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Archive for the ‘Umuzi’ Category

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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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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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,, 021 462 2425

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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