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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Penguin Random House South Africa Announces Publishing Team Restructure to Create National Publishing Unit

Penguin Random HousePenguin Random House South Africa announced a restructure to its publishing divisions which will create a truly national publishing unit with centres of excellence in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Marlene Fryer, currently Zebra Publisher, is appointed to the new role Penguin Publisher – Nonfiction and will publish titles under both the Penguin and the Zebra imprints and give a renewed focus on growth areas of South African politics and history, memoir, sport and business books.

Fourie Botha, currently Umuzi Publisher, will also take on a new role as Penguin Publisher – Fiction, publishing under both the award winning Penguin and Umuzi imprints.

Pippa Parker will remain the Publisher – Struik Nature and will continue to oversee Struik Travel and occasional art titles for Fernwood. Linda de Villiers, Publisher – Struik Lifestyle, will continue to publish cookery, design, craft, gardening, parenting and health and cookery titles under the Penguin imprint.

Steve Connolly, Managing Director, Penguin Random House South Africa said: “We have a really exciting opportunity to create a formidable publishing hub, by combining the highly respected imprints of Penguin, Zebra and Umuzi into a single nonfiction team and a single fiction team. This new structure will allow our imprints to continue to remain specialist publishers whilst giving Penguin Random House a significant combined presence to provide guidance and support for our authors throughout the country.”

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The Power of Secrets and Love in Marguerite Poland’s New Novel, The Keeper

The KeeperPenguin Books South Africa presents the new novel from Marguerite Poland, The Keeper:

When lighthouse keeper Hannes Harker is posted to a remote island with his young wife, he discovers something long-hidden in the tower that causes him to lose his footing and fall. Seriously injured, Hannes is evacuated to hospital and nursed back to health by Sister Rika, to whom he haltingly tells the story of his life: of his mother’s mysterious death, of his wild young wife, Aletta, and of the desolate island inhabited only by the lighthouse keepers and guano workers – two communities confined together, yet rigidly separated in one of the bleakest places on earth. With the arrival of a figure from Aletta’s past, her own secrets erupt into the present, just as the simmering tensions and injustices endured for so long by the guano workers erupt into a single, shocking act of violence.

Written in the exquisite, haunting prose for which Poland is renowned, The Keeper is the story of two generations of lighthouse keepers – men obsessed by their duty to the light – and the wives who accompany them into a life of frightening isolation.

The Keeper is a novel about the power of secrets, the power of love, and the power of stories.

About the author

Marguerite Poland is the author of six novels, including Train to Dorinbult, Shades, Iron Love and Recessional for Grace. In 2003, in collaboration with artist Leigh Voigt and Professor David Hammond-Tooke, Poland wrote the highly acclaimed The Abundant Herds: a Celebration of the Nguni Cattle of the Zulu People, based on her doctoral thesis. She is the winner of the first two Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Awards for Children’s Literature and is the recipient of two Lifetime Achievement Awards for English Literature.

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Bring the Kids to the Launch of Jeff and George and the Totem Pole at The Book Lounge

Jeff and George and the Totem PoleCome have fun with Jeff and George at The Book Lounge for the launch of Jeff and George and the Totem Pole, written by Emily Child and illustrated by Julia Anastasopoulos.

The launch will take place at The Book Lounge on Saturday, 16 August 2014 and will start at 11 AM.

See you there!

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Michael Taljaard Chats About the Process of Getting his Debut Novel The Transkei Run Published

The Transkei RunMichael Taljaard spoke to the Daily Dispatch about how he went about getting his debut novel, The Transkei Run, published.

Taljaard says it feels “surreal to finally have my mutant brain baby out in the world”, and explains how he went about submitting his manuscript to publishers, saying Penguin Books was always his first choice but that he was willing to “sell my kidneys” to get it to print. Luckily, the book made it into the world without such a severe sacrifice:

Was it a long time coming? How many publishers did you have to submit it to?

I’ve been telling people I wanted to be an author since I was about five years old, so people ask what took so long. I started writing it while I was supposed to be studying for [Unisa] exams at the end of 2011. I finished at the beginning of 2013. Penguin was the first publisher I submitted to because they were the ones I really wanted. When I hadn’t heard back from them after a couple of months I sent the manuscript to a bunch of other publishers, but didn’t hear anything back from them either. I was ready to sell my kidneys to print the book myself when I got the e-mail from Penguin saying they were interested. It was either incredible luck or a gift from the kidney fairy.

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Win One of Five Signed Copies of The Transkei Run by Michael Taljaard

The Transkei RunPenguin Books is giving away signed copies of Michael Taljaard’s darkly funny novel, The Transkei Run, to five lucky people.

Read an excerpt from the book, which follows the painfully hungover Jeremy “Spikes” Vorster and his friend Zachary Post who set off on a roadtrip to the Transkei after Friday night’s dubious activities.

To enter and stand a chance of winning simply fill your details in on the Penguin Books website. The competition closes on Monday 28 July at 11:59 PM.

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Lauren Liebenberg Discusses Suburban Bondage, Gender Issues and Cry Baby

Cry BabyCry Baby is about bondage – about how women bind families, how they bind themselves and how the past shadows us in ways that are invisible to us when we are young,” Lauren Liebenberg tells Thomas Okes in an interview for O, The Oprah Magazine. “It’s also about the perversions of bondage. When you have succumbed to the tyranny of conformity, you almost have no choice but to resent only those who haven’t.”

Liebenberg discusses the role of control in the relationship between mother and child and speaks about the gender disparity that is still prevalent in parenting: “We live in a world where money and power are still massively skewed by sex. Cry Baby looks at it from the vantage of the losers – who are in suburbia.”

Read the interview:

You describe writing as “the ultimate form of escapism” and the process of getting published as an “ego-deflating ordeal.” How should aspiring writers ready themselves for a life that is both challenging and joyful?

I used to try and candy-coat things, but now I prefer to tell it like it is: Giving birth is less painful, less bloody and certainly quicker than getting your novel published. If you haven’t actually been smothered under the avalanche of anonymous “Dear Author, Thank you for your submission, but …” rejection letters by the time you find a publisher for your first manuscript, you will still – and forever more – have to submit to the soul-crushing process of editing. The good news is that all these eye-watering doses of humility will stand you in excellent stead for bad reviews once your novel is actually published, (which are like eavesdropping on a conversation about yourself in the smoke-room, in which everyone agrees that you suck).

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Travelling in Jaisalmer: An Excerpt from Garden of Dreams by Melissa Siebert

Garden of DreamsMelissa Siebert’s debut novel, Garden of Dreams, follows 14-year-old Eli de Villiers as he travels to India from Cape Town with his mother, with plans to visit his father in Nepal after they’ve travelled a bit first. Visiting the places his mother went in her youth, they go to Jaisalmer where his mother, who swings from highs to lows, ends up sleeping a lot before telling him she has to cut the trip short and return to South Africa for work.

She encourages him to stay and travel to see his father on his own: “Things always go wrong, Mom, he wanted to tell her, feeling the dread closing in, choking him, making his chest and stomach ache. I need you to help them go right. If he pleaded with her, he thought, she might not go. He was too old to cry but felt he might.”

Eli’s feeling of dread is proven to not be misplaced as the owner of the guesthouse they’re staying in takes him on a camel ride before taking him to a strange house and giving him a drink that leaves him feeling drowsy:

Your father is making a map of the world, the boy’s mother had told him – the countries he has saved, those yet to save, the unredeemable. It’s funny how some countries don’t exist because you don’t think of them, the boy thought. He hadn’t really thought of India before a month ago,
when his mother suggested they travel east to find his father. Now here he was, in a shabby guest house on the edge of the Thar desert, at a
little round breakfast table being explored by flies. Alone, except for the woozy, heat-drugged flies and a waiter swishing around in a dirty white
dhoti, straightening tablecloths, ignoring him. Voices drifted through the small window carved from cool stone walls, strange children’s voices
and earthy smells he didn’t want to name. His mother was upstairs still sleeping, and he was desperate for her to wake up.

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The Morning After the Night Before: An Excerpt from The Transkei Run by Michael Taljaard

The Transkei RunMichael Taljaard’s newly published novel, The Transkei Run, is a darkly funny tale of misadventure, following Jeremy “Spikes” Vorster and his friend Zachary Post as they leave for the Transkei, fleeing their half-remembered Friday night activities.

“This is not the sort of town you want to end up in late on a Friday night when the beer has been replaced with brandy,” Spikes says. “This is East London, South Africa, aka Buffalo City, aka Slummies.”

Spurred on by Zachary telling him to expect a visit from the cops after the unrecollected thing he did the previous night, a very hungover Spike agrees to go on a roadtrip.

Read the excerpt:

Check it. Saturday morning. Hung-over as fuck. The beer fear squirms through my belly with alien tendrils and I know with absolute certainty that I have done something unforgivable.

Something apocalyptic. Again.

I run a diagnostic. My head is pounding. There are cuts on my knuckles.The bed next to me is, thankfully, empty. Apparently Jeremy “Spikes” Vorster (yours truly) was too far gone last night to think about bringing a woman home. A brief, horrifying flashback reminds me why, simultaneously filling me with gratitude and shaking me to my core: overweight women with bad skin, their skimpy tops losing the battle to contain bulging breasts.

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Melissa Siebert Explains Why Writing Her Novel Garden of Dreams Was the Easy Way Out

Garden of DreamsMelissa Siebert, author of Garden of Dreams, spoke to Scenic South about what inspired her to write her novel.

Siebert, who was born in Boston but came to South Africa in 1988, has a long career as a journalist, covering “rights-based” stories such as forced removals during apartheid, human rights in Palestine and the exploitation of black blues musicians in Mississippi. She says these and other issues were the impetus behind Garden of Dreams.

Child trafficking is the worst abuse of those rights, with 1.2 million children being trafficked a year globally, the majority into sex slavery. It’s a tricky and dangerous subject to cover as a journalist, so I guess you could say I took the ‘easy’ way out and wrote about it in fiction. Though that’s only part of the novel. It’s also a coming-of-age story, the story of a fragmented family and the tough choices people make between the personal and the political in life. I’ve wanted to write a novel for years – but it seems I needed to live life to this extent to be able to write this book.

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Michael Taljaard Presents His Darkly Funny Novel of Misadventure, The Transkei Run

The Transkei RunNew from Penguin Books, The Transkei Run by Michael Taljaard:

On a painfully hungover Saturday morning two incorrigible small town scallywags, Jeremy “Spikes” Vorster and his impulsive but charismatic sidekick, Zachary Post, decide to flee their previous night’s regrets and the repercussions thereof in search of adventure in the rural Transkei.

A run-in with a local taxi gang sets in motion a series of events that unravel a tense and violent misadventure as the two young rebels are forced to defend themselves at all cost. What results is a gritty, uniquely South African undertaking, complete with sex, drugs and boerewors rolls, spiralling into complete and utter anarchy.

The book is also darkly, screamingly funny.

About the author

Michael Taljaard was raised in East London. He received his BA with English and Psychology from Unisa. He is currently a drifter without permanent residence, having returned to South Africa recently after a year and a half working abroad.

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