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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

The wine connection in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know

The man behind the character: True-life inspiration in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know

 
The Safest Place You KnowMark Winkler’s third novel, The Safest Place You Know, is set in the 1980s in South Africa. Much of the action takes place on a wine farm in the Cape – a vast estate owned by a wealthy heiress.

Today South Africa’s wine industry enjoys international recognition and is a significant player on the world stage; back then, things were very different. The author discusses the state of the wine industry in South Africa in the 1980s, and considers how things have changed over the past thirty years:

In the 1980s, the South African wine industry focused on selling its product on price rather than quality. International sanctions had begun to have a severe effect on the South African economy, and the result was a surplus of mediocre and unsalable product, referred to as a “wine lake”. Millions of litres were dumped into rivers and dams in the attempt to reduce supply and to push up demand. Only the most visionary of grape farmers, like the fictitious Oliver Maidenstone Basset, had begun to concern themselves with quality. They introduced new technology and innovative, if controversial, techniques, such as the green harvest practised on the Basset estate. Though not immediately profitable at the time, such initiatives would become the norm, raising the international reputation of South African wines.

 
The Safest Place You Know follows a young man who, after his father’s violent death, leaves the family farm in the drought-stricken Free State with no plan, and with no way of knowing that his life will soon be changed for ever by two strangers he encounters on his journey south: a mute 12-year-old girl who bears a striking resemblance to his late niece, and a troubled lawyer who detests the Cape wine estate she’s inherited from her cruel and arrogant father. As they become entwined in each other’s lives and secrets, it becomes clear that the enigmatic little girl will play more of a role in their redemption than anyone suspects.

About the author

An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything)WastedMark Winkler is the author of the critically acclaimed novels An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything) and Wasted, which was longlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. His short story “When I Came Home” was shortlisted for the 2016 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and “Ink” was awarded third place in the 2016 Short Story Africa competition.

 
 
 
 
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Another international book deal signed for The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga

Read ‘Space II’ – a new story by Masande Ntshanga
The ReactiveThe Reactive

 
After much interest in the United Kingdom, publisher Jacaranda Books have acquired the rights to publish Masande Ntshanga’s acclaimed literary novel The Reactive in the UK and across the Commonwealth.

An American edition of the novel was published earlier this year, and German translation rights have also been sold.

The Caine Prize-shortlisted author’s debut novel is a poignant, life-affirming story about secrets, memory, chemical abuse and family, and the redemption that comes from facing what haunts us most.

Contracts were negotiated by Aoife Lennon-Ritchie of the Lennon-Ritchie Agency.

The Reactive was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and longlisted for the Etisalat Prize for literature.

A recipient of a Fulbright Award, a Mellon Mays Foundation fellowship, and a Civitella Ranieri fellowship, Ntshanga also won the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award.

 
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A very South African book: Irna van Zyl launches her new crime novel Moordvis at Love Books

Launch of Irna van Zyl's Moordvis/Dead in the Water
Dead in the WaterMoordvis

 
Irna van Zyl launched her new crime novel Moordvis (published simultaneously in English as Dead in the Water) at Love Books in Melville, Johannesburg recently.

Van Zyl was joined onstage by Ruda Landman, former presenter of investigative television programme Carte Blanche.

Rather than just telling a story, Van Zyl says her latest book is also an effort to break prevalent South African stereotypes.

“Some of the heroes are not white,” she said when asked whether white people saw the issue of crime as a black problem.

Van Zyl tied the problem to both races. Her explanation being that while criminals can be black, behind them might be white people.

Launch of Irna van Zyl's Moordvis/Dead in the Water

 
By using Storm van der Merwe as her female protagonist in her book, Van Zyl has broken away from the prevalent crime novel tradition of using males as lead detectives.

But, why a crime novel when we are any bombarded with crime news on daily basis? And why crime as a genre for a writer who has had more experience running media companies and working as editor for some well-known South African media publications? These were some of the questions Van Zyl wrestled with that night.

“Crime reading is a form of escapism,” Van Zyl said.

Launch of Irna van Zyl's Moordvis/Dead in the Water

 
Another topic Van Zyl commented on was the issue of low book sales in South Africa compared to overseas markets, like the United States, for example. While the Afrikaans market reported low sales, “South African English books suffer even more,” said Van Zyl.

Van Zyl, who set the book in a fictitious town of Grootbaai, described the book as “very South African”.

* * * * *

Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the event:

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The man behind the character: True-life inspiration in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know

The man behind the character: True-life inspiration in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know

 

The Safest Place You KnowMark Winkler’s new novel, The Safest Place You Know, features a character named Victor Pereira, whose life is altered irrevocably after an encounter with the police in apartheid South Africa.

Victor’s astounding story is based on that of an actual person.

Here the author shares the real-life inspiration behind the character:

Twelve or thirteen years ago, I began a conversation with Victor Jansen, a security guard at the advertising agency where I worked at the time. He told me how a vindictive neighbour had years before set the police on him, and how he had been racially reclassified on the spot, going from white to coloured in a matter of minutes, an event that forced him out of his home and his neighbourhood, while his wife and daughter remained “white”. The character of Victor Pereira in this book is an acknowledgement of the cheerfully eccentric Victor Jansen.

Probably the most humiliating, and frankly insane, tool of the apartheid eugenics machine was the “pencil test”. It enabled even the most minor official to reclassify someone by shoving a pencil into the person’s hair. The person would then be required to shake his or her head: if the pencil fell out, they were deemed to be white, and if it remained in the hair, they could, depending on the mood of the examiner, be classified as coloured or black. An added humiliation could take the form of the examination of the victim’s pubic hair.

Rendered in meticulously crafted, lyrical prose, The Safest Place You Know is a powerful story about redemption and recovery, and what it means to carry the past with you. Set in South Africa against the backdrop of a country in flux, this evocative novel showcases Winkler’s stylistic flair.

About the book

After his father’s violent death on a hot November day in the droughtstricken Free State, a young man leaves the derelict family farm with no plan, and with no way of knowing that his life will soon be changed for ever by two strangers he encounters on his journey south: a mute little girl who bears a striking resemblance to his late niece, and a troubled lawyer who detests the Cape wine estate she’s inherited from a father she despised.

The Safest Place You Know is a powerful story, rendered in meticulously crafted, lyrical prose.

About the author

An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything)WastedMark Winkler is the author of the critically acclaimed novels An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything) and Wasted, which was longlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. His short story “When I Came Home” was shortlisted for the 2016 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and “Ink” was awarded third place in the 2016 Short Story Africa competition.

 
 
 
 
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Don’t miss the launch of Not Without A Fight by Helen Zille at Exclusive Books Hyde Park

Invitation to the launch of Not Without A Fight

 
Not Without A Fight: The AutobiographyPenguin Random House and Exclusive Books invite you to the launch of Helen Zille’s new book, Not Without A Fight: The Autobiography.

The event will take place on Thursday, 27 October, at Exclusive Books Hyde Park.

Zille will be in conversation with Ferial Haffajee.

See you there!

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Join Karin Brynard and Mike Nicol for the launch of their new novels at The Book Lounge

Join Karin Brynard and Mike Nicol for the launch of their new novels at The Book Lounge
Agents of the StateOur Fathers

 
Join Penguin Random House for a night of thrilling crime fiction at The Book Lounge, as Agents of the State by Mike Nicol and Our Fathers by Karin Brynard are launched.

The event is happening on Wednesday, 26 October at 5:30 for 6:00 PM.

Brynard and Nicol will be in conversation with Irna van Zyl.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 26 October 2016
  • Time: 5:30 for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Irna van Zyl
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge, booklounge@gmail.com, 021 462 2425

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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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Wen 1 van 3 eksemplare van Hoe verklaar jy dit? deur Danny Fourie – nou beskikbaar!

Hoe verklaar jy dit?Hoe verklaar jy dit? saamgestel deur Danny Fourie is nou beskikbaar op Penguin se rakke, en drie gelukkige lesers kan elkeen ’n kopie daarvan wen:

“Ons leef in ’n wonderlike wêreld. Gelukkig is hy wat die oorsaak van dinge verstaan.”
– Vergilius (Romeinse digter)

Ons weet dat die maan iets met die getye te doen het, maar het jy geweet dat jy met volmaan altyd dieselfde kant van die maan sien? Of dat weerligstrale vol vernietigende elektrisiteit is, maar dat ’n elektriese paling ’n lading van tot 600 volt kan vrystel?

Hierdie feite is deel van ’n magdom kennis oor die natuur, fisiese wetenskap en die ruimte wat die RSG-program Hoe verklaar jy dit? reeds jare lank beantwoord. Hierdie publikasie bevat ’n keur uit die honderde vrae van nuuskierige luisteraars wat deur kundiges verduidelik is om die wêreld minder vreemd te maak, want nie alle kennis van die wêreld om ons is voor die hand liggend nie. Daar is honderde verskynsels in die natuur en ruimte wat vra om verklaar te word. Dan praat ons nie eens van die mensgemaakte uitvindings soos die internet, persoonlike rekenaars, globale posisioneringstelsels, selfone, radiogolwe, teorie van evolusie, relatiwiteitsteorie, narkose en mense in die ruimte nie.

Agter die alledaagse skuil die fassinerende werking van kragte en wette en die wetenskap in werking: Wat bepaal dat ’n mens se hart aan die linkerkant van die liggaam sit? Hoekom vries water in ’n dam van bo en nie van onder af nie? Kan gene deur omstandighede gemodifiseer word? Hoe verklaar jy dit? is ’n boek wat jou belangstelling in die wêreld om jou sal prikkel. Dit is ’n boek wat op sy eie gelees kan word, wat op die koffietafel kan lê en wat saam kan gaan kamp om wonderlike gesprekke om die braaivleisvuur uit te lok.
 

 
Voltooi die kompetisievorm voor 22 Oktober 2016 om in aanmerking te kom vir die prys. Slegs een inskrywing per persoon word toegelaat.

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Helen Zille’s long-awaited autobiography: One of the most fascinating political stories of our time

Not Without A Fightin Not Without A Fight: The Autobiography, Helen Zille takes the reader back to her humble family origins, her struggle with anorexia as a young woman, her early career as a journalist for the Rand Daily Mail, and her involvement with the End Conscription Campaign and the Black Sash. She documents her early days in the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance, at a time when the party was locked in a no-holds-barred factional conflict. And she chronicles the intense political battles to become mayor of Cape Town, leader of the DA and premier of the Western Cape, in the face of dirty tricks from the ANC and infighting within her own party.

 

Helen Zille's long-awaited autobiography: One of the most fascinating political stories of our time

 

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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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