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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

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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Publishers Weekly Reviewers are SL Grey Fans

SL Grey’s three Downside novels, The Mall, The Ward and The New Girl, have caught the attention of Publishers Weekly.

The MallThe WardThe New Girl

SL Grey, a collaboration between Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg, published the first of the trilogy in 2011, the second in 2012, and third, The New Girl, was out last year.

While SL Grey tell Books LIVE they do not yet have a US publisher, Corvus, their UK publisher, has started selling into the States, and the critics seem to be enjoying what they see.

Publishers Weekly‘s review of The Mall includes the line: “Their journey rapidly goes south as seemingly familiar territory becomes more and more bizarre”, and sums the novel up as a “surreal and disorienting dream quest”. For The Ward Lotz and Greenberg receive the following high praise: “Grey practically reinvents the body horror genre with this standalone sequel to The Mall, which veers from creepy through disgusting to gonzo while constantly subverting and reinventing familiar tropes”.

Read an excerpt from Publishers Weekly‘s review of The New Girl:

Grey’s downsiders learn how to pass as humans by watching outdated television shows and movies, and their antics provide comic counterpoint to the missteps of the tragically fallible human characters. Though the plot meanders a bit, Grey provides a deliciously unsettling depiction of a deeply inhuman world that nonetheless aspires to imitate ours.

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Melissa Siebert’s Garden of Dreams Launches at The Book Lounge with Michele Rowe

Melissa Siebert

The South African literary landscape is a very exciting place with fantastic new South African writers producing amazing works of fiction and non-fiction! So said Mervyn Sloman, who welcomed Melissa Siebert as one of the newest emerging voices at the launch of Garden of Dreams at The Book Lounge.

Siebert was joined by another new South African voice, Michéle Rowe, author of What Hidden Lies. Before commencing her interview with the author, Rowe promised the many readers gathered at the event that Garden of Dreams was a highly entertaining and thought-provoking novel.

Melissa Siebert and Michéle RoweGarden of DreamsSiebert was introduced as an award-winning journalist with a broad range of experience, who has written about everything from the Mississippi Delta blues, to diamond smuggling in South Africa and the ‡Khomani San in the Kalahari. An experienced travel writer, she has taught journalism at Harvard University, the American University in Cairo and at the University of Cape Town.

Siebert spoke about her first foray into fiction, which is set in India and Nepal and tackles the topic of child trafficking. She referred to her recent post on Lauren Beukes‘ blog, The Spark, which offers other writers an opportunity to reflect on the origins of their work. She cited Virginia Wolf’s observation that being a journalist was something akin to watching your own face in a mud puddle. This career choice had, however, informed her writing and even though this was not the case for a long time, she can now truly claim to be proud of being a journalist now. She believes it helped her write creatively.

Siebert said the way children were treated around the world had profoundly influenced her. “The way children are trafficked, the issue of child soldiers and child labour, really interested me as a subject. I was too scared to write about it as a journalist, it’s a hairy subject. It’s an ongoing problem, the biggest international trade after drug smuggling and gun running. It’s a multi-billion dollar trade. The issue interested me but you can’t write a novel about issues!”

Liesl Jobson tweeted the event using the hashtag #GardenOfDreams:

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Penguin Books Authors at the South African Book Fair (13 – 15 June)

The 2014 South African Book Fair takes place from 13 to 15 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Penguin Books authors at the fair include Lauren Liebenberg, Hamilton Wende, Douglas Kruger, Helen Walne, Thomas Mollett and Melissa Siebert.

Cry BabyOnly the DeadOwn Your IndustryThe DivingBloody LiesGarden of Dreams

Friday 13 June

Douglas Kruger: Own Your Industry
2 PM – 3 PM (PRH stand)
Professional speaker and author of Own Your Industry Douglas Kruger talks about how to position yourself as an expert.

Saturday 14 June

I don’t know how she does it
4 PM (Literary Forum 1)
Lauren Liebenberg explores the good, bad and the ugly of the proverbial working mom in her new novel, Cry Baby.

Sunday 15 June

Hamilton Wende
10 AM (CTICC PRH stand)
Paul Morris, Chris Schoeman and Hamilton Wende on the subject of military history and their recent books.

Helen Walne
1 PM (CTICC PRH stand)
Helen Walne, author of The Diving, participates in a panel discussion around the taboo of suicide.

Stories that rocked our world
1 PM (Room 1.44)
The Grand Scam, Griekwastad Murders, Byleveld, child trafficking – exploring the power of the story in journalism are Rob Rose, Melissa Siebert, Jacques Steenkamp, Hanlie Retief and Thomas Mollett.

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Join Melissa Siebert and Michèle Rowe for the Launch of Garden of Dreams in Cape Town

Garden of DreamsPenguin Books and The Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Garden of Dreams by Melissa Siebert.

Siebert will be in conversation with Michèle Rowe, author of What Hidden Lies.

The event will take place on Thursday, 19 June, at The Book Lounge.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 19 June 2014
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Michèle Rowe
  • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

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