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Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category

Kopano Matlwa Talks About Her ‘Light Bulb’ Moment

CoconutSpilt MilkEU 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.

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Obie Oberholzer Discusses the Photographic Philosophy Behind Diesel & Dust

Diesel and Dust

Diesel & DustRenowned 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.

Photographer Obie Oberholzer’s new book Diesel & Dust differs dramatically in its presentation to his classic collections.

For one thing, his trademark hand-written script and captions are missing, something that, along with a couple of other design changes, gives this book a starker appearance than its predecessors.

“My publisher in the Netherlands did a bit of a survey,” says Oberholzer, “and found that many people found my writing difficult to read.

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Photo courtesy Obie Oberholzer


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Hazel Frankel’s Illuminating Love Sheds Light on Middle Class Marriage in Contemporary SA

Illuminating LoveA 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.

About the Author

Hazel Frankel lives in Johannesburg where she works as an artist, calligrapher and teacher. She holds an MA in both Fine Arts and English from the University of the Witwatersrand, and is currently registered for a doctorate in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. A collection of poetry, Drawing from Memory, was published by Cinnamon Press (UK) in 2007. Counting Sleeping Beauties (Jacana), her first novel, was runner up for the EU Award in 2007.

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Podcast: Redi Tlabi Interviews McIntosh Polela About Revisiting Buried Pain in My Father, My Monster

My Father, My MonsterHawks spokesman McIntosh Polela was interviewed by Radio 702′s Redi Tlabi about the “lonely experience” of writing his heart-rending memoir, My father, My Monster:

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Tuelo Gabonewe’s Mixed Bag of Cultural Delights

Planet SavageThe 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.

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Thando Mqolozana’s Hear Me Alone and Siphiwo Mahala’s African Delights Launched in Johannesburg

African DelightsHear Me AloneYesterday, those who weren’t in Johannesburg for the launch of Thando Mgqolozana‘s Hear Me Alone and Siphiwo Mahala‘s African Delights missed out on a key literary event.

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”.

Mahala, Mgqolozana and Gabonewe

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.

@FionaSnyckers and @JacanaMedia tweeted from the event using the hashtag #bookslive (Note for future reference: the standard hashtag for events coverage is #livebooks). Here are a collection of their tweets and some snaps:

ThandoMgqolozanaSiphiwo Mahala

Thando Mgqolozana and Siphiwo Mahala signing books before the event

Nadine GordimerNadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer, reportedly holding a stiff whisky and asking the authors a question

Thando MgqolozanaSiphiwo Mahala

A slightly nervous Thando Mgqolozana and a more relaxed Siphiwo Mahala before the event

Here are the key tweets from the event:


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Siphiwo Mahala Discusses Wit, Humour and the Literary Influences Behind African Delights

African DelightsIn an interview in the Mail and Guardian, Siphiwo Mahala describes himself as a “literary soldier – always in combat mode”. Mahala, whose new collection of stories is titled African Delights, says he wanted to write a collection of stories that were “chronologically diverse” but “stylistically cohesive”.

The settings of the various stories range from Sophiatown of the 1950s, the rural Eastern Cape and contemporary Johannesburg. Mahala says he relied on wit and humour when writing the collection, and names Njabulo Ndebele as one of his greatest influences.

Don’t miss the launch of African Delights this Wednesday, 5 October, at Vanilla Restaurant in Rosebank.

What was the originating idea for this collection?

I wanted to celebrate my first ­decade of writing with a tribute to my ­literary influences. I am a huge fan of short-story writing and I believe South Africa boasts some of the greatest short-story writers in the world.

I grew up immersed in the short stories of Can Themba, ­Bessie Head, Arthur Maimane, Nadine Gordimer, Njabulo S ­Ndebele, Mbulelo Mzamane and so forth. In the process of writing this book I interacted with prominent writers such as Don Mattera, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Lebo Mashile, Mandla Langa, Zakes Mda, Zukiswa Wanner and Thando Mgqolozana. These are some of the creative minds that have had a lot of influence on my literary appreciation. This book is a tribute to them.

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Beverley Roos Muller Talks to Ronnie Kasrils about The Unlikely Secret Agent

The Unlikely Secret AgentIn the following interview in the Tonight, Ronnie Kasrils tells Beverley Roos Muller how a chat between an “Oxbridge ex-spy” (John le Carré) and a “Communist rough diamond from Yeoville” (Kasrils), led to a recommendation on the cover of An Unlikely Secret Agent:

Ronnie Kasrils, “Red Ronnie,” scourge of the old regime, freedom fighter and cabinet minister, biker and spy, turns out to be a likeable guy. And a dab hand at writing, too.

The Unlikely Secret Agent ,which he wrote about his wife, Eleanor (“beloved wife of 48 years”), won this year’s coveted Sunday Times Alan Paton award. Topping that, the cover carries an endorsement from the fabled writer John le Carré, praising the “courageous and extraordinary woman who was highly principled, yet endowed by nature with all the clandestine skills”.

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Joe Vaz Interviews Lauren Beukes for Something Wicked

Zoo City (SA edition)Joe Vaz, editor of Something Wicked, interviewed Lauren Beukes about the changes in her life subsequent to winning the Arthur C Clarke Award earlier this year for Zoo City. Beukes spoke about being exposed to a whole new audience (the readers of You and Beeld) and her new projects, which include a comic book series and a TV series, called Not My Super Sweet Sixteen:

The last time we did an interview with you we were both sneak-attacked. We were doing a Clarke Award interview and neither of us knew it. So this time around I get to ask the question; how does it feel to be the winner of the Arthur C Clarke award?

LAUREN: Very, very strange, I’m still getting used to it, it’s still kind of weird. When they announced it on the night, I didn’t believe them. Firstly, it didn’t register and secondly my hands were shaking for like half an hour afterwards. The next day I was terribly hung over; I’d had two hours sleep, my brother had ensured that I really did celebrate it, and I was riding the subway to meet some friends for lunch and I was thinking, “Maybe I should get off at Angel, or Highbury & Islington, that might actually be a better stop and – HOLY CRAP I WON THE CLARKE AWARD” There were just these little moments of amazingness – it didn’t seem real and then suddenly there were these bright bursts of happiness and disbelief, it was really nice.

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Lauren Beukes Explains Why She Asked Other Writers to Pen Parts of Zoo City

Lauren Beukes

Zoo City (SA edition)In a guest post for A Dribble of Ink, Lauren Beukes explains her decision to collaborate with other writers in writing parts of Zoo City, which won the prestigious Arthur C Clarke Award earlier this year. Beukes says she wanted to get away from “the dreaded info-dump”, which she explained in another article, titled “Worldbuilding through Found Objects”, as “that moment in a novel or a movie when cool insider draws the protagonist aside, usually to a bar, and explains How Things Are”. She also cites her background in the now defunct animation studio Clockwork Zoo as part of the reason why artistic collaboration comes naturally to her.

Beukes approached several of the Moxyland short story competition winners to guest write what she calls “the found objects” chapters, using contributions from Sam Wilson (who wrote the prison interviews chapter) and Charlie Human. Beukes also enlisted music journalist Evan Milton to write a magazine interview with the dodgy producer character, Odi Huron.

I’ve often joked about how much I need clones. But alas, like time machines and teleportation devices, photocopy-style human cloning just isn’t there yet (unless you believe the dubious claims of the Raelian cult). Luckily I’ve got something even better than an army of Laurenz: a collection of brilliant brains.

It would be neat if they were brains in jars, directly hooked up to word processors to churn out pages while I sleep, but I suspect that probably takes a lot of electricity and probably a mad scientist to maintain them – and mad scientists and their inevitable slobbering loathsome assistants cost a lot to feed.

Blame movies. Blame the Interwebs. Blame Alan Moore.

There are few things worse than the info-dump – that moment in a novel or a movie when cool insider draws the protagonist aside, usually to a bar, and explains How Things Are.

It was something I really, really wanted to avoid when I was writing Zoo City. But in constructing an alternate reality where something fundamental has changed in the world, I needed to show at least some of the back-story and the global ramifications of the rise of Acquired Aposymbiotic Familiarism (AAF) or the “zoo plague”.

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Photo courtesy Spling


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