Umuzi and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to the launch of Mongrel: Essays by William Dicey.
From a carcass competition in the Karoo to a shambolic murder trial in Cape Town, Dicey’s essays freewheel across an open terrain of interests. He is curious and inventive, weaving strands of essay, journalism, fiction and self-reportage into something uniquely his own.
Dicey will be chatting to bestselling author Mike Nicol (Power Play) on Wednesday, 9 March at 5:30 for 6 PM. Snacks and wine will be served.
See you there!
Dicey is what I look for in a writer: he has something to say and he puts it across with skill, intelligence and wit. – Ivan Vladislavić
- Date: Wednesday, 9 March 2016
- Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
- Venue: The Book Lounge
71 Roeland Street
Cape Town City Centre | Map
- Interviewer: Mike Nicol
- Refreshments will be served
- RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org, 021 462 2425
In April 2011, the sleepy goldmining town of Welkom was deeply shocked when the dismembered, decapitated body of Michael van Eck was discovered buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of the local cemetery. Was this a muti murder, the work of a deranged madman or part of a satanic ritual?
For the investigators and psychologists involved, the mystery only deepened when a seemingly unlikely arrest was made: a soft-spoken girl next door and her intelligent, well-mannered fiancé.
This gruesome true story is told in Grave Murder: The Story Behind the Brutal Welkom Killing by Jana van der Merwe, a gripping work of non-fiction published by Zebra Press last year.
In a third excerpt shared by the publishers, read about the eerie moment in which Van Eck’s body parts are discovered in the “soft-spoken girl-next-door”‘s fridge and the couple’s reaction to their arrest:
* * * * * *
At the flat’s entrance, Chané unlocked another steel gate, which led into their semi-detached garden flat, situated to the right of a larger house. On the windows were white burglar bars.
Once inside the flat, Nel carefully observed her surroundings. It looked like the messy living space of a rebellious teenager. At first glance, there did not seem anything disconcerting about the living room’s contents. There were a beige couch and a single bed, whose baby-blue mattress was covered only with a tucked-in winter blanket. Ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts and two red cigarette lighters were on the armrest of the couch, while several items of clothing, including a pair of stonewashed blue jeans, and a yellow laundry basket filled to the brim were on the bed.
Against the wall was a small table with a desktop computer and a cabinet housing an old box TV set. On the floor was a small, unplugged heater, a pair of black-and-white lace-up long-top sneakers, a book by Stephen King, a black backpack decorated with white skulls with items of clothing pouring out of it, as well as a hardcover notebook, cherry LipIce and a pen.
Nel took a moment to examine the paintings that took up much of the wall space. The images resembled Chané quite strikingly: a series of large, alien-like self-portraits, the faces all in shades of bright, screaming yellow, tinted with luminous green and black shadows, the teeth rotten and X-raylike, the eyes dark wells of sadness.
In the small kitchen, Nel stood by as Chané voluntarily walked to the white, medium-sized fridge. On the table top next to it were some half-full bottles of liquor: Red Square and some peach schnapps. Stuck to a magnet on the fridge was a sheet of paper that read:
Angels with needles poke through our eyes and let the ugly light of the
world in and we were no longer blind.
Below it was another piece of paper, also handwritten in ink, of quantum physics calculations and formulas.
Chané casually opened the door to the smaller freezer compartment at the top of the fridge. A pack of Country Crop mixed vegetables was on the top shelf. On the middle shelf were three polystyrene containers with minced meat covered in cling wrap.
Nel and Steyn watched as Chané carefully reached inside and removed a flattened white plastic grocery bag, squeezed in between a small packet of frozen garden peas and a packet of sweetcorn, from the bottom shelf.
With great care, she put the plastic bag on the kitchen counter and removed the contents, revealing what looked like a flat pizza base. Nel did not even wince as she looked at what was, in fact, a macabre mask of Michael van Eck’s face.
Where the eyes once were, there were now only holes, absurdly framed by the young man’s dense, dark-brown eyebrows. His nose was still perfectly intact, and his cheeks still bore a slight, rough stubble. The mouth was sewn shut. A cut ran from the right corner of his mouth and another from the left, not more than three to four centimetres respectively. These cuts had also been stitched closed. ‘His face,’ Chané said, as if she were talking about a bag of tomatoes or an arbitrary grocery item. This was her trophy, Nel thought. She was showing off her work of art.
‘His eyes and ears,’ she continued, while removing small plastic medicine canisters from the fridge. Two white floating jellies in salt water were all that remained of his eyes. In another canister were Michael’s ears, cut off with surgical precision and preserved for who knows what.
‘You are sick,’ was all Nel could get out.
Steyn felt as if she was being pushed out of the room. She sensed a dark force she did not understand. Void of emotion, Nel took out the metal handcuffs. ‘You are under arrest for the murder of Michael van Eck.’
She read Chané her rights. They arrested Maartens, too. The couple stood waiting as Steyn called Chané’s father.
Van Zyl and Krügel then entered the flat. Van Zyl felt as if he was being smothered, as if the devil itself had wrapped its tail around his neck. He saw the mask. Chané’s eyes followed him from every corner of the flat.
Nel felt oddly calm as she asked Chané where Michael’s possessions were. Chané pointed to a jar on top of the fridge, next to a nasal spray. In it were some hundred-rand notes and some silver and copper coins. It was the money Michael had had in his wallet; the money he had drawn from his first pay cheque to pay his parents back for the car they had helped him buy; the money Henriëtte had said he must keep and use for petrol and pocket money; the money he was supposedly going to use to take a girl to the movies on the night of his death.
‘We used some of it already,’ the girl shrugged.
Stuck to the jar, handwritten in black Koki pen, engulfed in handdrawn red flames, was a label that read: ‘The spawn of our prostitution.’
Maartens mentioned that they planned to use some of this money to buy some spades for ‘the next time’. ‘It’s not easy to dig a hole with a soup spoon, you know,’ he said matter-of-factly.
For a while no one said a word.
Penguin Random House invites you to join them for the launch of How to Make Your Point Without PowerPoint by Douglas Kruger.
The art of presenting needs a serious shake-up. Presenters are constantly on the lookout for fresh ideas to get their message across, but mistakenly believe PowerPoint is the right medium to do so. Kruger’s latest book teaches readers 50 ways to present more effectively and leave lasting impressions.
The launch takes place on Monday, 15 February at 8 for 8:30 AM at The Wanderers Club in Joburg. Coffee and light snacks will be served.
See you there!
Penguin Random House South Africa invites you to the launch of The Peculiars by Jen Thorpe.
Set in a Cape Town as peculiar as its characters, The Peculiars is Thorpe’s heart-warming and humorous debut.
A book that’s easy to read and love.
- Paige Nick
The launch will take place on Wednesday, 24 February at The Book Lounge in Cape Town, and Thorpe will be in conversation with Jennifer Crocker.
Don’t miss it!
- Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2016
- Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
- Venue: The Book Lounge
71 Roeland St
Cape Town | Map
- Interviewer: Jennifer Crocker
- Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
- RSVP: The Book Lounge, email@example.com, 021 462 2425
How is the online world depriving us of great storytelling? Do you think we can’t find good stories online? Why is truth so important in good storytelling? Should brands apply the same principles to their storytelling?
At the 2015 Digital Edge Live conference, African adverising mouthpiece Adlip sat down with writer Rahla Xenopoulos to ask these important questions.
“I think, as human beings, we are losing one another. We’re losing the connection that we need to have with one another to find great stories,” Xenopoulos says.
“I think you find the great stories in the eye contact you get with the man who sells homeless talk on the side of the road; you find the great stories in the coincidental account you have with the woman who packs your groceries at Pick n Pay.
“It’s unexpected meetings, where you have communication, where you find unexpected great stories.”
However, she is not dismissive of all time spent online. The author goes on to say that she believes there are aspects of great stories online, vignettes even, but warns that real inspiration can only really be found “with one another”.
Xenopoulos’s latest book, Tribe, was published by Umuzi last year. In this video, she explains how the book highlights the negative side of our ever-expanding digital addiction and how it offers a possible solution to the problem.
“We need to disconnect in order to be human, and in order to connect. The book I brought out now is very much about a group of people who are trying to connect in a disconnected world and they know that they have to plug out to in order to plug in with one another.”
Watch the video:
Chad le Clos gave a strong indication on Sunday as to what event he may compete in at the Rio Olympics in August – outside of his two specialist butterfly races.
The double medallist from London 2012 is keeping his racing schedule under wraps‚ but he achieved an Olympic qualifying time in the 200m freestyle in the second leg of the SA grand prix swimming series in Durban on Sunday afternoon.
He won the race in 1 min 47.54 sec‚ almost half a second inside the criterion he will need to repeat in the same Kings Park pool in April at the six-day SA championships‚ which will serve as the Olympic trials.
Le Clos‚ who won the 200m fly gold and 100m fly silver at the last Games‚ competed in the 200m freestyle at the 2015 world championships‚ finishing sixth and more than a second off the podium.
But there is a possibility that he might also try the 100m freestyle or the 200m individual medley‚ where he made the Olympic final four years ago.
Coach Graham Hill has said Le Clos will enter more than the two butterfly races at the Rio Games‚ but he doesn’t want to say which – or even how many. Right now‚ the 200m freestyle looks like a good bet.
Le Clos and his Seagulls club training partner Myles Brown were the only swimmers to achieve qualifying times at the three-day gala‚ which is still early in the season. Le Clos also did it in the 200m fly on Saturday and Brown in the 400m freestyle on the opening day.
Not even Cameron van der Burgh‚ the reigning 100m breaststroke Olympic champion‚ managed it in his main event on Sunday‚ clocking 1:01.48. But that’s no train smash for the veteran swimmer who only begins to start lifting his game around April.
Pundits are predicting a small SA swimming team at the Games‚ with possibly fewer than 10 members qualifying in individual events. There is also a strong possibility that there might be no women in the team‚ which would be a first since 2004. Swimmers at the Durban gala this weekend did nothing to dispel these fears‚ but it’s still early days.
Source: TMG Digital
At the 2012 Olympics Le Clos, then 20, astounded the world by achieving the “unbelievable”: he beat Michael Phelps, his childhood hero and the world’s number one swimmer, in the 200 metres butterfly final.
You can re-live that incredible moment in his autobiography:
The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga has received a lot of well-deserved attention since it was published by Umuzi in October 2014.
United States publisher Two Dollar Radio acquired the rights to publish The Reactive in North America – including film rights – while Verlag das Wunderhorn will publish the novel in Germany.
The latest spotlight on this gripping and truly South African debut novel comes from quarterly European arts journal The White Review.
The exclusive excerpt forms part of their February edition and gives readers another taste of this unforgettable story of hope and redemption.
Read the excerpt:
My back cramps on the toilet bowl. I stretch it. Then I take two more painkillers and look down at the space between my legs. In the dim light, my phone blinks blue before going off again, indicating the arrival of a new message.
I hear my colleague Dean stumble into the next stall. His knees drop on the floor and he starts to heave, the room filling up with the smell of vomit. Without fail, Dean brings a hangover to work with him every Sunday. Saturday nights, he plays drums for the house band at The Purple Turtle, a popular punk bar on Long Street. The owner, a Rastafarian named Levi, keeps half the earnings the bands bring him at the door. He compensates for this by keeping a bar tab open for the performers when they finish a set. I stand on the toilet seat and give Dean the rest of my painkillers. Then I sit back down and press a button to take my phone off standby.
In a city that has lost its shimmer, Lindanathi and his two friends Ruan and Cecelia sell illegal pharmaceuticals while chasing their next high.
Lindanathi, deeply troubled by his hand in his brother’s death, has turned his back on his family, until a message from home reminds him of a promise he made years before.
When a puzzling masked man enters their lives, Lindanathi is faced with a decision: continue his life in Cape Town, or return to his family and to all he has left behind.
Rendered in lyrical, bright prose and set in a not-so-new South Africa, The Reactive is a poignant, life-affirming story about secrets, memory, chemical abuse and family, and the redemption that comes from facing what haunts us most.
African Flavour Books and Umuzi invite you to the launch of Little Suns, the latest novel from the legendary Zakes Mda.
The event will take place on Friday, 12 February, at African Flavour Books in Vanderbijlpark. It’s an amazing bookshop, and well worth a visit if you haven’t made it there yet.
Mda will be in conversation with Morakabe Raks Seakhoa.
See you there!
Umuzi is delighted to present Fynbos Fairies, with poems by Antjie Krog and illustrations by Fiona Moodie:
It is for its fynbos – fine-leaved, shrub-like vegetation – that the southwestern and southern Cape has been named one of the world’s six plant kingdoms: the Cape Floral Kingdom. At less than 90 000 square kilometres, it is the smallest floral kingdom on earth. Yet it is home to 8 600 plant species, some 5 000 of which occur nowhere else in the world.
Fynbos is a mixture of four plant types: protea shrubs, heath-like ericas, reed-like restios and different bulbous plants. The Cape Floral Kingdom contains 69 of the world’s 112 proteas, 526 of its 740 ericas and, among bulbous plants, 96 of the world’s 160 gladiolus species. Table Mountain alone boasts almost 1 500 fynbos species.
With Fynbos Fairies Krog and Moodie, both of whom regularly walk on the slopes of Table Mountain, pay homage to one of the natural wonders of the world. Inspired by Cicely Mary Barker’s A World of Flower Fairies, Krog began the process by writing poems that each featured a plant and at least one imaginary little being.
Moodie meticulously researched the features of each plant, insect and little animal depicted in these pages. The fairies and other imaginary beings in these pages are her own creations, but the flowers and creatures she copied from nature.
Also available in Afrikaans as Fynbosfeetjies
About the authors
Antjie Krog, one of the country’s most prominent poets, made her debut while still in high school. Since then, she has published 11 volumes of poetry, two of them collections of children’s verse: Mankepank en ander monsters and Voëls van anderste vere.
She is the author of the acclaimed Country of My Skull, as well as A Change of Tongue, which appeared in Afrikaans as ’n Ander tongval, and Begging to Be Black. She has also published a novela, a play and three poetry collections in English.
Her work has been translated into Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Serbian, Spanish and Swedish. She holds four honorary doctorates and has been awarded the Eugène Marais Prize, the Rapport Prize, the Hertzog Prize, the rau Prize, the Elisabeth Eybers Prize, an ATKV prize and an award for excellence in translation from the South African Translators’ Institute.
She and her husband, John Samuel, live in Cape Town, where she is Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape.
Fiona Moodie has traveled widely and lived in various European countries before returning with her husband and twin daughters to settle in Cape Town in 1992. Fynbos Fairies is one of 15 children’s books she has illustrated since 1979, when Bohem Press in Zurich published Benjamin Rocking Horse. She has also written the text for all but six of these books.
Her children’s books have apeared in numerous countries, among them China, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and, of course, South Africa – and in many languages. In 1996, Nabulela, her eighth book, was published locally in seven languages.
Her illustrations have been shown at major venues, including: Galerie MAAG – Zurich; International Youth Library – Munich; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art – New York; Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativos – Madrid; Habashi Museum of Art – Tokyo; Centro Culturale di Esposizione – Venice; Bibliothéque Mèjanes – Aix-en-Provence; and Centre Georges Pompidou – Paris.
In 2000 she received the SAPPI Prize for Atlantis Rises and in 2010 the MER Prize for best illustrated book. She was awarded the UNICEF South African Early Childhood Development Award for Best Author in 2015, and in the same year received the Media24 prize for best illustrated children’s book of 2014.
Penguin is proud to present The Peculiars, the debut novel by Jen Thorpe:
Phobias abound at the Centre for Improved Living, where Nazma goes for help. She’s crazy about baking and desperately wants to become a pastry chef, but her fear of driving keeps her stuck working in a train-station kiosk, where she sells stale food to commuters while dreaming of butter croissants and fresh strudel.
The Centre is also a lifeline for Sam, who is scared to death of being robbed and spends his days in his pyjamas in front of his computer, his house alarm always armed.
Like the rest of the patients, Nazma and Sam want to face their fears, but will four weeks at the Centre be enough to change their lives? And will the two allow their budding romance to bloom without letting their phobias get in the way?
Meanwhile, the Centre risks losing its funding, a fear that Ruby, the Centre’s eccentric director, must face while she tries to manage the patients’ fears.
Set in a Cape Town as peculiar as its characters, The Peculiars is Jen Thorpe’s heart-warming and humorous debut.
Introduction by the author:
I began The Peculiars in 2011, inspired by the NGOs I had worked with in the past and their incredible resilience and usefulness in South Africa.
At the time I was experiencing a driving phobia, and was interested to examine this type of fear could be dealt with on an individual and group level. I did a lot of research into the psychological and physical aspects of phobias, and also drew on my own experience.
I find Cape Town to be such a bipolar city at times – extreme wealth and poverty live alongside one another, and people are afraid of so much. At the same time, it’s possible to draw hope and healing from ordinary people, and I think that is what I wanted to explore with my book.
About the author:
Jen Thorpe is writer and researcher with an interest in women’s rights. She writes for a number of online and print publications. She founded the My First Time women’s writing project and the first collection of stories from the project was published in 2012.
Read an exclusive extract from The Peculiars:
* * * * * * *
Nazma was in denial about several things, one of which was that working at the kiosk was going to become her full-time job. It was supposed to be a temporary job until she found a real one, but she had worked there almost every day for the past three months. She wanted to be a pastry chef, and spending her days in the kiosk with its stale food was like being an artist and having to do colouring by numbers. But she had scared herself out of possibly ever being able to get a proper job. In this city – in any city in South Africa – you had to be able to drive. Transport fascism had doomed her to a life of working for her parents.
To keep herself busy Nazma conducted daily kiosk experiments. This morning it was an exercise in measurement. She was balanced on tiptoe, on her left foot, with the smell of curry spices and cigarettes drifting into her nostrils, tickling the hairs and reminding her brain where she was – in a tiny train-station kiosk waiting for her world to change.
Her left hand was outstretched, its painted nails pressed up against the wall in front of her. Beneath this hand were jars of brightly coloured sweets. Their labels described multiple ingredients in Chinese, and their logos announced names like ‘Healthy Love Vitamins’ and ‘True Fruit Colours’. Next to them was the stack of cigarette cartons from which loose cigarettes were handed through the bars to those in the throes of nicotine addiction.
In the right corner, beneath her outstretched right arm and directly beneath her right hand, was the old-fashioned cash register. Its numbers had long since worn away from vigorous pressing in countless sales. Nobody needed receipts from here, and when they did they didn’t get them.
Above her right arm and hand was the shelf where the newspapers stood. The shelf itself was not much to look at. It was painted white but the paint was peeling, and every now and then she would have to dust curls of paint off the pies and other baked goods before she heated them. It was so poorly lit inside the room that nobody noticed any of this, so she and her parents hadn’t bothered to repaint the shelf. The peeling paint was perhaps a chemical aversion to the news in the papers. Die Son, Daily Voice, and other sources of shock journalism screamed headlines such as ‘Baby eats poisoned cat and survives’, ‘Father says mother drove him to the brothel’, and ‘Strange sex a growing market’.
She found the size of the newspapers appealing. They weren’t too big to unfold comfortably, and she thought that this simple design was perhaps why they sold so well. They were easy to hold on public transport or in a crowded space. A while back she’d picked one up to read. The headline that day had been about a soccer star who had hired a tokoloshe to help him defeat his opponents. Nazma had wondered if the tokoloshe was like voodoo, where you have to believe in it for it to work, or if he could work on you whether or not you believed in him. Thinking about this had made her feel quite nervous, and she’d had to sit with the door open and her feet up on the stool for the rest of the afternoon. She didn’t read the papers any more; she didn’t need the extra stress.
Another source of dismay inside the kiosk was the food. Abigail, Nazma’s mother, told those outside the bars that the baked goods, normally pies or samoosas or sausage rolls, were made fresh every day. Abigail’s earnest voice, bovine eyes and the low prices of the pies allowed customers to convince themselves that she was telling the truth. Technically, on Mondays and Thursdays, she was. On the other five days of the week they were freshly reheated, paint curls dusted away. Nazma always worried that someone would complain about the paint or get food poisoning or something from the pies. She made sure to dust them extra well each time before putting them in the microwave.
The microwave was near-prehistoric. It had weathered the move from Tongaat and was now underneath Nazma’s right foot. The distance from corner to corner in the kiosk was only a little more than a metre: she probably could have taken the chance and put her left foot up to become fully suspended above the floor, but didn’t want to descend into complete lunacy. After all, the microwave’s clock told her it was only ten in the morning.
So there she was, part spreadeagled, in the four corners of her tiny train-station kiosk. The yellowish glow from the uncovered bulb cast a strange light on all the items in the store. This was lucky for Nazma because if it hadn’t made everything look so unappealing she suspected she might have become obese from eating all of the pies herself, one at a time, day in and day out. Obesity from comfort eating was one of her more realistic fears.
Julius, the station guard, was standing on the platform trying to see her movements through the security bars. He had seen her attempt to put her foot over her head before, as well as various other acrobatic feats, but this was new. She seemed to have truly lost it this time. He radioed his colleague at Newlands to tell him she was at it again, and then continued to watch with interest. He wondered how long before she flung the door open in a panic this time.
Her experiment to touch four shop corners while standing in the middle of it had proved less time-consuming than she had hoped. Thinking she was unobserved, Nazma took down her hands and foot after one last consideration of moving her left foot to join them, wondering if she could balance up there like Spiderman. She brushed down her hair, sat back down on the stool, and waited. It was too much. She opened the door and stepped out, despondently breathing in the fresh air. Julius felt sad too, as his show was over sooner than expected. He got up and walked towards the subway.
As she stood in the doorway, Nazma began to daydream about baking. Her favourite recipes were for simple things. Apple crumble, vegetable soup, butter chicken curry, muffins, crunchies, vetkoek and biscuits. She missed spending days in the kitchen preparing food for her family, as she had done to practise while she was studying. Now, because she wasn’t bringing in any income, she was relegated to working here, serving warmed-up food and stale chocolates. She contemplated suffocating herself with a pie, but instead returned inside and slumped a little deeper into her stool. She noted a possible next experiment: slouching as far as she could without falling off. The thought of living with her parents and working in the kiosk forever made her feel light-headed, and she put her head between her knees.
Breathing deeply, she had to admit to herself that, on an ordinary day, there were some highlights in the kiosk. At seven-fifteen, give or take a few minutes depending on Metrorail’s daily delays, a train would pass through her station. Before its screeching brakes, the gentle tinkle of a tambourine and the steady throbbing of a drum would fill the air. The drumming came from the people in that particular carriage all stomping their feet in tune to the singing of the crowd. She had never left the shop to see what was happening in the carriage, nervous that the illusion she had of the magical musical train would be shattered by the revelation that it was just a group of ordinary people, singing an ordinary, comprehensible song. Or worse, that it was religious.
Nevertheless, she strained her ears each morning, waiting for the train to arrive. When she heard the music she would close her eyes and the light behind her lids would pulse red, warm yellow and soft orange. It was a daily dose of Zen before breakfast. While the warmth lingered she used it to psych herself up for the day ahead. When the train left the station she always felt lighter.
Now, she thought about the night before, and how strange it had all been. She remembered the long queue, the old man with his gilded stick and that strange woman who had watched them with the binoculars, the smell of the smoker’s shirt against her face. Not being able to go out alone at night meant she hadn’t really spent much time around men since she’d finished studying six months before. Public transport really limited a woman’s ability to get some.
Image courtesy of Women24