Kelly Ansara of It’s A Book Thing interviewed Rosamund Kendal, author of The Murder of Norman Ware, about her previous Grey’s Anatomyesque novels and what makes her latest novel her best one yet. Kendal also admits that, had she not kept writing, she would “probably have been admitted to a psychiatric unit long ago”. She treats writing as therapy, something she enjoyed from the first time she wrote a story as a nine year old.
1) When/What was the crowning moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?
We had to write a short story when I was in Standard 3. I remember sitting down to write and completely losing track of anything and everything around me. It was the most incredible experience. The final product was ten pages long, a decent effort for a 9yr old. I handed my finished product in and declared that I wanted to be a writer. My teacher read the short story and made some very gentle and valid criticisms about the ending (She woke up and it had all been a dream!) and, in a fit of despondency, I crumpled up the manuscript and threw it away, swearing never to write again. But I think the seed had been planted.
Thandi Mgqolozana: I’d like to think of myself as an ordinary, big hearted underachieving rural bumpkin who enjoys reading books and pretends to be writing stuff that other people may read, which they don’t.
NP: What is your earliest memory of literature?
TM: My maternal uncle was a teacher, and I say ‘was’ because I don’t know what he is now; possibly nothing, like my dad. So this guy was a teacher and read a lot. His big books, his name appended on the inside cover of all, were all over the place in our village home. You might imagine that I’m about to say he inspired me, he didn’t; I didn’t like him. But that’s my earliest memory of literature. At school I remember the title of a certain poem and its author. I think the musical way we began reciting the poem is what moved me; we said, ‘Children’s Rain Song, by Musaemura Bonas Zimunya…’ then I’d go blank. But then came the year, much later in school, when I read Troubled Waters by Joseph Diescho. This was in the final year of school. I read this book several times, for pleasure, and I have never stopped reading since then.
In the following interview, Terry Westby-Nunn discusses her debut novel, The Sea of Wise Insects, which centres around a couple of mysteries.
Readers will be intrigued to find out why Alice and her mother don’t get along, why Alice’s relationship with Ralph disintegrated and what happened in the accident where her brother’s fiancée was killed.
Ivor Blumethall of Chai FM’s Hard Talk spoke to Ronnie Kasrils, former Intelligence Minister, anti-apartheid activist, and author of the award-winning The Unlikely Secret Agent. In the following podcast, Kasrils discusses social integration and growing up Jewish in South Africa:
EU Literary Award-winning author Kopano Matlwa spoke to Brenda Nyakudya of Afropolitan about her novels, Coconut and Spilt Milk, and her “light bulb” moment.
Matlwa said that if there was such a “light bulb” moment, it must have been when she seriously started thinking about sending the manuscript for Coconut to publishers. She says the story was about to “eat her up inside” if it wasn’t told:
When did you discover your passion for writing?
I’d always read a lot from a very young age, and writing was almost a natural extension of that for me. I never knew it was anything special. I thought everyone wrote! It was so normal, so necessary, so it was quite a surprise when I got a little older and realised that there may be something there.
Renowned photographer Obie Oberholzer recently spoke to the Citizen‘s Bruce Dennill and by Oliver Roberts of the Sunday Times, about his new book, Diesel & Dust.
Oberholzer explained to Roberts the meaning behind the book’s title, saying that “Diesel and Dust” has always been his philosophy. For Oberholzer, the smell of diesel and dust is the smell of freedom: “It’s in the search that is the beauty: A to B via Z,” he says. “We all seek our Utopia, we all seek our Nirvana, and hopefully I never find mine because, when I do, it’s over.”
Speaking to Dennill about his choice of photographic location (usually small towns), Oberholzer says, “I like to go where the landscapes are still reflected in people’s faces”:
Movember – the month when men the world over grow moustaches as an act of male unity – has just ended. Obie Oberholzer, though, doesn’t need a silly observation like Movember to grow a moustache. He was born with one, grew it in the womb. No photograph exists of him without it.
A magnificent specimen, Obie Oberholzer’s moustache is. It’s perched atop his upper lip like an industrial-strength wire scourer, the kind you buy specially from Builder’s Warehouse to scrub away at manly fluids such as grease and oil and diesel.
Initially, women must want to run screaming from the thing – this heavily follicled mass of testosterone that smirks and squirms and collects wayward debris that blows in from storms.
A bold and daring novel, Illuminating Love entwines the journeys of two Jewish women, Judith, forced to leave her home in Eastern Europe before World War II, and Cally, her granddaughter living in South Africa.
Transcribing her grandmother’s poems in calligraphy, Cally uncovers her family history and roots in Lithuania. Judith’s love poems also serve as a counterpoint for Cally’s circumstances – she is inscribing a love sampler for her husband Jake in order to win him back. At the same time, Cally inscribes and illuminates a Ketuba, the Jewish marriage contract, for Aaron and Shira.
The novel takes a bold look at the myth that abuse does not occur in middle-income marriages or in Jewish families where it is veiled in silence. It vividly recreates Judith’s life in Europe before and during the Second World War, and takes the reader into the heart of one middle class marriage in contemporary South Africa, focusing on a particular family and heritage.
The Mail & Guardian featured a profile of budding author Tuelo Gabonewe, who has just published his debut novel, Planet Savage. In the article, Gabonewe describes himself as an old soul, who spends most of his time “cooped up in [his] kennel”, hacking away at his keyboard: “I am 26, but I lead the life of a 53-year-old.”
Gabonewe says JM Coetzee, Dambudzo Marechera, Camilo José Cela and Mia Couto are some of his favourite authors, and he firmly believes the best music in the world come from West Africa:
I am 26, but I lead the life of a 53-year-old. That’s what everybody keeps telling me anyway. I live right in the heart of the city of Jo’burg.
The only time I ever get out of my flat is when I go to work or when I go for a stroll in the city. Otherwise, I spend the rest of my time cooped up in that kennel, tapping away at the computer, begrudging my crazy characters their colourful personalities.
I love music. I’m something of an omnivore where the consumption of music is concerned though. I listen to most, but not all kinds of music.
The launch was hosted by the Mail & Guardian, Exclusive Books and The Mall of Rosebank Book Club and featured the authors in conversation with M&G‘s Darryl Accone. Thanks to the the tweeting of Books LIVE member Fiona Snyckers, we learned that the event was attended by such literary luminaries Cynthia Jele, Sifiso Mzobe, Mandla Langa and Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, who reportedly commented during the the audience Q & A, “As writers we can’t help writing. We cannot suppress the urge that makes us write”.
Darryl Accone implied that Mahala’s book, which consists of “12 interlinked stories that pay homage to Can Themba and the Drum generation” currently leads the race for next year’s Sunday Times Fiction Prize. He said “the hallmark of Mgqolozana’s book is a tribute to the greatest story ever told – the Nativity”. The narratives of both books feature events situated in the past, with Mahala’s short stories harking back to the Sophiatown of the 1950′s and Mgqolozana’s reincarnating (sorry) the story of Jesus’ birth. Mgqolozana remarked, “There is no need for the SA writer to feel bound to his or her own time and place. Set your story anywhere or any when”.
Siphiwo Mahala and Thando Mgqolozana with Tuelo Gabonewe, who will be launching his book Planet Savage on 12 October
Accone suggested that some of the best story writing in the world is written by South African authors, and asked the authors about the future of short story form in SA. Mahala said that often too much short-story writing “consists merely of novel-like stories in short form. But the art demands its own structure”. He added that there has never been a more exciting time to be a writer in SA, but that genres need to be explored more boldly.