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How to cut your novel in half - Nnedi Okorafor describes the painful process of writing Who Fears Death

Nnedi Okorafor at the 2016 Open Book Festival
BintiLagoonWhat Sunny Saw in the FlamesThe Book of PhoenixChicken in the KitchenWho Fears DeathAkata Witch

 
Award-winning Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor was in Cape Town recently for the Open Book Festival, and chatted to filmmaker Wayne Thornley about writing in collaboration, the differences between writing for film and writing a novel, and her upcoming feature animation, Camel Racer.

Okorafor won the movie deal, along with her collaborator, Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu, in a competition held by Triggerfish Animation Studios, established with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Walt Disney Company.

During the conversation, Thornley said that in filmmaking often you experience “seismic events” where you realise you need to dump six months of work.

“If we’re serious about quality, if we’re serious about authenticity, if we’re serious about reaching a wider audience, if we’re serious about story being king,” Thornley said, “if we do go down the wrong alleyway and realise it, we have to have the courage to back out.”

In reply, Okorafor said she has never had to take something she has written and throw the whole thing away, but she did have to go through the painful process of cutting one of her novels by half – after it was finished.

How to cut your novel in half

Who Fears Death was published in 2010, and was Okorafor’s first adult novel. It won the 2011 World Fantasy Award – with Okorafor becoming the first black person to win the award since its inception in 1975 – and the 2010 Carl Brandon Kindred Award “for an outstanding work of speculative fiction dealing with race and ethnicity”. The prequel, The Book of Phoenix, was published last year, and was a top seller at Open Book.

But it didn’t come Who Fears Death didn’t come into the world without a fight.

Who Fears Death started off at over 700 pages, a Book 1 and a Book 2, and I showed it to my agent and he was like, oh this is wonderful, it’s going to win all these awards, but you need to shrink it down a lot, because this is African science fiction and it’s new, and nobody does Book 1 and 2 – what is that, a duology?

So he said, keep the same plot, keep the same everything, but get it down from over 700 pages to 300. And I did it! It took me two years, but I did it.

Okorafor said she used a method taught to her by her agent, who also happens to write books on writing.

I took the manuscript and looked at every single word and took out every single word that didn’t need to be there,” she said. “And then I combined the ‘weak phrases’ into ‘strong words’, so instead of saying ‘very big’, you say ‘huge’.

So I took the 700 pages, scattered them around, mixed them all up, and then took each page out of context and went through the whole thing. It took years, but I got it down to 389 pages, and that became Who Fears Death. Even though it had the same story, it was a completely different book.

Okorafor added that the process of making Camel Racer is very different – starting with her collaboration with Kahiu.

“With Wanuri and I, we first sit down and talk extensively about the idea and have long, long conversations. And then one of us will say, okay I’m going to write this thing, whether it’s a treatment or a piece of script, or whatever. And they write a first draft. And once that’s done and nice and typo free, they hand it over to the other person, who then has complete, open, full rein to do whatever they want with it. Then they hand it back, and we go back and forth like that. The end product is so hybrid we can’t tell which thing she wrote and which thing I wrote. It’s one thing. And it’s something that I would never have written by myself.

“Importantly, the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, and that’s another big change that I have really come to enjoy. That I can give something that I’ve just freshly written to someone else and not have to make that thing perfect. When I’m writing a novel I feel like I can’t show something to someone else unless it’s very much together. But when you’re collaborating it’s like you’re one brain.

It does have to do with chemistry. They way we work together, the honesty, and nine times out of 10 we are in complete agreement. It’s uncanny.

From there, Okorafor and Kahiu work with Thornley and three or four other people from the Triggerfish team on the more technical aspects of the project.

“During those meetings we’ll take the whole film and break it down into narrative aspects. That’s something I have never done with a novel and it was a part that was difficult for me. I’ve learned a lot. There are times when it feels like we are taking a living creature and dissecting it into pieces until it dies. But when we get to the end of the process, I see what they are trying to get me to see. And when we put it back together, it’s always better. It’s been an eye-opening experience, but it’s painful. But sometimes a little pain is necessary.

The soul of Camel Racer has stayed the same, but it keeps changing shape. The storyteller in me finds that fun, because it’s still storytelling, it’s just finding a way to tell the story in a different way.

 
Related stories:

Image: Retha Ferguson

Book details

Read an excerpt from the latest edition of Chimurenga's Chronic - The Corpse Exhibition and older graphic stories

 
Alert! The latest edition of Chimurenga’s Chronic is now available – both in print and online – and they have kindly shared an excerpt with Books LIVE.

The pan-African quarterly gazette’s new issue is entitled “The Corpse Exhibition and older graphic stories” and explores ideas around African Science Fiction – specifically its ability to tell a story – and graphic storytelling.

“The Corpse Exhibition” includes contributions from authors such as Hussein Nassir Sallih, London Kamwendo, Nikhil Singh, Breeze Yoko, Native Maqari, Catherine Anyango, Thenjiwe Nkosi, Loyiso Mkize, Graeme Arendse, Carsten Höller, Moses März, Mac McGill, Francis Burger, and more.

The Palm-Wine DrinkardSearch Sweet CountryMurambiKwezi

The title story is Sallih’s adaptation of Hassan Blasim’s “Corpse Exhibition” which explores the concept of terrorism in a world “dominated by capital flows”.

Read the Introduction:

The latest issue of Chimurenga’s pan-African quarterly gazette, the Chronic, explores ideas around mythscience, science fiction and graphic storytelling. Like previous editions of the Chronic, this edition is borne out of an urgent need to write our world differently – beyond the dogma of growth and development and the endless stream of future projections released by organisations like the IMF and the World Bank.

In opposition to the idea of the future as progress – a linear march through time – we propose a sense of time is innately human: “it’s time” when everyone gets there.

Science fiction on the continent is always said to be nascent, always on the cusp of emerging. A fact that has little to do with literature produced by writers from the continent and more to do with the bureaucratisation of African literature as a discipline of study.

Admittedly, “African science fiction” is a much contested term and our interest is not in questions around the genre – what African science fiction may or may not be – but in its story telling capacity: its radical ability to imagine new futures and new pasts in the here and now.

Moreover, Africa has a long history of producing comics that have pushed the boundaries of time and space and rewired seemingly redundant technology into new forms, from popular photo comics such as African Film produced by Drum in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana through the 70s and 80s to guerrilla publishing initiatives such as Kinshasa’s Mfumu’Eto and Zebulon Dread’s Hei Voetsek in Cape Town that flourished in the 1990s.

Drawing on this legacy we invited artists to produce graphic adaptations of stories that speak of everyday complexities in the world in which we live, in which we imagine we will live and in which we want to live.

This issue includes the graphic story “Avions de Nuit” by Pumle April. In an article for Chronic, April explains the meaning and symbolism behind the phrase “Avions de Nuit”:

Read the article:

In the Cameroonian imaginary “Avions de nuit” (night planes) are tiny vessels fuelled by the blood of their cargo, that make nightly flights across the Atlantic (or to neighbouring oil economies like Chad, Gabon or Equatorial Guinea – nuff people in Nigeria) carrying passages into slavery. According to news reports they could be as small as an empty tin of sardines or even a box of matches – yet despite their size any one of these planes can carry as many as twenty jumbies and fly out to great distances, with a common goal – to suck dry human beings.

The shell-body that remains would be asked: “who sold you?”

In South Africa thikholoshe extract the souls of innocent victims and transport them to the mythical kingdom of Gwadana, where they are harnessed to ride baboons through the night skies as Isisthunzela, doing the bidding of their masters.

Read an extract from “Avions de Nuit”:

Avions de Nuit by Books LIVE on Scribd

Book details

Hamba Sugar Daddy, the new novel from by Nape 'a Motana

Young girls warned to stay away from sugar daddies …

- Karabo Ngoepe, The Sowetan

Hamba Sugar DaddyJacana Media is proud to present Hamba Sugar Daddy, the new novel by Nape ‘a Motana, author of the bestselling Fanie Fourie’s Lobola:

They have lost their youth, but gained enough wealth to buy the company of many young “cherries”: that is the story behind the life of a sugar daddy.

Meet Rolivhowa Ramabulana, a grade 12 pupil whose financial difficulties are exploited and influenced by Kedibone Mahlope and her group of chomies into being a sugar baby. Rolivhowa’s whole lifestyle changes after meeting Bigvy Masemola, the sugar daddy; she no longer eats the same food as she had like other financially challenged students and is now able to afford expensive clothing and carry the latest costly phone. Bigvy has introduced her to a new lifestyle but at what cost?

While sugar daddies are not a new phenomenon, their latest incarnation could be described as a symptom of the “new” post-1994 South Africa with its rampant consumerism and glittering shopping malls, prevalent enough in South Africa for it to have created an acceptable subculture. The unstoppable rise of social media and easier internet access has led to the creation of websites that offer a “hook up” and the engagement in transactional sex. Young women can now meet and hook up with various sugar daddies who will provide the lifestyle they desire at the click of a button.

There is more temptation for those looking for financial and material support in a climate of growing poverty.

Back in the family home, parents who struggle to put one meal a day on the table for their family don’t ask questions about where the money comes from. Rolivhowa’s mother accepts the relationship since Bigvy supports them financially.

Rejecting to heed the warnings of Khomisa Maluleka, a fellow student and born-again Christian, about her “sinful ways”, she continues her relationship with Bigvy. Only later does she begin to feel the bitter aftertaste of a sweet life and in her devastation of discovering her HIV status, Khomisa becomes a pillar of support.

About the author

Nape ‘a Motana is a novelist and playwright who has worked as a copywriter, social worker and journalist. He’s authored Fanie Fourie’s Lobola and a prize-winning play titled The Honeymoon. He lives with his wife and four children in Pretoria.

Book details

Book Launch: Amagama Enkululeko! Words for freedom: Writing life under Apartheid by Equal Education

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Please join us to launch this collection of “words for freedom”, edited by Equal Education.

Panelists Tshepo Motsepe (General Secretary of Equal Education), Dinga Sikwebu (Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education and United Front), Zfikile Mbewu (Equaliser) and Daniel Sher (Researcher/ Co-Editor of Amagama Enkululeko!) will read and reflect on the book.

Amagama Unkululeko! is a collection of fiction, poetry, narrative journalism and extracts from novels and memoirs which frames local literature as a lens through which to engage with South Africa’s past.

Event Details

  • Date: 10 August 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Book Lounge , cnr Buitenkant and Roeland Streets Cape Town
  • Refreshments
  • RSVP: booklounge@gmail.com

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

Book Bites: 17 July 2016

It's Okay to LaughIt’s Okay To Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)
Nora McInerny Purmont (Little Brown)
Book real
****
20-something Nora’s husband Aaron is diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. So they decide to live their best lives while he is still breathing, as in watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer re-runs and retell each other all their stories. But then he dies, her father dies and she has a miscarriage – all in a matter of weeks. However, this is not a misery memoir, it’s life affirming, gentle, warm and witty. As Lena Dunham says about the book: it’ll make you laugh and cry too. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Mothering SundayMothering Sunday
Graham Swift (Simon & Schuster)
Book buff
****
This enchanting novella pivots on the formative experiences of 22-year-old Jane Fairchild, a young domestic servant in 1920s England. It tells of her secret affair with the soon-to-be-married heir to the Upleigh estate, of the stark differences and difficulties of class divides and of how she eventually manages to free herself from these constraints to become a novelist. By turns tragic, erotic and whimsical, it enlightens in so many ways, evoking a certain post-war era with ease. – Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin

Zero GZero-G
Rob Boffard (Orbit)
Book fiend
***
Presented in breathless chapters so short they’d make James Patterson smile, Boffard’s second-in-a-trilogy space thriller Zero-G doesn’t let up once in its 450 pages. His protagonist, Riley Hale, is a cop on a giant space station, home to what remains of Earth’s population after a nuclear apocalypse. She’s already saved the station once (in Tracer) and she must do so again amid threats including terrorists, a contagious disease and a psychopathic doctor. The unceasing action doesn’t give the characters much space to be developed, but Zero-G is an exhilarating read that will encourage readers to head back to bookstores for the follow-up, Impact. – Bruce Dennill @BroosDennill

SnitchSnitch
Edyth Bulbring (Tafelberg)
Book Monster
****
I wish Edyth Bulbring had been writing when I was young, but being a good 40 years older than her target market has not prevented me from enjoying her books. Snitch takes us into an environment at which Bulbring excels, the South African high school – that hive of teenagers, teachers and trouble. Ben Smith, 13, illustrates the 18 rules of surviving school, and suffers the dire consequences of breaking rule No 15: Never Tell Your Mom Stuff. – Aubrey Paton

Book details