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Karina Brink Talks to Alistair Morgan at the Launch of The Land Within at Kalk Bay Books

Alistair Morgan

Alistair Morgan launched his second novel, The Land Within, at Kalk Bay Books on Thursday night. Writer and critic Karina Brink said that she was privileged to speak to him and referred to him as “one of her all-time favourite writers”. Morgan has been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Caine Prize, and he is the first non-American to win the Plimpton Prize. His previous book, Sleeper’s Wake (2009), is currently being adapted to film.

Karina Brink and Alistair Morgan The Land WithinMorgan was born in Johannesburg, he had a “mixture of a city, a farm and a boarding school upbringing”. His father had two farms near Graaff Reinet and Bedford, but Morgan he didn’t really like the farm life and considered himself “more of a city boy”. He would spend most of his time reading his father’s novels.

When Brink asked him how his career in advertising compared to his writing experiences, Morgan replied by saying “advertising is like baseball and writing is like test-cricket, similar but very different”. Writing, he says comes from within yourself, “it’s more about self expression”.

Morgan said that ever since he was a young child writing was something he gravitated towards but “it only really occurred to him in his early twenties” that writing was something he really wanted to pursue. He completed his masters in creative writing and during the course he “only wrote short stories and the first stories were about half a page long”.

Although he prefers writing novels, he was told in the course that “short stories are very useful”. His supervisor, Damon Galgut, advised him to keep writing them “because you never know when you’ll need them”.

Morgan added that he didn’t really “ever think of writing in a genre”. Reflecting on the art of writing, he felt that “the heart is a lot wiser than the brain but the brain is good at organising things once it’s spewed on to the page”.

Morgan’s latest book draws on his time on the farm and his relationship to the landscape. He spoke about the “ambivalent and complicated relationship most of us have with this land”. Brink quoted Morgan by saying he felt “the book is about loving and loathing the land of your birth”.

Brink felt that the most wonderful thing about Alistair’s writing is that it is not only plot driven. “It’s not the setting, the plot and characters but the language itself which is deceptively simple”.

Morgan concluded the launch by reading the first few paragraphs of the book to give the audience, as Brink said, “a feel of how it draws one in”.

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Henrietta</a>
    October 9th, 2012 @19:33 #

    Congratulations Alistair - hope there will be another launch?


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