrywings ontvang. Die keurders was verras deur romans wat die verbeelding aanvuur, wat in tema die nuwe aandurf en in taalgebruik die reikwydte van Afrikaans vergroot. Die verdieping en verbreding van ons begrip van die wêreld by die niefiksie-inskrywings het ook waardering ontlok.

Die wenners van die eerste kykNET-Rapport Boekpryse vir fiksie en niefiksie ontvang elk R200 000 en die wenner van die Filmprys R100 000.

Die kortlys vir 2014 lyk soos volg:

ValsrivierKlimtolWolf, Wolf



Die Oorlog Kom Huis ToeHere en boereOnder die radar



Oor 'n motorfiets, 'n zombiefliek en lang getalle wat deur elf gedeel kan wordScore my 'n gwai’n Ander mens



Die wenners word op Vrydagmiddag, 21 November 2014 by ’n geselligheid in Kaapstad aangekondig.


Jerusha Behari Reviews Devilskein and Dearlove by Alex Smith

Devilskein and DearloveVerdict: carrot

The ingredients for Devilskein and Dearlove are: Alice in Wonderland-ish doors to magical worlds; the orphaned girl and forbidden garden in The Secret Garden; and a talking cricket who is the “conscience” a la Pinocchio, with a generous measure of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

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Monique Snyman Reviews Dawn’s Bright Talons by Nerine Dorman

Dawn’s Bright TalonsVerdict: carrot

I love Nerine Dorman‘s books, not only because she has the ability to draw the reader into her stories with wonderful plots, interesting characters, and exquisite prose, but because she’s incredibly creative. Dawn’s Bright Talons is yet another testament to her talent as an author. The descriptions don’t drag on endlessly, the imagery is beautiful, the characters are appealing – and oddly real – while the dialogue keeps you wanting more. Although, at times I felt a bit out of my depth, seeing as gothic novels isn’t my forte per se, I must say that as far as vampire novels are concerned I quite enjoyed Dorman’s take on the mythology.

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Porcupine Press presented over the weekend of 4/5 October 2014 a workshop entitled Tricks of the Trade for effective self-publishing. Porcupine staff and an array of guest speakers dealt with every aspect of self-publishing from writing and editing to production, marketing and distribution. An entire morning was devoted to digital publishing.


‘What an absolutely inspiring and informative experience!,’ wrote one participant on the assessment forms provided. ‘I’ve enjoyed every minute and learnt so much.’


Other participants were equally enthusiastic. ‘Great content, presenters wonderful; nice mix of info, and the price was reasonable.’ ‘The knowledge shared was valuable; walked away with so much I don’t know.’ ‘The discussions were very informative.’ And ‘We need more of such seminars.’


There were criticisms and suggestions as well. The documentation taken away by participants was often considered insufficient. Might it be possible to reduce costs, someone asked? Some of the PowerPoint slides required editing – they were too detailed. And one delegate didn’t much like the catering arrangements.


‘There’s a growing conviction that an increasing responsibility for the publishing of literature in South Africa is shifting onto the shoulders of independent authors and publishers,’ said Porcupine’s Clare-Rose Julius, organiser of the event. ‘Because of this conviction, our concern is for higher quality and improved distribution opportunities for self-published work.’


More workshops are being planned for the future. When asked if they would like to be kept informed of these, participants were unanimous: Yes, please! If you would like to be placed on Porcupine’s workshop mailing list, please let Charle know on