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Aziz Pahad: The Youth of Today Need to Be Inspired to Become Activists

Insurgent DiplomatAziz Pahad sat down with Polity to chat about his new book, Insurgent Diplomat: Civil Talks or Civil War?, and about inspiring the youth of today to “get inspired”.

Pahad speaks about his parents’ involvement in the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress, the offices of which were in the same block as the ANC and the Congress of Democrats, saying constantly being surrounded by politics and leadership made him want to “get involved”.

“There’s a strong debate that’s been going on since ’94 about the ‘born frees’ and the lost generation,” Pahad says. “I hope I can explain that none of us were born activists. We grew up in an environment, we were to fortunate enough, that we wanted to get into politics … you had to get involved.”

Pahad continues that “we can’t expect” the younger generation to “suddenly become activists … there has to be some issues that moves them and inspires them”.

“There is no apartheid system now to fight,” he says.

Watch the video:

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Excerpt from Justin Bonello’s Cooked in the Karoo: Braaied Karoo Pizza and Beef Fillet Carpaccio

Cooked in the KarooCooked in the Karoo is the result of Justin Bonello’s two-year culinary journey in the Karoo. His mission was to capture the essence of the Karoo’s people, landscape and way of life. This he does by way of recipes, images and stories.

The sparse landscape of the Karoo inspires a special brand of cooking. It is rooted in tradition, and yet demands innovation. It is big on taste, and yet beautifully simple.

The excerpt below contains two of Bonello’s Karoo-inspired recipes, Braaied Karoo Pizza and Carpaccio.

Read the excerpt:


Way back when, I made a dustbin pizza before we hit Splashy Fen music festival in the southern Drakensberg. This was my version of a braaied pizza, in a 45-gallon metal drum – a makeshift pizza oven that baked delicious pizza in less than 15 minutes. Then last year, one of South Africa’s best chefs and a close friend of mine, Bertus Basson, showed me how to braai a pizza straight on the grid. So I can’t take all the credit for this recipe – I’ll share half the glory with you, Bertus!

One morning, a Wolverfontein neighbour arrived with a bucket filled with ripe green figs. Ashley looked completely lost as to what to do with the sudden abundance of fruit. But we happened to have bacon. Blue cheese. Chilli. Garlic. We had cold beers chilling in the fridge and it was almost lunchtime. Can you see where this is going? No? Let me show you.

10 g instant yeast
325 ml warm water
500 g white bread flour
a big pinch of salt

Activate and dissolve the yeast by placing it in a bowl and adding the warm water. Give it a stir and sprinkle a handful of flour over the mixture to prevent the yeast from forming a crust. Leave the yeast mixture in a warm spot for about ten minutes or until it begins to froth. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the yeast to the flour, mixing it well with your hands until it forms a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour; too dry, add a splash more water, and so on. Knead for ten minutes until the dough has a smooth, elastic consistency. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface, place the dough on the flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to rise for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. In the meantime, light your braai fire and get started on making the pizza toppings.

For those of you who don’t have the time or patience to make a biltong carpaccio (page 144), try this instead. It’s equally delicious.

500 g free-range beef fillet (the best quality you can get your hands on)
a decent glug of olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lemon
a handful of Parmesan, grated
a couple of handfuls of fresh rocket
caper berries
lemon wedges, to serve

First up, wrap the beef fillet in cling wrap and pop it in the freezer for about an hour – this makes it a lot easier to slice very thinly, which is what you want to do. You can either use your best knife or take a shortcut and use a mandolin if you have one (just be careful not to slice your fingers!). Once you’ve thinly sliced the fillet (how thin you want it is up to your own taste), it’s time to whip up a dressing. Mix together a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, cracked black pepper, the juice of about one lemon and a small handful of grated Parmesan. Keep a bit of Parmesan aside for serving. Keep whisking until creamy then set aside.

To plate // Serve this on a platter, topped with a couple of handfuls of fresh rocket, the carpaccio on top of that, and as few or as many caper berries as you like. Drizzle with the zesty Parmesan dressing and sprinkle extra Parmesan shavings over the whole lot. Season with salt and pepper and serve with extra lemon wedges on the side. Delicious as a light snack with fresh ciabatta and some great white wine.

Book details

“Like Animals. Both of Them, Just Slaughtered” – An Excerpt from Karin Brynard’s Weeping Waters

Weeping WatersWeeping Waters is Isobel Dixon and Maya Fowler‘s translation of Karin Brynhard’s award-winning crime thriller, Plaasmoord.

The brutal murder of a mother and her adopted daughter living on Huilwater, a Kalahari farm, opens a can of worms. Inspector Albertus Beeslaar, fresh from the city, is tasked with finding the people responsible for this heinous crime but answers aren’t easy to come by.

Read an excerpt from Weeping Waters, where an unsuspecting neighbour finds a scene nobody should ever have to witness: “Like animals. Both of them, just slaughtered. Blood. On everything. Everywhere.”

Read the excerpt:

* * * * * * * * *

     The call came through just after two.
     He was at his desk at the police station, having his lunch of vetkoek and mince. Washed down, as usual, with a mug of strong black coffee. Three sugars.
     He was almost done when the phone rang.
     One of the constables on duty in the charge office. “There’s been a murder,” the man gasped, “two dead. A farm killing. Woman and child. White. On Huil¬water farm, about forty kays out on the Upington road.” And then, “The caller’s still on the line. Would the Inspector like to speak to him?”
     Inspector Albertus Markus Beeslaar shoved the vetkoek aside.
     A man’s voice, shaky and hoarse. “Too late,” he kept repeating, “a madman … a devil …”
     The voice broke off.
      “Like animals. Both of them, just slaughtered. Blood. On everything. Every¬where.”
     He said he was standing in it. Then the man began to sob, stammering about being too late.
     It took some coaxing to get a name out of him. “Boet Pretorius,” he eventu¬ally answered. “From the farm next door.”
     The child was barely four years old. “Four, just four,” he said, over and over again.
      “Where’s the woman’s husband?” Beeslaar asked this several times.
      “There is no fucking husband,” was the fierce reply. A foreman, yes, but he was nowhere to be found.
     Where was he phoning from?
     There was a long silence, as if the man had to think about it.
     Then, “Good God, man! Get out of the house, now,” Beeslaar ordered. “Wait outside. I’m on my way.”
     For a moment Beeslaar didn’t move. So much for a peaceful life on the plat¬teland, his dream of a quiet small-town post. He threw the vetkoek into his wastepaper basket and told the constable on duty to send more backup to Huil¬water. He rounded up two colleagues and got a car. The Citi Golf. The only one available in a carpool of two. No air con, a hundred and eighty thousand on the clock.
     They squeezed in, ready to tackle the forty kilometres of dirt road.
     Sergeant Pyl had to take the back, with Ghaap in the passenger seat. Beeslaar crammed his own two-metre frame behind the wheel. Cursing under his breath, as he did each time he got into the tiny car: the steering wheel too close to his knees, the seat too narrow, no legroom, his head against the roof, leaving him feeling hemmed in and pissed off. This afternoon was no exception. He was in a foul mood already, even before they hit the road that led to the murder scene.
     But all that didn’t irritate him as much as the fact that he was still struggling to find his feet in this post: real city boy, ill at ease in a world of farmers and cattle and farm roads and sand and snakes and blazing-heat-without-air-con. He’d barely arrived, blissfully under the impression he was heading for a quiet job in a peaceful backwater, when the shit hit the fan and started flying in all directions.
     He arrived right in the middle of an unprecedented wave of stock theft. And either he wasn’t a detective’s backside any more, or he was dealing with a super-sophisticated mafia. Because he could find neither hide nor hair of these crooks, no matter how hard he tried.
     The farmers were at their wits’ end. And furious, because they were being nailed. Everyone wanted results, arrests – while he was having a hard time telling his arse from his elbow, let alone rounding up a cunning bunch of stock thieves.
     And then, just a fortnight ago, two farm workers were brutally murdered on Vaalputs. They must have caught the thieves in the act. The remnants of a flock of sheep, some with throats cut, others with hock tendons slashed, had lain there, bleating and bleeding to death, all goddamn night. Till the farmer discov¬ered them the next morning and put them out of their misery. And only then found the bodies of the workers, the Jacobs brothers, underneath the carcasses, trampled to shreds by the panicked beasts.
     And he, Albertus Markus Beeslaar, sat there like a damn fool. With everyone looking to him, the new guy with so many years of experience. Big Man from the Big City. Schooled by the cream of the crop of Johannesburg’s old Murder and Robbery Squad. But here he was now, blowing around like a lost fart. With not a clue about what to do next.
     If only he had caught the thieves, the Huilwater woman and her child would still be alive to—
     He narrowly dodged a pothole. Bumped his head, berated himself – stop brooding and focus on the road: the potholes were the size of chest freezers.
     With half an ear, he listened to Sergeant Pyl behind him – the hyperactive one, who couldn’t keep his trap shut for a second, even if he had to shout to make himself heard above the din of gravel clattering against the chassis. There was lots of gossip, he said, about the single woman farming on Huilwater. An eccen¬tric artist from Johannesburg. And the Griqua girl she was adopting, and that weird Bushman farm manager of hers. Pyl’s voice was virtually drowned out as they rattled over a corrugated stretch of road, so that Beeslaar couldn’t always follow the thread.

     Half an hour of shuffling, shaking and head-bumping. Pyl prattling on dog¬gedly from the back. Ghaap, his long, skinny body folded up like a stick insect on the seat next to him, was thankfully less talkative. Then they finally found the turn-off to Huilwater and stopped at the back door of the farmhouse.
Boet Pretorius was sitting on the back steps, his large figure hunched over. There was blood on his clothes. Stains on his knees and forearms. Even in his hair. There was vomit on his shirt, and a dark smear on the hand that was clutching a cigarette.
     Around him a wordless gathering of men: farmers from the district, driven in from God knows where.
     Who’d sent word? Beeslaar wondered fleetingly. Pretorius?
     One was still hovering in the kitchen doorway, his face pale and frightened. Probably went in to satisfy a macabre curiosity, Beeslaar thought as he headed for the group.
      “Beeslaar,” he introduced himself, “and Sergeants Pyl and Ghaap. How many of you have been inside?”
     He got his answer in the form of downcast faces, hands fumbling with a hat or a pistol at the hip.
      “Christ,” he muttered, and walked past them.
     The man at the door quickly stood aside. “There’s no one left,” he told Bees¬laar, who took a moment to comprehend what the man was trying to say.
      “From now on, you all stay clear of this house,” Beeslaar barked. “This is a murder scene, not a fucking freak show!” He swallowed back his anger and then tried again, more evenly, “Please see to it that nobody leaves this place before I’ve talked to every one of you! Understood?” He waited sternly until they assented. Then he turned and went inside the house. Over his shoulder he ordered Pyl to man the back door – no one, apart from the forensics team from Upington, was permitted – and Ghaap, meanwhile, should start taking statements and round up some officers to find the farm labourers.
     It was a particularly gruesome scene. In twenty years with the South African Police Service, he’d not witnessed anything like this. He saw the child first. In the first bedroom. Lying on her side, in a pool of blood. He could see the blood was fresh – a few hours, at most.
     The woman’s body was in a second bedroom. She was sitting on the floor, her back against a chair. Her arms hung loosely, hands relaxed, palms open to the ceiling. Like a ragdoll propped upright on a child’s bed. But without a head. Or rather, from where he was standing in the doorway, he couldn’t see one. And he didn’t want to get too close – he’d wait for the team from Forensics. Not that this was a pristine murder scene, exactly.

     The two bedrooms and the passage were covered in bloody tracks from the farmers traipsing in and out. Beeslaar felt his blood pressure rise.
     The forensics team from Upington turned out to be one bloke. “Sorry I’m so late,” he said, introducing himself as Hans Deetlefs. “Without my gps I’d never have found the place!” He looked pretty pleased with himself and his gps, this man with the fresh face and big specs. He was a short man, but clearly minus the accompanying syndrome. And he seemed smart. Already kitted out in his plas¬tic coveralls and shoes, bag of tricks in his left hand, camera hanging from his neck. “Welcome to the wild North West, Inspector,” he said, blinking his little eyes in a self-satisfied way. “I hear you’re all the way from Joburg!”
     Beeslaar mumbled a response, in no mood for chitchat.
     Cheerily, Hans Deetlefs unpacked his case and deftly set to work, pointing out a detail to Beeslaar every now and then. Such as the fact that the woman’s head was actually there. Quite simply, her throat had been cut so deeply that her head fell backwards into the hollow of the seat. Together, they inspected the chaos in the bedroom. The drawers had been pulled from the wardrobe and emptied onto the floor in a tangle of underwear, scattered items of jewellery and cosmetics, and the mattress half dragged from the bed. As if someone had been searching for something. A low bookshelf lay upended and several books were spattered with blood; this had apparently happened before the killing.
      “She must have sat watching,” Hans happily declared. “Bet you a hundred bucks they fed her roofies before murdering her.” He blinked up at Beeslaar.
      “I’m not a gambling man,” Beeslaar grunted.
     The blood was everywhere: walls, floor, bed. The woman’s long summer dress, light blue, was stained black. And outside, the front stoep too was a mess, with three sheepdogs and a mongrel lying in pools of blood.
     Deetlefs wasn’t much bothered by the fucked-up state of the murder scene. “Shit happens,” he said with an irritating grin as he blinked again. His words were still hanging in the air when more shit threatened: Sergeant Ghaap appear¬ing in the doorway without foot protection, glowing cigarette in hand.
      “Inspector, the guys outside wanna know if you can … umm, how long it’s going to take. They want to go.”
     Beeslaar began counting to ten, but didn’t even reach three. “Fuck off with that cigarette! And then go and tell that bunch outside: if they want to spend the night in the cells, they must just try and leave here!”
When Beeslaar was finally satisfied that he’d seen everything, he left Deetlefs to it and stepped outside for some fresh air. And to listen to Pretorius’s story.
     But there was a commotion and more violence threatened.
     The farm manager had arrived. Before Beeslaar could stop them, a group of

young farmers pulled the man roughly from his truck and onto the ground, ready to beat the hell out of him. And then shoot him. Ghaap, Pyl and a couple of their colleagues had to break it up.
     Adam de Kok was his name. An interesting figure, the Bushman foreman that Ghaap had mentioned. He’d been in town all day – with the Huilwater house¬keeper, Mrs Beesvel – doing the weekly grocery shopping and collecting stuff from the farmers’ Co-op. Beeslaar took them aside, walked with them to the manager’s house some thirty metres from the main homestead. They settled on the back stoep, where Beeslaar spoke to them both. But they were both shocked, knew nothing – the poor woman could hardly talk, she was so distraught. She broke down, speaking in gasps between sobs, about “her little ones”, “the evil world”, “too late”, “bad people”. The evil world indeed, Beeslaar thought, as De Kok comforted her.
     There was little point in pressing them further right now. De Kok said he would take Mrs Beesvel – Outanna, he called her – inside for a cup of sweet tea, while Beeslaar stayed on the stoep to finish the questioning. He had the rest of the workers brought to him for interviews. Same story from each one of them: “saw nothing”, “heard nothing”. All of them were clearly beside themselves. Two more had to be fetched from a distant camp where they’d been repairing fences. And apart from the fact that they were also clearly shaken, they too knew noth¬ing.
     Then Beeslaar moved on to the waiting farmers. Starting with Boet Pretorius.
      “Went into town this morning, just the usual, Co-op and bank. Quick burger at the Dune, left at about half past one. And on my way back …” He grimaced. “I’m on the farm next door, Karrikamma,” he said. And no, he hadn’t noticed any strange or unusual vehicles around here, or along the way.
      “I just wanted to stop by, the house is so close to the road, you know, you can just quickly pop in.”
Seven o’clock, almost five hours later. Deetlefs had just given the green light for the bodies to be taken away. The ambulance guy, an unwashed fellow with wine on his breath, had a hard time loading them up. The closest available pathologist was in Postmasburg.
     The yard was suddenly quiet. The farmers gone, the one-man team from Up¬ington gone. Ghaap and Pyl on their way back to the station with the ops guys.
     Beeslaar was alone. Sitting on the back steps, where he’d found Boet Pretorius earlier that afternoon. Looking out over the yard, at the two giant blue gums shading the back door. A lane of white karees separated the manager’s house from the main house.
     A big zinc dam stood at the front of the house, a windmill alongside, its pump

straining, screeching as it drew water, its blunt blades a metallic grey against the sky. Dusk was falling. The setting sun flared red in the fine dust that hovered over the yard.
     Beeslaar felt slightly nauseous. Not just because of the bloodbath he’d wit¬nessed that afternoon. It was the water. He’d been in this godforsaken place for two months, but still couldn’t get used to the brackish water, water that turned soap to scum and left chalky limescale rings in every glass. His body yearned for the stale swimming-pool flavour of Joburg tap water.
     He tried putting Joburg out of his mind. It was a different life. He was here now. On this farm, in this heat.
     Sweating like a pig. And thirsty, always thirsty.
     But he also knew that now, sitting here, this thirst was the very least of his problems.

Book details

Video: Justin Bonello Explains What Inspired Him to Write Cooked in the Karoo

Cooked in the KarooJustin Bonello spent two years traveling around the Karoo for his new book Cooked in the Karoo, which he co-wrote with Helena Lombard. In this video he explains to readers what inspired this book.

Bonello says that with the Karoo, “it just takes one trip, and you’re forever addicted”. He says the Karoo is a special place because it offers a wealth of beauty and life, and the stillness and simplicity needed to appreciate that wealth. The video represents this beautifully.

Bonello says that he tried to make the Karoo come to life for readers, and he hopes that the book makes people go out to experience the Karoo for themselves.

Watch the video:

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Video: Zelda la Grange wonder wat Nelson Mandela vandag sou sê oor korrupsie en die gebrek aan respek

Goeiemore, Mnr. MandelaGood Morning, Mr MandelaZelda la Grange het op 29 Oktober 2014 haar 44ste verjaarsdag by die Kaapstadse Persklub gevier en Janet Heard het verslag gelewer oor die geleentheid vir Netwerk24. Tydens die viering het La Grange gepraat oor korrupsie en Nelson Mandela se nalatingskap.

“In haar praatjie by dié klub het sy gesê die boek was nóg ’n verhaal waarin sy alles vertel nóg ’n bepalende boek oor die lewe van Mandela,” het Heard geskryf. Lees die artikel:

Die boek is in Suid-Afrika uitgegee in ’n tyd van verdiepende polarisasie en rasseverdeeldheid, het sy gesê.

La Grange het gesê twee kwessies is veral nou vir haar kommerwekkend: die gebrek aan respek in die openbare diskoers en ook die vlakke van korrupsie.

“Waarom is Madiba so bewonder? Waarom was mense so lief vir hom? Dit was vanweë sy respek vir mense.”

La Grange het gesê sy kan nie namens Mandela praat oor korrupsie nie, maar sy kan ’n storie vertel oor ’n gebeurtenis op toer waartydens een van Mandela se sekuriteitswagte ’n koekie seep uit sy hotelkamer gesteel het, en hoe hy daarop gereageer het. Mandela se les was om eers jouself te verander voordat jy ander mense probeer lei.

Kyk na die video vir La Grange se staaltjie:

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Die skrywer het tydens haar verjaarsdagviering kopies van haar boek geteken wat ook in Engels beskikbaar is as Good Morning, Mr Mandela. La Grange het aan Netwerk24 se Jurg Slabbert gesê: “Ons is besig om sy nalatingskap te vergeet. As ek net sien hoe mense met mekaar interaksie het, hoe mense reageer teenoor mekaar, en hoe mense tekere gaan op social media en met mekaar baklei, dit doen niemand goed nie.”

Kyk na die video:

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Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex: Die grootste risiko in die kuberruim is en bly kinders

Don't Film Yourself Having SexEmma Sadleir en Tamsyn de Beer se handleiding vir die gebruik van sosiale media, Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex: and Other Legal Advice For the Age of Social Media, het vanjaar by Penguin verskyn. Sadleir en De Beer is albei prokureurs wat gereeld met regskwessies in die kuberruim worstel.

Linette Retief het ná die bekendstelling van Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex ’n berig vir Netwerk24 oor die gevare en gevolge van sosiale media geskryf: “’n Mens hoef nie ver te soek na voorbeelde van sosiale netwerkers wat klei trap en dan die verreikende, soms internasionale, gevolge daarvan moet dra nie.”

Lees die artikel:

Moderne uitdagings

Die grootste risiko in die kuberruim is en bly kinders, want hulle kan op tallose maniere aan ’n magdom van gevare op sosiale media blootgestel word.

De Beer en Sadleir, albei prokureurs wat baie met skole en groot maatskappye werk, skets ’n kommerwekkende prentjie X van negejariges wat foto’s van hulself sonder klere aan probeer verkoop tot kuberboelies wat hul jong teikens tot selfmoord dryf.

In ’n veld wat deurlopend verander, bly wetgewing soms nie by nie. Regters moet beslissings vel oor regskwessies wat hulle nie verstaan nie, sê Sadleir. Trouens, ’n regter het onlangs droogweg opgemerk die gevolge van sosiale media kon nie heeltemal deur die oorspronklike Romeinse wetgewers voorsien word nie.


There’s No How-to Manual on How to Scratch Out a Living: An Excerpt from The Chicken Thief

The Chicken ThiefAerodrome has shared an excerpt from The Chicken Thief by Fiona Leonard.

The novel is set in Southern Africa, in a remote town which the powers-that-be have conveniently neglected. Alois, the book’s eponymous thief, is a young man trying to scratch out a living. His town is one in which many people, and a number of hardy hens, are trying to scratch out a living.

In the excerpt, Alois is out stealing chickens. He has learned how to do this the hard way. He says there is always a manual for the easy things that you could really figure out yourself. For the difficult and dangerous things, you are on your own.

Read the excerpt:

Alois smelt the intruders before he saw them–or rather, he smelt their anger first. He knew the smell of anger well. He had learned to smell it coming, and to duck and run. The chickens knew too; they were restless, wings brushing against the wire that caged them in. They knew something was wrong, and yet it was not him they smelt. He had been here many times before. Even though tonight his bag was lighter than it should have been, Alois pulled himself back up into the branches and waited.

On average, Alois stole five to ten chickens per night. Five was a good take, easily achieved: ten, and his spirits soared. He kept his operation tight, spacing each grab, with no more than two chickens per house. Any more than two and he figured he might as well be running bare-arsed down the road and in the front door of police headquarters. No bird will stay quiet forever while its sisters disappear head first into a flour sack. Solidarity amongst chickens had been the death knell of many a careless thief.

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Join De Wet Potgieter for the Launch of Black Widow White Widow in Johannesburg

Black Widow White WidowSAZF Isie Maisels Library would like to invite you to the launch of Black Widow White Widow by De Wet Potgieter.

Black Widow White Widow asks, “Is Al Qaeda operating in South Africa?”

The launch will be at Beyachad in Raedene on Wednesday, 19 November at 7:30 PM. The cost is R50 per person. Please make a booking to secure your place.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 19 November 2014
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: Beyachad
    2 Elray Street
    Raedene | Map
  • Cover charge: R50
  • RSVP:, 011 645 2531

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Man-handling and the Medieval Mammogram Machine: Lauren Liebenberg’s Cancer Screening

Cry BabyLauren Liebenberg is the author of Cry Baby and two other novels, and also an entertaining “bloggerina and lipstick feminist”.

Liebenberg posted an article on her blog about her first mammogram. It involved awkward man-handling by a woman, an unpleasantly medieval machine and more KY Jelly than was perhaps strictly necessary.

But, she says, everyone should do it if it means getting the opportunity to grow old and watch one’s children grow up.

Read the article:

So … There I am, my right cheek squashed against a perspex screen, my torso twisted at an awkward angle to my hips, my calf muscles quivering from a balancing en pointe for so long.

“Can you just lean in a little more dear?” the radiographer asks the back of my head.

My lips are puckered up for a sideways smooch of the perspex, but I still manage to silently mouth, “F*** off!”

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Andrew Brown and Karin Brynard Launch Weeping Waters Amidst Tears of Mirth

Karin Brynard

Congratulations are in order! That was the message, loud and clear, at Cape Town’s popular literary spot, The Book Lounge, last Monday night. It was bustling once again with readers eager to hear Andrew Brown and Karin Brynard discuss the latter’s book Weeping Waters. This book, which was written in Afrikaans and published in 2009 as Plaasmoord, was translated by Isobel Dixon and Maya Fowler.

Brown said, “There’s a lot that is fresh and new in terms of South African crime fiction writing, both in the author’s handling of the issues and in her style.” He said that hers is an important new voice in the local crime fiction writing scene.
Karin Brynard and Andrew BrownWeeping Waters

Brown asked Brynard about the challenges of writing violence and the taboos she encountered around depicting the grisly death of a child. Despite the fiendish and brutal nature of Weeping Waters, this was one point when the tears of mirth flowed: “Writing violence is a bit like writing sex,” she said. “I really struggle to write a steamy scene,” she confessed. Brown noticed that sex-writing had been avoided, “They were in the pool, then their clothes were coming off … and then they were having drinks afterwards?”

“Hmmmm … that part was a bit more explicit in the Afrikaans version,” she said, giggling. “Some Afrikaans words just don’t translate.” Language aside, Brynard said, “It’s difficult to get the pitch right for a good sex scene. You can go to the one side and it becomes purple-ish; on the other hand it’s too pinkish. To keep it right is very difficult. In terms of very gory violence, the story is good enough to carry it. It is justified.”

Brown concurred that the level of violence and gore had to serve the narrative and affirmed that this was a mark of Brynard’s skill. He said: “I don’t have a problem with lots of violence. If you read the violence in there, the scalping and the blood, the rivers and the stealing of bodies and body parts. It is so excellently written.” He then turned the conversation to the nature of the book in English as opposed to the original Afrikaans.

Brynard reflected on the nature of language in Postmasberg, where she grew up. “So much of it is a soundtrack that contains a whole history and the colour and tonality of the landscape of the book. If I think of the Karoo and the Northern Cape, looking at the people who live on the farms and name their farms, it is a very Afrikaans environment. Having grown up in a very typical Afrikaner home, very conservative, very far-removed from anything English, to us, the English were aliens.” Brown assured her that the English are, indeed, that.

Brynard referred to her AA Fellowship meetings, and the challenges of being in a predominantly English environment. “To really express myself about something I feel deeply about, I can’t do it in English. The moment I switch to English, it feels fake. Now, to see these earthy characters in the book, especially the Griquas, speaking English…”

Brown said that Weeping Waters works incredibly well in English. He wondered aloud whether it worked better in Afrikaans. Brynard said, “It’s hard to tell… I’m not an objective observer any longer.”

An animated question and answer session wrapped up a fabulous evening and many queued to have their books signed and to shake the author’s hand afterwards.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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