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The Big Stick: Ndumiso Ngcobo Keeps Richard de Nooy on a Short Leash in Johannesburg

Richard de NooyThe Big StickRichard de Nooy completed the South African tour for his new book, The Big Stick, with a stop at Love Books in Johannesburg, where he was joined by funnyman Ndumiso Ngcobo, author of Some of My Best Friends are White and Is It Coz I’m Black?.

Ngcobo kept de Nooy on a short leash with the sharp crack of his wit, joking that he “hated” de Nooy when he first read the book because his fiction was “too good”, and asking him whether or not he had to watch a lot of gay porn in order to write the scenes that he did. De Nooy proved the force of his imagination by saying that he made it all up.

On the topic of characterisation and the diffculty of inhabiting different perspectives, de Nooy noted that relying chiefly on dialogue allowed him to present varying views without endorsing a particular one. He said that the character Staal could easily have been him if he were a gay man. He is quite methodical in his approach – emphasising what he calls “the three S’s” – “structure, structure, structure”. He explained that having three different storylines and eight different character perspectives demands a very tight structure.

De Nooy and Ngcobo also spoke about his popular walk tweets, which de Nooy said enable him to make sense of the world through a poetic lense. He argued that, by describing an experience, you lend it importance. Hamilton Wende was in the audience that evening and asked de Nooy about coming back and experiencing the new South Africa after he left during apartheid – to which de Nooy responded that he felt he couldn’t start publishing books until South Africa had been freed.

Fiona Snyckers tweeted from the launch using the hashtag livebooks. Unfortunately, her tweets are locked so you will have to find her on Twitter to view them.

Snaps from the Joburg launch

Richard de NooyRichard de Nooy

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Arja Salafranca, Sipho Hlongwane and ATKV also fired off some tweets from the launch:

@ launch of @RicharddeNooy‘s The Big Stick – horrifying to hear about gay aversion techniques used in the South African apartheid armyTue Jan 31 16:36:26 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

& equally fascinating to hear that @RicharddeNooy wrote the book in Dutch 1st & then rewrote another version in English.Tue Jan 31 16:58:33 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

#livebooks @RicharddeNooy Didn’t “research” the gay porn in his book. Made it all up. Caveat Emptor.Tue Jan 31 16:37:56 via SocialScope

Richard De Nooy (regs) in gesprek by Love Books #bigstick Jan 31 16:36:46 via Echofon

“you’ll never get the Brakpan out of me” – Richard De Nooy, #bigstickTue Jan 31 16:27:08 via Echofon

“by describing an experience, it gets meaning” – Richard De Nooy #bigstickTue Jan 31 16:41:28 via Echofon

@DanniTwiet Richard De Nooy is ongelooflik interessant. #bigstickTue Jan 31 16:51:51 via Echofon

Book details

Photo courtesy MVZPhoto


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 2nd, 2012 @17:45 #

    Here's Fiona Snyckers' tweet feed from the launch of The Big Stick. Read it from the bottom up for maximum enjoyment. (Thanks for your sharp eyes, ears and typing skills, Ms. Fifi.)

    And that's a wrap. 'The Big Stick' is also available in electronic format on Kalahari. Net.

    Richard: I wrote the trilogy as 3 books to be read independently. There are however strong connections between them.

    Richard: I have been awarded substantial grants by Dutch organisations that buy me time to write.

    Ndumiso: I always ask this question. Are you making money? (Laughter)

    Richard: I'm currently writing my 3rd book - the third in the trilogy. The Dutch edition will be out in September.

    Richard: I wrote the book initially in Dutch and then rewrote it entirely in English. It is a different book, not a translation.

    Richard: I felt I couldn't start publishing my books until SA had been freed.

    Hamilton Wende asks Richard how he experiences the new SA, having left during the time of the old SA.

    Richard: This book was driven by my fascination with the idea of dying in a foreign country. Who would come to fetch my body?

    Richard: I wouldn't label myself as an atheist, but I'm intrigued by the extent that religion steers people's lives.

    Ndumiso: Are you an atheist?

    Richard: Living in a small town means that church becomes an essential and central part of the community.

    Richard: I went to a Baptist Sunday School near Vereeniging that influenced me greatly in its overwhelming pressure to conform.

    Richard: The 3 different storylines & 8 different character perspectives in this book meant that a tight structure was essential.

    Richard: I've often said I write using the 3 'S'es - structure, structure, structure. It sounds anal but it works.

    Ndumiso: Your style of humour is at once deadpan and dark. Are you a methodical writer?

    Richard: It's about looking at your own world anew. As soon as you find a new way of describing the world, you make it important.

    Richard: Much of what I write has to do with making sense of the world through a poetic lens. My walks are part of this.

    Ndumiso: Tell us about your famous 'walks' that have become so popular on Twitter.

    Richard: There are countries where gay people still seek out 'corrective' therapy. The stigma remains.

    Richard: It's a part of SA history that is much ignored and overlooked, but some of those doctors are still practising today.

    Ndumiso: Was it hard to write about anti-gay 'corrective measures' and aversion therapies?

    Ndumiso: As a writer I know how difficult it is to write as someone you're not.

    Richard: No, I made it all up myself. Ndumiso: Good Lord! (Laughter)

    Ndumiso: As a straight person, did you have to watch a lot of gay porn to write the scenes you did?

    Richard: So Alma possibly comes off sounding more simple-minded in the English edition than in the Dutch.

    Richard: In Dutch edition Alma speaks Afrikaans to the Dutch characters. In English edition I write her speech phonetically.

    Ndumiso: The character of Alma - is she as obtuse and simple as she seems?

    Richard: I spent 20 years trying to run away from my SA identity, but now I have drifted closer to it.

    Ndumiso: Are you writing as a South African or as a Dutch man? Which is the identity you feel closest to?

    Richard: Much of book is driven by dialogue, which enables me to put different viewpoints across, without endorsing them myself.

    Ndumiso: You are writing from a perspective that you don't know first hand - the perspective of a gay man.

    Richard: Staal is who I could have been with a slightly different twist of fate - if I'd been gay, for instance.

    Ndumiso: Who is this character 'Staal'?

    Ndumiso: Richard, we all like to pretend we get along, but when I read this I admit I hated you. Your fiction is too good.

    Richard reads a story that the main character has written for a school essay competition - a Bosman pastiche.

    Ndumiso: Even Bible starts with a story, so we'll ask Richard to read us a story, for those unlucky enough not to have read this.

    Launch of The Big Stick by @RicharddeNooy. Richard is being interviewed by @NdumisoNgcobo.

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    February 2nd, 2012 @18:57 #

    Thanks, Richard. We tried to embed Fiona's stellar tweets, but couldn't access them after the launch. A terrific timeline :)

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 2nd, 2012 @19:02 #

    Absolutely! Would have been a pity not to include them.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    February 2nd, 2012 @23:01 #

    Sounds like a fitting end to a triumphant "tour", dear Richard. And great tweeting, Fifi.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    February 2nd, 2012 @23:24 #

    It was indeed, Helen. And I just found another wonderful review on LitNet. Here's the fully updated overview:


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