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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Imran Garda’s novel The Thunder That Roars wins the 2015 Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose

Imran Garda


The Thunder That RoarsImran Garda’s debut novel, The Thunder That Roars, has been announced as the joint winner of the prestigious Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose.

The prize is awarded annually by the English Academy of South Africa for a work of prose, poetry or drama.

Garda’s taut and thrilling novel draws on the author’s experience as a well-known international journalist and news anchor with Al Jazeera. The novel grapples with themes of migration and displacement and includes scenes from Lampedusa, a primary entry point to Europe for immigrants from Africa.

The Thunder That Roars was lauded by adjudicators as “South African literature [that] soars above the tortuous apartheid history and redefines globalisation. Through the perspective of Yusuf, the main character-focaliser and CNN journalist, the reader is taken on a tour of the decomposing effects of hegemonic institutions. The storyline is energised by a tantalising dramatic irony across different milieus … Like an anti-oxidant, the dramatic irony releases its energy, slowly and effectively, accumulating and resolving tension later in the story when Yusuf makes startling discoveries while on his search enterprise.”

The Thunder That Roars was longlisted for a 2014 Etisalat Prize, and film rights to the novel were optioned in 2015 by Tsitsi Dangarembga, well-known author of Nervous Conditions and founder and CEO of Nyerai Films.

Garda’s novel shares the 2015 Olive Schreiner Prize with Jill Nudelman’s Inheriting the Earth, published by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

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Don’t miss the launch of The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso at Love Books, with Elinor Sisulu

Coming soon: The Woman Next Door, the new novel from Yewande Omotoso

The Woman Next DoorLove Books and Penguin Random House invite you to the launch of The Woman Next Door, the new novel from Yewande Omotoso.

The event will take place at Love Books in Melville on Tuesday, 10 May. The author will be in conversation with Elinor Sisulu.

Omotoso won the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. In 2013, she was a finalist in the inaugural, pan-African Etisalat Fiction Prize.

Don’t miss it!

Love thy neighbour? Easier said than done …

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 10 May 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Elinor Sisulu
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: Love Book,, 011 726 7408

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Author image: Yewande Omotoso on Facebook

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Coming soon: The Woman Next Door, the new novel from Yewande Omotoso

Coming soon: The Woman Next Door, the new novel from Yewande Omotoso

The Woman Next DoorPenguin Random House is delighted to present The Woman Next Door, the new novel from award-winning novelist Yewande Omotoso:

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility which they prune with a zeal that belies the fact that they are both over 80.

But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two to change?

About the author

Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria, moving to South Africa with her family in 1992. She is the author of Bom Boy, published in South Africa in 2011. In 2012 she won the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. In 2013, she was a finalist in the inaugural, pan-African Etisalat Fiction Prize. She lives in Johannesburg, where she writes and has her own architectural practice.

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Author image: Yewande Omotoso on Facebook

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‘Grittily realistic and acutely observed’ – Damon Galgut on Like It Matters by David Cornwell (Plus: Excerpt!)

‘Grittily realistic and acutely observed’ – Damon Galgut on Like It Matters, the debut novel from David Cornwell (Plus: Excerpt!)


Like It MattersDavid Cornwell’s debut novel, Like It Matters, was recently launched at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Award-winning author Damon Galgut – who edited the novel – gave an introductory speech at the event, calling the book “grittily realistic” and “finely written”.

Read Galgut’s speech, and scroll down for an excerpt from the novel:

I’m pleased and proud to be introducing David Cornwell tonight. It’s the first book launch of his first book, obviously a significant occasion for him – and a significant occasion for South African writing too. If South African writing only knew it!

I first met David a few years ago when he was a student in Creative Writing at UCT. He was working at that time on a collection of short stories – all of them about people who are, to whatever degree, lonely outsiders trying to hold their lives together. Most of his characters are working-class, they’re often alcoholic and estranged from their families, but they’re also – a distinctive element in David’s writing – essentially good people who’re trying to repair their own damage. Not always succeeding, but trying. In this and other respects, his writing puts me in mind of the American short story writer, Raymond Carver, though David’s work is very recognisably South African.

What was especially impressive about these stories was that they were already possessed of a strong voice – rough but gently poetic, letting in a certain South African idiom, not oblivious to the dark side of things but tender towards those who live in it.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the publishing industry isn’t kind to short stories. I hope that David’s collection will be published one day, but meanwhile he knew that he had to write a novel to get himself started. That’s what he’s done and that’s why we’re here tonight. I should add, by way of full disclosure, that my involvement with David’s writing led to my being his editor on this book, an experience that was pleasurable for me, though perhaps not for him.

Like It Matters draws on the same source as the short stories, but its raw material is darker – drugs instead of alcohol, murder instead of divorce. The narrator, Ed, will pop any pill and smoke any leaf going, though he’s engaged in a constant struggle to turn things around. And his story might have worked out differently – it might have been no story at all – if he hadn’t met Charlotte, a young, beautiful, troubled soul, and a magnet for disaster. She is, as Ed describes her, “a wrecking ball in full swing”, and it’s Ed’s life that becomes the wreck. But not before she ushers in a cast of other characters, all men devoted to her charms: her father, an angry reborn Christian trying to save his daughter, a fat policeman named Freddy, and, most memorably, her “cousin” Dewald, who may or may not be a figure from Ed’s own past, who sweeps into town on a wave of drugs and debauchery.

Cape Town is the setting for this story, but it’s not the Cape Town we see in tourist brochures. Whether it’s a cheap hotel in Salt River, or a derelict funfair in Muizenberg, this is a grittily realistic version of the city which most of us will recognise. Even the Kimberley Hotel has a cameo appearance. And the lives that play out against these backdrops are grittily realistic too – all acutely observed South African characters, people we know, even if we’d rather not get too close to some of them.

This might make for depressing subject matter if it were not for the voice of the narrator. Ed is a wise and gentle guide, raw but with a beguiling lyrical touch, who’s observing his own life while trying to take charge of it. He means well, even though nothing works out the way he plans it. His situation is pretty desperate, but his take on it is shrewd and funny. And of course his major motivation is love.

But be careful where love leads you! Central to the plot is a drug deal on a lonely road above Simonstown, where things go horribly wrong. Ed has been pulled into this scenario against his will, and suddenly he has to get out of it, when it’s already too late.

It’s hard to say into what genre Like It Matters quite fits. Partly a love story, partly a crime novel, partly a psychological study, it’s a hybrid that can’t easily be categorised. What is beyond dispute is how finely written it is, and what a window it opens onto aspects of South Africa that haven’t been deeply explored yet in our literature. I have no doubt it’s the opening act of a much longer career and one day everybody who’s here tonight will be able to say, “I was there when it all began.”

Read an excerpt:

Like It Matters: David Cornwell

The Rainbow Lodge used to be a warehouse off Salt River Road. A massive concrete floor space with resounding walls and high windows, a mezzanine in one corner, no showers, just a couple of cramped toilets and a tiny kitchen area with jack shit in the way of appliances or crockery or anything. Most of the floor space had been partitioned up with chipboard that stood about six feet from the ground. The partitions made rooms with doors you could lock with a bicycle chain—thirty-two rooms all roughly the same size, basic as anything, most of them permanently taken.

It had a sign outside and a reception desk and everything, but it was all a kind of front. There were some rooms that were rented by the hour, and people—maybe eighty per cent of them were full-time junkies, but the rest were rich schoolkids, businessmen, housewives, off-duty cops and ambulance drivers—would come in to hide away from the world for a few hours and just sin to their hearts’ content.

Everyone who actually lived at The Rainbow Lodge, though, worked for Ken in some way or another. There were thugs and robbers and a doctor and drivers, and there were ten guys living there who sold tik, Sparks and his friends, and they were the ones that really made you wonder. They’d go out on the road for days—jumped up, plugged in, superhuman—and only every now and then you’d see them stalking around The Rainbow Lodge, their faces like gloomy masks either grinning or irate, backlit by a brain that couldn’t put out more than forty watts anymore and carrying a smell on them of singed wires and sour smoke.

Like It Matters launch details

Kalk Bay Books

  • Date: Thursday, 5 May 2016
  • Time: 6 for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Kalk Bay Books
    124 Main Rd, Kalk Bay, Cape Town | Map

Love Books

  • Date: Wednesday, 25 May 2016
  • Time: 6 for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map

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The life of a man cast adrift: Like It Matters, the debut novel from David Cornwell

Like It MattersUmuzi is proud to present Like It Matters, the first novel from writer and musician David Cornwell:

When Ed meets Charlotte one golden afternoon, the 14 sleeping pills he’s painstakingly collected don’t matter anymore: this will be the moment he pulls things right, even though he can see Charlotte comes with a story of her own.

They try to make a life in Muizenberg, but old habits die hard, and they become embroiled in a scheme that soon slips out of their control.

In Like It Matters, each line of text, each mark on the page, is meticulously crafted as the novel charts, with striking flair, the life of a man cast adrift.

See also: The local Fiction to look forward to in 2016 (Jan – June)
About the author

David Cornwell is a writer and musician. Born in Grahamstown, he currently lives in Cape Town, where he writes fiction, films and songs for his rock band Kraal. Cornwell’s writing has appeared in a number of publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Prufrock, Aerodrome, Jungle Jim, New Contrast, the Chiron Review and Quiddity International Literary Journal. Like It Matters is his first novel.

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‘This crippling nightmare’ – Mathews Phosa on Jacob Zuma’s presidency

Chants of FreedomSouth Africans can sleep with ease in the knowledge that nobody and no actions are above the law‚ says former ANC treasurer general, former Mpumalanga premier – and poet – Mathews Phosa.

He was commenting on the Constitutional Court’s finding on Thursday that President Jacob Zuma had acted illegally and in violation of the Constitution.

Addressing the Phalaborwa Chamber of Business‚ Phosa said: “Our democracy is safe. With the ruling handed down in the Constitutional Court today one of the most important tests of the Democratic principles contained in our Constitution has been tested and passed.

“We can sleep with ease tonight in the knowledge that nobody and no actions are above the law.”

Phosa added that Zuma’s position as president had become even more controversial than before.

“The whole country now waits with bated breath to hear whether he‚ and my party‚ the ANC‚ will do the right thing and relieve us of this crippling nightmare.

“We need a new beginning‚ fresh and selfless leadership and a collective that finds a cause bigger than itself‚” Phosa said.

Confirming on Thursday that the remedial action taken against Zuma by public protector Thuli Madonsela was binding‚ the Constitutional Court ordered that Zuma must pay back the money spent by the state on non-security upgrades at his Nkandla residence within 105 days. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said Zuma’s failure to comply with Madonsela’s remedial action was inconsistent with the constitution and invalid.

Source: TMG Digital

Phosa’s first English poetry collection, Chants of Freedom: Poems Written in Exile, was published by Penguin last year, and launched with Kgalema Motlanthe and Julius Malema in June. Read an excerpt from the book here.

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Zirk van den Berg’s novel of forbidden love in the Boer War optioned for film by New Zealand company

Half of One ThingHalfpad een dingMovie rights to Zirk van den Berg’s period novel Half of One Thing have been optioned by independent producer Neil Sonnekus of New Zealand production company Stinkwood Films.

The deal was negotiated by Aoife Lennon-Ritchie of the Lennon-Ritchie Agency.

“It’s a wonderful read,” Sonnekus said of the book. “I fell for the ‘historical record’ hook, line and sinker. It’s a great, great con. The characters become representative of real historical forces, and I like that – the con has the solid ring of truth about it.”

Gideon Lancaster, a New Zealand soldier fighting for the British, infiltrates a Boer commando. He soon finds himself entangled in a confusion of loyalties as he becomes better acquainted with the men.

Worse, he falls in love with Esther Calitz, a Boer woman of considerable mettle who demands his loyalty over every other allegiance. Commandant Jacob Eksteen is Lancaster’s taciturn rival in love, and a man of clear black-and-white convictions. So powerful are the conflicting demands of fidelity and love that Lancaster seizes a startling opportunity when a large British battalion is mobilised in what is to be the final triumph of the imperial forces.

The book is also available in Afrikaans as Halfpad Een Ding.

Van den Berg made his literary debut with a volume of Afrikaans short stories in 1989, followed by a historical novel. After moving to New Zealand in 1998, Van den Berg switched to writing in English. His crime novel, Nobody Dies, was published to considerable acclaim in New Zealand and saw an Afrikaans edition released as ’n Ander mens in South Africa in 2013. The book won the film category in the inaugural KykNet-Rapport book awards in 2014 and Van den Berg’s film script based on that book is currently being considered for production.

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Life, rugby and everything else: Stories from the Touchline by Springbok legend Theuns Stofberg

Stories from the TouchlineStories Van Die KantlynNew from Zebra Press, Stories from the Touchline by Theuns Stofberg:

A collection of humorous, touching and uplifting stories about life, rugby and everything else by one of South Africa’s true rugby legends …

Theuns Stofberg’s illustrious rugby career spanned from 1976 to 1985, and he is commonly considered one of the all-time Springbok greats. As the 36th captain of the Springboks, one of only 56 players to be given this honour, he was tough and uncompromising on the field but a true gentleman and great raconteur off it, which he proves with the anecdotes collected in this book.

In Stories from the Touchline, he takes the reader behind the scenes, from his childhood days as a schoolboy rugby player to the 1981 flour-bomb tour of New Zealand and winning the Currie Cup for three different provinces – a feat unmatched to this day. He also writes about what it was like playing with legends such as Morné du Plessis, Gerrie Germishuys, Schalk Burger Sr and Gysie Pienaar, marvels at the fans’ odd and often colourful behaviour, and affords readers a fascinating glimpse into the amateur days of rugby in South Africa. He also shares his personal struggles with a speech impediment and ill health, and coping with family tragedy, in his own inimitable way. By turns deeply personal, amusing and nostalgic, this book will be treasured by each and every South African rugby fan.

Also available in Afrikaans as Stories van die kantlyn.

About the author

Theuns Stofberg is the only player in the history of South African rugby who won the Currie Cup for three different provinces: Orange Free State, Northern Transvaal and Western Province. In the 10 years that he played senior rugby, his side always advanced to the Currie Cup final, winning six and drawing one. He became a Springbok at the age of only 21, replacing the legendary Jan Ellis in the second Test against Andy Leslie’s All Blacks in 1976. He scored six tries in his 21 Test matches and captained four international matches, against New Zealand, England and South America. He and his wife Martie live on Rouana, a small wine farm among the vineyards of Stellenbosch.

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Don’t miss the launch of Flame in the Snow: The Love Letters of Andre Brink and Ingrid Jonker at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Flame in the Snow

Flame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink and Ingrid JonkerUmuzi and The Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Flame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink and Ingrid Jonker.

Breyten Breytenbach will facilitate the conversation between Karina Brink, Simone Venter (Ingrid Jonker’s daughter), Francis Galloway and Karin Schimke.

The launch will take place on Wednesday, 16 March. Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 16 March 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Facilitator: Breyten Breytenbach
  • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

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Lees ’n uittreksel uit Bettina Wyngaard se nuwe roman Slaafs

SlaafsSlaafs deur Bettina Wyngaard het pas by Umuzi verskyn.

Wyngaard is die skrywer van Troos vir die gebrokenes (wenner van die Jan Rabie Rapport-prys) en die misdaadroman Vuilspel.

Wyngaard gesels môre (10 Maart) by Woordfees oor haar nuutste roman. Besonderhede hier.

Die speurspan van die Khayelitsha-polisiestasie in haar nuwe riller is mense van vlees en bloed wat diep voel, in intense verhoudinge tot mekaar staan, liefhet, verliese ly en die hart aangryp.

Lees ‘n uittreksel uit hierdie nuwe roman:

* * * * *

Nicci glip by die oop deur in, laag en vinnig om haar so ’n klein teiken as moontlik te maak. Sy druk haar rug teen die muur en staan stil, kop na een kant gekantel om te luister. Al wat sy egter hoor, is haar eie hortende asemhaling binne die masker. Dis vir haar eie beskerming, maar die masker verwring alle geluide en beperk haar visie. Sy begin wonder of die kool die sous werd is.

Die dak en vensterrame van die bouval waarin sy haar bevind, is lankal daarmee heen. Die deur is verrot en hang aan ’n enkele geroeste skarnier. Bome groei tot teenaan die gebou. Takke beur deur die openinge waar die vensters was, en jong lote skiet selfs deur krake in die gebarste sementvloer in die vertrek op. Dit is nog oggend, maar geen sonlig dring die donker gebou binne nie. Die huisie is boonop in die skaduwee van ’n heuwel gebou, wat dit selfs meer neerdrukkend maak.

Sy kan haar hand nie voor haar gesig sien nie. Sy tel versigtig. In die derde vertrek aan regterkant is daar volgens haar inligting ’n perdebynes in die hoek oorkant die deur.
Sy is nou in die tweede vertrek.

Haar voet is reeds opgelig om vorentoe te trap toe sy die effense skuifelgeluid hoor. Só ’n klein geluidjie, sy het dit amper gemis. Sy versteen en druk haar selfs platter teen die muur, hart galoppend soos ’n wilde perd. Sy hoor egter niks verder nie. Wie ook al agter haar is, staan nou stil. Sy hou die kolf van haar geweer stywer vas, gereed om te skiet.

Skielik verskyn die buitelyne van ’n kop by die deur. Die man het so sag nader gekom dat sy hom nie gehoor het nie. Haar vinger begin reeds verstyf op die sneller, toe hy sy kop draai en sy Blackie Swart, haar kollega, in die halfdonker herken.

Sy laat sak die geweer en beduie met haar regterhand. Twee. Verder die bouval in.

Hy knik sy kop, en verdwyn weer so geruisloos soos wat hy gekom het. Hy is ’n groot man wat in staat is om verbasend lig soos ’n skim te beweeg.

Nicci glip agter hom aan toe ’n beweging uit die hoek van haar oog haar aandag trek. Iemand agter Blackie. Die persoon is so goed verskuil in die skadu’s dat Blackie hom gemis het. Instinktief pluk Nicci haar geweer op, maar toe sy die sneller moet trek, vries sy, die kolf skielik glad onder haar swetende handpalms.

Die onverwagse, onwelkome terugflits na haar dodelike gestoei met Zola Vimbi laat haar huiwer, net ’n oomblik lank. Dis egter ’n oomblik wat sy nie kan bekostig nie.
Die man skiet na Blackie, maar is gelukkig te haastig.

Die skoot gaan skadeloos oor Blackie se kop verby, en hy swaai verras om. Hy trek die sneller in ’n seepgladde, geoefende beweging terwyl hy nog draai en op sy knie gaan, en tref sy aanvaller vol in die bors.
Die geweld waarmee die skoot hom tref, laat die man ’n tree agteruitsteier. Met ’n swetswoord gryp hy na sy bors voordat hy plotseling gaan sit, nie meer ’n gevaar nie. Sy wapen kletter uit sy hande en val skadeloos langs hom neer.

Blackie se oë kreukel in ’n glimlag agter sy masker, voordat hy ’n duim in die lug opsteek in Nicci se rigting.

Hy het nie agtergekom sy het gevries nie, besef sy verlig, en beduie dat hy voor hom moet kyk. Saam deursoek hulle die res van die bouval, maar kry nie die tweede persoon wat sy gesien het nie. Hy moes iewers uitgeglip het. Nou huiwer hulle. Al twee weet die oomblik net nadat hulle die gebou verlaat het, terwyl hulle oë nog aanpas by die son wat buite fel skyn, is wanneer hulle op hul weerloosste is. Enigiemand kan ongesiens in die ruigtes skuil en hulle vanuit die skans aanval.

By die buitedeur sak Blackie op sy maag neer en begin kruip. Hoe hy dit regkry, weet nugter, maar hy maak weer feitlik geen geluid nie. Dit lyk vir Nicci asof selfs die stof om hom saamvou en vir hom ’n sakkie van stilte weef.

Buite die gebou lig hy sy kop op en kyk eers in die rondte voordat hy vir haar beduie dat dit veilig is. Met ’n stywe wysvinger wys hy dat hy in die bosse aan die regterkant in wil gaan.

Nicci kan Blackie se gesigsuitdrukking agter sy masker nie sien nie, maar weet hy is woedend. John Peters, haar kollega, het hulle vroeg reeds verloor, in ’n lokval, gestel deur die man wat hulle nou soek, die meesterbrein van die operasie. Blackie is op wraak uit. Wat van die res van hulle span geword het, weet sy nie. Blackie het radiostilte beveel nadat hulle nog twee lede van die span verloor het. Sover hulle weet, is dit net hulle twee wat oor is.

Sy gaan na aanleiding van sy sein vinnig in die bosse in. Dit duur ’n oomblik voordat sy aan die donker gewoond raak.

In sy kamoefleerdrag smelt Blackie met die skaduwees saam. Sy kan net hoop dat sy ewe moeilik sigbaar is. Toe wys hy haar ’n gebreekte takkie. Sy sou dit nooit eens opgelet het of besef het dat dit belangrik is nie. Gee haar die betonoerwoud en die liggies van die stad, en sy weet presies wat om te maak. Die veld is egter Blackie se domein. Platgetrapte gras en ’n gebreekte takkie vertel vir hom ’n hele verhaal, ’n storie wat oor haar kop heen gaan. Sy knik om te wys sy sien die takkie en gaan dan aan, oë onrustig op die bosse om haar.

Hulle beweeg stadig voort en gaan staan kort-kort om te luister. Plotseling hou die voëltjies op met sing.

Nicci en Blackie versteen in hul posisies. ’n Sagte voetval agter haar.

Sy swaai om, maar selfs terwyl sy beweeg, besef sy sy is te stadig.


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