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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Join Mike Nicol for the launch of Agents of the State at Kalk Bay Books

Agents Of The StateDon’t miss the launch of Agents of the State, the new book from Mike Nicol, at Kalk Bay Books.

Nicol will be in conversation with Cape Talk host Pippa Hudson.

See you there!

About the book

Bring in the child tracker. That’s Agent Vicki Kahn’s assignment, her first foreign mission for the State Security Agency. That the child tracker is a top fashion model with connections to the president’s son is an added complication. Especially when Vicki watches as the model’s limp body is wheeled away at Schiphol airport. Then, in Berlin, she finds her contact dead on the kitchen floor, shot in the head. Get out, Vicki’s instincts tell her. Get out now.

Vicki’s lover, PI Fish Pescado, is working another case. Find out who shot my husband, is his brief. The husband: a rebel colonel from the Central African Republic taken down in a spray of bullets on the steps of St George’s Cathedral. As Fish digs he comes up against a local connection: none other than the South African president. Drop the case, he’s warned. Go surfing. And take your girlfriend Vicki Kahn with you before it’s too late. Secrets, conspiracies, vested interests, commie plots. Vicki and Fish are caught in the mix, with only one way out …


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Recommended listening: The soundtrack to Mike Nicol’s Agents Of The State, with notes by the author

Agents Of The StateMusic is central to Mike Nicol’s new crime thriller, Agents Of The State, which features references to a variety of songs and artists. The author shares the sounds that made their way into Agents of the State, with notes to explain their context and significance. Fittingly for this cosmopolitan novel, artists included in the soundtrack hail from all over the world, and include Aretha Franklin, Melissa Etheridge, Petula Clark, Wendy Oldfield, and Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, among many others.

Listen to the songs and sounds that shaped Agents of the State and read the stories behind them:

One January, a few years back, I had a flight cancelled which resulted in a six-hour wait at Schiphol airport. It seemed to be as good a time as any to start writing a novel and I decided, what the heck, why not set the scene right where I was in one of the many departure lounges. So I popped one of the main characters, Vicki Kahn (she first appeared in my novel Of Cops & Robbers), down on the sofa and began writing.

I had been thinking quite a lot about Vicki Kahn on the flight north and kept coming back to a CD by Melissa Etheridge that had been on the KLM playlist. The music seemed to fit the character’s mood. Especially this song, “Falling Up”:

and for a long while the book had a working title of “Falling Up”. That trip also included a stop in Berlin, where I managed to buy the CD.

As with my other crime novels there are a number of songs that worked their way into this story. Here are some of them:
Aretha Franklin’s “Say A Little Prayer”:

Petula Clark’s “Downtown”:

Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”:

Melissa Etheridge’s “4th Street Feeling”:

Melissa Etheridge’s “Shadow of a Black Crow”:

Then there are some singers referred to (Adele being one of them) and, although no songs were mentioned, these were what I had in mind:

Shawn Colvin’s “These Four Walls”:

Alison Krauss, with Robert Plant: “Through the Morning, Through the Night”:

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter’s “The Air Is Thin”:

Just as local songwriter/singer, Jim Neversink, was on my Of Cops & Robbers playlist, so during the writing of Agents of the State two other locals pitched up at nearby venues, Laurie Levine and Wendy Oldfield. So they found their way into the playlist as well. Here’s Laurie Levine’s lovely “Oh Brother”:

And Wendy Oldfield singing (what else but) “Acid Rain” (which really needs to be watched live):

Sound effects

You can find all kinds of weird stuff on YouTube and at one point I searched for battle sound effects to aid my description of a firefight. Apparently there are people who like listening to the sound of gunfire:

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Don’t miss the launch of Our Fathers by Karin Brynard with Michele Magwood at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of Our Fathers

Our FathersPenguin Random House and Love Books invite you to the launch of Our Fathers by Karin Brynard.

The launch will take place on Thursday, 6 October at Love Books in Melville.

Brynard’s first two novels, Plaasmoord and Onse vaders, took the South African market by storm, becoming instant bestsellers. She has won numerous literary awards, including the UJ Debut Prize for Creative Writing and two M-Net Awards.

The author will be in conversation with Michele Magwood. Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 6 October 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Michele Magwood
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP:, 011 726 7408

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Read an exclusive excerpt from Sally Andrew’s new mystery: Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic

Read an exclusive excerpt from Sally Andrew’s new Tannie Maria mystery: Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic

Tannie Maria and the Satanic MechanicUmuzi has shared an exclusive excerpt from their much anticipated new release Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew.

Andrew’s bestselling debut, Recipes for Love and Murder, won the coveted Booksellers’ Choice Award and Kirkus Best Book of 2015, and was given the thumbs up by the Wall Street Journal and the Oprah Book Club.

The book was published in 17 countries (and counting) and is being translated into 11 languages.

The follow-up, Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic, is being released locally this month. Scroll down for an excerpt!

About the book

Everybody’s favourite agony aunt and crime fighter Tannie Maria needs some counselling advice of her own. Lingering troubles from a previous marriage still sit heavy on her, while fresh worries about Slimkat, a local man whose fighting for his people’s land threatens his life, keep her up at night.

Tannie Maria seeks out counsellor, jokily known to all as “the satanic mechanic”. Straight out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and from hot-as-hell Hotazel, Ricus fixes both cars and people.

But Maria’s counselling tune-up switches gears when a murder flings her straight into Detective Henk Kannemeyer’s investigation. Not only is she dating the dashing Henk, she now has to work beside him: a potential recipe for disaster.

Blending an intriguing mystery with characters as lovable as the setting of the rural Klein Karoo, this book is Sally Andrew’s delightful, warmhearted sequel to Recipes for Love and Murder.

About the author

Sally Andrew lives in a mud-brick house on a nature reserve in the Klein Karoo with her artist partner, a giant eland, and a secretive leopard. She also spends time in the wilderness of southern Africa and the seaside suburb of Muizenberg. She has a master’s in Adult Education from the University of Cape Town. Before settling down to write full time, she was a social and environmental activist.

Read an excerpt:

We heard a car backfiring as it parked in Eland Street.

‘That’s probably them now.’ She got up and stood at the door, and I put on the kettle.

I heard Slimkat before I saw him, his voice quiet but strong as he spoke to Jessie. She led him into the office, and he intro¬duced his cousin, Ystervark. Then he shook my hand.

‘This is my colleague, Tannie Maria,’ said Jessie. ‘She does the “Love Advice and Recipe Column”.’

His hand was warm and dry, but I hardly felt it, because it was his eyes that filled me with feeling. They were big and black, like a kudu’s, and they looked right into me. It was very strange … I felt like he could see me. Really see me. Not only my body but all of me. It was as if my eyes were windows without curtains, and he could just look inside. He saw everything. Including the things I kept hidden, even from myself.

I looked away.

‘Coffee?’ I offered, fiddling with the cups.

‘Rooibos tea?’ he asked.

I nodded.

‘Black,’ he said, ‘but with lots of sugar for Yster.’

Ystervark was looking at all the pouches on Jessie’s belt and frowning. Like Slimkat, he was a small man, but while Slimkat was relaxed, Yster’s whole body was tense. His hands were tight fists, and I recognised him from the newspaper photograph. Ready to fight. Ready to kill, maybe. He looked at Slimkat, then at Jessie’s belt and at Slimkat again.

‘Sorry,’ said Slimkat. ‘We don’t mean to be rude. But could you show us what you are carrying on your belt? We’ve had some … incidents, and Ystervark likes to be careful.’

‘Sure,’ said Jessie, and emptied all the things from her pouches onto her desk. They made quite a pile and included her camera, notebook, pen, phone, torch, string, knife and pepper spray.

Ystervark grabbed the spray and the knife and looked at Slimkat as if to say, ‘I told you so.’

‘Sorry,’ Slimkat said again. ‘He’ll give them back when we go. We can’t stay long.’

Jessie set up two chairs for the visitors, but Ystervark stood at the office door. Then he walked towards the street and back again, with the knife and the pepper spray in his hands. He put them in his pockets when I handed him his tea and rusk. I gave the others their hot drinks and beskuit too.

‘Would you like me to go?’ I asked Jessie.

‘No,’ said Slimkat. ‘Stay,’ and he fixed me with those eyes again.

I spilt my coffee on my desk. I rescued the letters, but the coffee got all over last week’s Gazette.
Jessie picked up her notebook. ‘I know you don’t like to sing your own praises,’ she said, ‘but you must be feeling good about the victory over big business. Diamond miners and agribusiness are used to getting their way. Yet you won the fight.’

‘I am sad,’ said Slimkat. ‘It was not right to fight.’

‘What do you mean?’ said Jessie. ‘It belongs to you, that land. Your ancestors have lived there for tens of thousands of years. You could not just let the companies steal it from you.’

‘No,’ said Slimkat. ‘You are wrong. The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land.’

Jessie blinked, and her mouth opened and closed. It was not often that I saw Jessie without words.
She found them again. ‘But surely,’ she said, ‘if you do not fight, then injustice will be done. Again and again.’

‘That is true,’ he said. ‘Some people like to fight.’ He took a sip of his tea and glanced at his cousin, who stood at the door with his back to us. ‘I do not. Fighting can make you bitter. But sometimes it must be done. If you have to fight, then you must do so with soft hands and a heart full of forgiveness.’

He dipped his rusk into his tea and took a bite. Then he smiled and looked at me.

I mopped at the Gazette with a napkin. There was a brown stain over the pink advert offering relationship help.

‘I hear there have been death threats?’ Jessie said.

Related stories:

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Award-winning author Karin Brynard’s bestselling Afrikaans novel Onse Vaders now available in English

Our FathersPenguin Random House is proud to present Our Fathers, the new novel by Karin Brynard:

In one of Stellenbosch’s most affluent areas an apparent house break-in goes awry, leaving a millionaire property developer’s beautiful wife dead. Inspector Albertus Beeslaar is reluctantly drawn into the investigation. Soon this picturesque town begins to reveal its dark underbelly.

Fifteen hundred kilometres to the north, Sergeant Johannes Ghaap is thrust into a drama of his own as he races to save a kidnapped woman and her child.

About the author

Karin Brynard is a journalist who earned her stripes in the burning streets of Soweto during the Freedom Struggle of the 1980s. As a political correspondent for a nationwide newspaper, she witnessed the release of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent political settlement that ended apartheid. Her first two novels, Plaasmoord and Onse vaders, took the South African market by storm, becoming instant bestsellers. She has won numerous literary awards, including the UJ Debut Prize for Creative Writing and two M-Net Awards.

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The enigma of a solitary life: The Printmaker, the debut novel by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen

The PrintmakerUmuzi is proud to present The Printmaker, the debut novel from Bronwyn Law-Viljoen:

When a reclusive printmaker dies, his friend inherits the thousands of etchings and drawings he has stored in his house over the years. Overwhelmed by the task of sorting and exhibiting this work, she seeks the advice of a curator.

What compulsion drove the printmaker to make art for four decades, and why did he so seldom show his prints?

When the curator discovers a single, sealed box addressed to a man in Zimbabwe, she feels compelled to go in search of him to present him with the package, hoping to find an answer to the enigma of the printmaker’s solitary life.

Law-Viljoen’s subtle and sophisticated novel reflects on one man’s obsessive need to make meaning through images and to find, in art, the traces of love and friendship.

About the author

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen is a senior lecturer and head of Creative Writing at the University of the Witwatersrand, the editor and co-founder of Fourthwall Books, and a former editor of Art South Africa magazine. She received her doctorate in literature at New York University as a Fulbright scholar in 2003. She taught writing and literature at New York University, and completed an extended internship at the Aperture Foundation in New York before returning to South Africa to take up the post of Managing Editor at David Krut Publishing. She has contributed to and edited many books on art, design, and architecture in South Africa.

The Printmaker is her debut novel.

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Penguin Random House South Africa wins 2016 Sefika Trade Publisher of the Year Award

Steve Connolly

Penguin Random House South Africa received top honours in the category Trade Publisher of the Year at the 2016 Sefika Awards ceremony, held at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town yesterday evening.

Read: Sally Andrew, Penguin Random House and The Book Lounge the big winners at 2016 Sefika and Booksellers’ Choice Awards

The Sefika Awards celebrate booksellers and publishers for the roles they play in promoting a culture of reading in South Africa. The Trade Publisher of the Year Award rewards overall excellence in the South African Trade Publishing sector.

The criteria used by booksellers include outstanding turnaround times for book delivery, exceptional customer service and communication from the sales team to booksellers, and supporting booksellers with book launches and publicity.

Steve Connolly, Managing Director at Penguin Random House South Africa says, “I’m delighted that the team at Penguin Random House has been recognised by the trade. Every staff member, throughout the country has worked with dedication and passion, supporting our authors and customers, and bringing our books to the readers of South Africa. We love what we do, but it feels great to be acknowledged.”

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Shepherds and Butchers to premiere at Silverskerm Festival

Shepherds and ButchersThe film adaptation Shepherds and Butchers, based on the novel by Chris Marnewick, will be premiered in South Africa at the kykNET Silverskerm festival in Cape Town this week.

The film is directed by Oliver Schmitz and stars Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan, Deon Lotz and Eduan van Jaarsveldt.

It was awarded the third place Panorama Audience Award for Fiction Films at the Berlin Film Festival in February – a first for a South African film.

Press release from kykNET:

Earlier this year, veteran director Oliver Schmitz’s Shepherds and Butchers bowled audiences over at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it received the prestigious Panorama Audience Award.

Audiences will now get the chance to see the film at the kykNET Silverskerm festival in Cape Town, which starts on 24 August, 2016. Anant Singh, one of Shepherds and Butchers’ producers, will also be attending this year’s festival for the first time and will be present at the screening of the film on Friday, 26 August.

Shepherds and Butchers is part of a new selection of feature films that has seen the light due to the creative and financial support of M-Net. “We are proud of every single one of these films, which represents a bigger variety of genres. The films have suspenseful storylines and the production value is of the highest quality,” Jan du Plessis, Director: M-Net channels commented. “It is wonderful news that Shepherds and Butchers with its outstanding cast, including the brilliant Steve Coogan and an experienced production crew can screen at the festival with other up and coming new local filmmakers.”

Shepherds and Butchers is inspired by true events and is set against the background of the politically unsettled South Africa of 1987. When Leon Labuschangne (Garion Dowds), a 19-year-old prison warden, commits a cold blooded crime by shooting seven black men at point blank range, the outcome of the lingering court case is obvious for most – that he will get the death penalty.

The human rights activist, John Weber (played by the renowned Steve Coogan from Philomena fame), who stands against the death penalty, is the only defence attorney that is willing to take Labuschagne’s case. He discovers that this young man worked on the gallows where 164 executions took place in one year.

During the court case Weber reveals the traumatic working conditions Labuschagne was exposed to which ultimately lead to his break down.

Andrea Riseborough (the Oscar-winning Birdman), Deon Lotz, (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) Marcel van Heerden, Eduan van Jaarsveldt and Nicola Hanekom also form part of the star studded cast.

Shepherds and Butchers screens on Friday, 26 of August at 4:30 PM in the Rotunda at the kykNET Silwerskerm Festival.

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South African crime writer to team up with thriller superstar James Patterson

BreathlessSwitchPale HorsesCross JusticeTruth or DieHope to Die


South African crime writer Jassy Mackenzie will contribute a book to James Patterson’s imprint BookShots.

Patterson, who is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time, with sales in excess of 325 million copies worldwide, will be writing, collaborating on, or personally curating every title published by the new imprint.

BookShots, which will produce page-turning, novella-length stories, aims to change the way readers consume books.

“BookShots are designed to help people fit reading into their busy lives,” Patterson says. “They’re stories that you can devour in an hour or two, and that will keep you engaged throughout. People will want to pick one of these up because they won’t be intimidated by the length, or ever bored by the plot.”

Each title will be under 150 pages, competitively priced at R59.95, and available in a new compact paperback format, as ebooks and in audio.

Mackenzie is the author of five thrillers, all published in South Africa by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Her other books include Folly, Switch and Breathless. She is published in the United States and in Germany, and has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and an International Thriller Award.

Mackenzie’s BookShot will be titled 26 Degrees South and is set in Johannesburg, where she lives. A publication date has yet to be fixed.

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Fred Khumalo’s new novel on the sinking of the SS Mendi to be published in South Africa and the UK

Fred Khumalo
#ZuptasMustFallBitches' BrewSeven Steps To heavenTouch My Blood


Fred Khumalo’s new novel will be published in South Africa and in the United Kingdom in February 2017.

The book, titled Dancing the Death Drill, recounts the sinking of the SS Mendi, a passenger steamship that sank in the English Channel in 1917, killing 646 people, most of whom were black South African troops heading for France to serve in World War I. February 2017 will mark the centenary of the sinking of the Mendi.

Khumalo’s book will be published in South Africa by Umuzi and in the UK and Ireland by Jacaranda Books. Jacaranda Books founder Valerie Brandes said: “We are delighted to work with Umuzi and Penguin Random House South Africa on such a brilliant novel that will help shine a light on this dark moment in our history.”

Khumalo’s writing has appeared in various publications, including the Sunday Times, the Toronto Star, New African magazine, the Sowetan and Isolezwe. His most recent book, #Zuptasmustfall and Other Rants is published this month. Other books by him include Bitches Brew, Seven Steps to Heaven and Touch My Blood. He completed his MA in creative writing at the University of the Witwatersrand and is the recipient of a Nieman Fellowship from Harvard University, among other international writing fellowships.

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