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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

“Other than my mom, I wasn’t scared of hurting anyone.” Christy Chilimigras on Things Even González Can’t Fix

By Mila de Villiers

The Instagram-era author and her bestselling-bambino.

 
With her dark tresses partly obscured by a pashmina, sipping on a Caste Lite, a lit Camel in hand, the 24-year-old Christy Chilimigras could easily be mistaken for yet another millennial patron at Melville’s #hip Hell’s Kitchen.

But there’s more to this South African Greek gal than meets the eye.

Despite not having reached a quarter of a century yet, Christy recently wrote her memoir (yes, you read that correctly) in five and a half months (yes, you read that correctly as well.)

Published by MF Books Joburg, author and journalist Melinda Ferguson’s publishing house, Things Even González Can’t Fix is an affecting, funny and searingly honest account of Christy and her older sister’s turbulent lives as the children of drug addicts – crack, in her dad’s case; marijuana, her mother’s.

Sisonke Msimang, who’s memoir Always Another Country was recently published, encourages her pupils to “Write from your scars, not from your wounds”. I ask Msimang’s fellow memoirist whether she relates to this…

“I love that so much, I’ve never heard that before,” Christy answers in her animated, unmistakably Joburg-bred voice.

“I mean I guess, sure, to a certain extent that was the case. Like when I had the [memoir] writing course with Mel [Ferguson], she came to me on the first day and she was, like, I was the only person in this room of, like, 14 people who hadn’t cried throughout. And she was like ‘This is how I know you really need to write this book’. It’s almost like I was at a point where I could … write about everything without fucking destroying myself all over again,” she responds contemplatively.

“So, sure. I guess maybe that was it. I’ve been writing about it and been thinking about it and talking about everything for so long at that point, that then you can kinda write about it more calmly, and more objectively, I think. So, sure. I think there’s a beautiful truth in that.”

Christy was concerned that she and Melinda, a recovered heroin addict who’s own memoir, Smacked, chronicles her years of substance abuse, would bash heads over her depiction of addicts.

“I was so worried she would hate me and I was fine with that, but I mean – growing up the way I did – I really can’t stand addicts and it just triggers me immediately.

“She would – I imagine, as a recovered addict – she would hope for kindness and understanding and I’m not there yet,” she continues, lighting another cigarette.

“But she was amazing and I think she was quite refreshed by it, in a sense, because I think she’s so used to addicts gravitating towards her to speak about their stories and I was coming from the other side of it. So I think I was looking at her to understand my parents more, and she was looking at me to understand her children more.

“So it was kind of serendipitous and lovely in that way and there were no hard feelings – from either of us.”

Christy’s admiration and respect for Melinda is near-tangible, supported by Christy’s powerful statement that “if anything, she’s challenged my ideas regarding addiction.”

After a brief pause and another sip of her suip, Christy continues.

“As much as she’s written about her experiences … it’s not like a chip on her shoulder, you know? I had an addict father who, like, feels like the world owes him something because he’s been through what he’s been through and he’s ‘clean’ now,” she says, air quoting ‘clean’.

“I say ‘clean’ because I don’t know. But ja, man. She challenged me. Which was cool.”

An impassioned “I don’t know how people write books otherwise! I swear to God!” serves as definite affirmation when I ask whether Melinda’s advice to write as if the people you’re writing about are dead is in any way sound.

“It was so fucking freeing because … I mean, my mom is my biggest fan and she’s always been the most supportive person. But she’s a fragile person, too.

“And that’s one of the things I love most about her. So that was really terrifying. And just hearing that … When I finished the course I didn’t think Mel would approach me about publishing my book. I didn’t think there was a book coming from it. I didn’t event want to write memoir.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to come in, learn as much as I can, and apply to fiction’. Fuck memoir. Memoir is the worst. How self-indulgent,” she exclaims, complemented with an eye-roll to end all eye-rolls.

“It’s sad that I needed that validation and that permission from someone to say ‘just write your truth’, but I think a lot of writers need that.”

Although Christy has been writing her whole life and writing about her family her whole life, she never thought that a book would materialise. It was a “sickening compulsion that drove me insane” which drove her to pen the past to paper.

Having always considered fiction writing as a possibility, she describes it as “bizarre” that she eventually wrote an autobiographical piece, without ever having considered writing a fictionalised account of her life.

“I never thought ‘let me dissect these characters, these real-life characters in my life, and turn them into fiction’,” she furthers. “It just happened and it happened really quickly – in five and a half months! – and I just ran with it.”

As our French friends across the pond can attest to, ‘mémoire’ literally translates to ‘memory’ and while Christy might only be 24 years old, there’s a heck of a lot to remember. How, tho?

“It’s odd,” she responds after a while.

“I mean, my sister and I – we were inseparable growing up and she was my rock in a lot of ways – and us speaking in our adulthoods now, it’s quite wild in that I’ll remember two specific years with such clarity and she’s completely blanked those out.

“It’s the same with me. So in those scenarios I didn’t write about anything that I didn’t remember. When I was younger I interviewed my aunt and my mom. And my mom’s a hard nut to crack, she didn’t want to tell me a lot of things. Um…”

She ashes her cigarette before continuing.

“I just have a really fabulous memory in regards to retaining these things – and also it’s tricky to forget. There’s things that are traumatic and that you block out. And all of those I was fine to not write about. I wasn’t about to” – her eyes drift towards the somber winter sky as she considers her words – “I wasn’t about to attack my sanity to try recover things but the things that were obvious, that were just sitting there neatly and that I knew to be true, I went with those. But ja, I’m sure there’s lots else I didn’t dive into.”

If the things Christy *did* dive into could be compared to oceanic depths, the Mariana Trench would be a suitable personification thereof. She unflinchingly writes about her parents’ drug use, her own alcohol abuse, her mother’s failed relationships and her own failed relationships with not a single doekie left omgedraai.

“Other than my mom, I wasn’t scared of hurting anyone. And I know that’s a selfish thing and I am fine with that,” she honestly states.

“I’ve been screamed at by many a person who loves me, who used to love me. I’ve been told by an ex that this was a betrayal of intimacy. But I said to him you’re totally right, it is a betrayal of intimacy. I fucking get that.”

The conversation is interrupted by a backfiring motorbike. Christy, noticing me skrik‘ing, laughs and mirthfully yells “Get down!”

Lolz aside…

There were times when Christy was convinced that she couldn’t publish her memoir for fear of it being “too much”.

“It’s going to fuck me up once this book is out and everyone knows it’s about me,” she explains.

“Because as much as I turn the lens on everyone else, I think I was quite hard on myself in how much I gave away. Especially with the ending. That fucked me up so much.

“I sat on my couch and my room mate got home and she was like, ‘What is wrong?’ I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breathe, I was like, ‘I can’t publish this, my boyfriend doesn’t need to know this’. And I read it to her and she said ‘You cannot change it!’

“So you pretend to be brave. I didn’t feel brave writing this but I faked it and then eventually … Faking bravery, I suppose, has the same end-result as actually being brave and that’s what I found throughout all of this.”

A topic she unambiguously writes about is that of covert incest: from a young age, both she and her sister were subjected to sexualisation by their father, with whom Christy no longer has a relationship.

After having spoken about this at her launch, she woke up the next day to a message from a girl that she’s known for years, which read ‘Oh dear God, I didn’t know this was a thing; this is exactly what I went through’, Christy tells me.

“So actually hearing the term for it fucked her up in a big way, but in a good way. Which is exactly how I felt when I came across it online.

“But that … that form of abuse is so subtle and I think I wrote about subtly, as well.”

She stubs her cigarette out and proceeds to denounce the insensitive, in-your-face approach so prevalent in books about, or featuring, incest.

“It’s like everyone wants you to be as hectic as possible. And when I started writing, Mel was like ‘Ah! There’s this new book called The Incest Diary out, I really need you to read it’.

“Mila, it was the most traumatising thing I’ve ever done!” she cries. “Have you read it?”

An ashamed ‘no’ escapes my mouth…

“It’s wild! It’s literally – and I’m not here to bash anyone, the author stayed anonymous and I’m really glad that she did – but I was as … as a victim slash survivor slash whatever you want to call it, I didn’t find that story … really empowering. I’m sure some people did. I was like ‘is this porn for a paedophile?’” she questions.

“It was so graphic. It was really graphic and really triggering. And then I put that down and I was like ‘Oh my God, is this what Mel’s expecting of me?’ Cause I’m not ever going to be like that. I don’t see the point of traumatising women, or men, with this thing in an effort to tell my story. Abuse shouldn’t be salacious in my mind.”

Christy attaches immense value to consent and the necessity of teaching young children about this crucial aspect of relationships, acknowledging “how much we, as his sisters and as his mother, had messed up” upon finding out that her younger brother had never heard of the word before.

“I’d love to speak to women and have that discourse but I also think the conversation needs to happen at the roots of it. So in that way I’d love to – yassis! – just chat to young boys and young girls about what consent actually is.”

Penning her past wasn’t an enjoyable experience, citing that the only vaguely likable part of her narrative was writing about young Christy; the Christy who cherishes the memory of the years spent at her beloved Wendywood house with her mother and sister.

“I hadn’t really visited that in a long time and those few years in that house, when my friends speak about their childhood, I’m like ‘ja, that was it’.

“So that was really special. I felt like I was able to reconcile my child self with my current self, which I’ve been desperate to do for a very long time.”

As for everything else she wrote about?

“Deliciously painful” comes the assured answer.

“God … Memoir … God,” she laughs in disbelief. “It’s so severe. I don’t know how I put myself through that. I get to work and I’m, like, shaking and the world is still carrying on and everyone’s just talking to you about deadlines and you’re like ‘I’m bleeding here’.”

Writing Things Even González Can’t Fix was a fairly lonely process, especially as Christy chose not to disclose what she was putting in her book as “all my closest people in my life that I would have spoken to were featured in the book and then you don’t want to speak to them because you don’t want to give them the opportunity to sway you.

“I didn’t tell my mom about the hard things I was writing, because then she’d be like ‘Oh, don’t write about that. People shouldn’t know that’. So you’re almost just completely shut yourself off from everyone.”

Christy admits that there were a few hard weeks (which she expected) after her book had been read by her mom, sister and partner, adding that they didn’t really know “if they were allowed to be angry with me.

“And I was like, ‘Of course you’re allowed to be angry with me; it’s a very selfish thing I’ve done’. It’s not easy to put my sex life out there for my boyfriend, it’s not easy to put my sister’s story out because her story is my story. So it took us all a long time to compartmentalise our roles within our love. And I was, like, ‘I know you still love me even if you’re fucking furious with me right now, that’s okay’.

“So once we learned how to navigate that, they would scream at me with abandon. Never Daniel, Daniel doesn’t scream,” she quickly adds of her boyfriend of the past two years.

“But my mom! ‘Oh my God!’ And then she’d be like ‘Do you want tea? Do you want lamb? What can I make you?’ SO Greek! I swear… But amazing. My mom’s amazing.”

It wasn’t only the content of her memoir that elicited a strong response; the South African bookselling industry took issue with the original title, The tiger, the mouse and the furious masturbator.

Letting go of the title was a “really hard thing”, because it made her feel like “I’m too much,” Christy divulges.

“I really, genuinely wasn’t expecting people to be taken aback by female masturbation. And every time people would look at me and roll their eyes, I thought ‘Oh my God, what’s wrong with ME?’ Why am I so willing to have this conversation or just to exist within this fact of life, but to everyone else – even women who I know flick the bean regularly,” she pointedly adds, “they’re still so taken aback by it.

“It wasn’t losing the title that upset me,” she muses, “it was that I felt like I was doing something wrong by wanting to speak plainly…”

Christy finds it incredulous that young girls in 2018 are being told that they’re ‘filthy’ for masturbating, querying “how the fuck” one reconciles this “‘filthy’ act that is so natural when you’re actually a sexual being later in your life … So I don’t know, man.

“Like now, I’ve also realised that I’m just going to say the damn thing and continue to talk openly, and if people don’t like how comfortable I am speaking about it – this isn’t the only topic I’m comfortable about. If you’re uncomfortable about me talking about masturbation, you’ll be uncomfortable with 80% of the stuff that comes out of my mind. So we’re probably not going to be great friends any way.

“So in that way I’m like ‘Wasn’t this a quick way we can cancel each other out? We know we’re not going to bond,” she laughs. “You just go home and Netflix and I’ll just go home and masturbate.” (LOL!)

Having covered addiction, family, masturbation, sex and relationships in her debut memoir of 256 pages, one cannot help but ask: What’s Next, Ms. Chilimigras?

“According to Mel and the back of my book, I’m working on my second book,” she grins.

“I’d really, really love to try my hand at fiction. I genuinely want to. I keep waiting for that moment of waking up from a dream and having it, having this thing and that hasn’t happened yet.

“I love scrutinising romantic love, that’s something that interests me a lot. And not even sexy love, but just humans trying to fucking make shit work. So we’ll see. I’m excited.

“But, ja. Fiction. My poor family…”

There you have it!

Book details
Things Even González Can’t Fix by Christy Chilimigras
EAN: 9781928420200
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And our sunshine noir author for March is … C.M. Elliott!

A new month calls for a new sunshine noir author sending shivers down the spines of local thriller fans…

This month, the co-author of the popular Detective Kubu series, Michael Sears, had the opportunity to interview C.M. Elliott for The Big Thrill – the magazine for international thriller writers.

Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

C.M. Elliott, author of the popular Sibanda-series.

 

Here’s what the two thriller aficionados chatted about:

C. M. Elliott (everyone calls her Scotty, but she says the reason why makes too long of a story) writes a series of mystery/thrillers set in Zimbabwe near the Hwange National Park. She certainly has the perfect background for it, having spent 40 years in Zimbabwe with her game-ranger husband pioneering a tourism business based in and around the national park. She says she lived in the park continuously for 20 years “in an assortment of tents, tree-houses and bush dwellings, dodging a hodgepodge of charging elephants, rhino, buffalo and a rather angry spitting cobra” before moving to Bulawayo. Along the way, she has won literary prizes and awards, and the books have just been optioned for a TV series.

The first novel, Sibanda and the Rainbird, featuring the redoubtable Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda, was published in 2013 to an enthusiastic reception. It was followed two years later by Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth, and last year Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk was released. The books have a wonderful sense of place as a backdrop for the gritty crimes and action.

It’s clear from your writing that you have a deep knowledge of, and affection for, the people of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe. How did you come to know the area and the people there so well?

I’ve lived in Matabeleland for 40 years and most of that time has been in rural locations. I’m fascinated by people and culture and the Ndebele are a particularly warm and welcoming nation, always smiling despite recent adversities. It’s hard not to admire and store away instances of such stoicism, good humor, ingenuity, and tradition.

What motivated you to write a series of detective novels set in Gubu, a fictitious small town close to the national park?

When I started this creative journey, I hadn’t a clue what to write about, but I knew the setting was going to be the African bush. It’s no secret that Gubu is the nom de plume for Dete, a village near the park that I know really well.

Sitting in front of a blank computer screen, I set myself the exercise of writing short stories in as many different genres as I could think of. My first attempt was crime, a serendipitous pick. I never progressed to sci fi, romance, or historical et al, because I became completely engaged by my characters. They wouldn’t let go and led me on a merry dance through an entire novel!

While I was reading the book, President Mugabe was deposed after 37 years ruling Zimbabwe. Where do you think the country is going in the future under the new president?

Onwards and upwards. Anyone who watched the peaceful transition in Zimbabwe, where up to a million people took to the streets with no incidence of looting or violence and no arrests, could not fail to be moved by the determination and unfettered joy of the people. With a ground swell like that behind him our new president must succeed.

Continue reading their conversation here.
 

Sibanda and the Rainbird

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Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth

 
 
 

Sibanda and the Black Sparrow Hawk


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Do you want to write your memoir? Melinda Ferguson shares the know-how with Sara-Jayne King…

Melinda Ferguson, the author of memoirs Smacked, Hooked, and Crashed, is launching an online memoir writing course, ‘The Magic of Making a Start’.

Ferguson, an acclaimed publisher to boot, has been hosting writing workshops in both Cape Town and Joburg for the past 18 months.

She recently was a guest on fellow memoirist (Killing Karoline) and radio host Sara-Jayne King’s Cape Talk programme, during which the two discussed her digital debut.

Give it a listen!

Smacked

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Hooked
 

 
Crashed

 
 
 

Killing Karoline


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David Bristow received 174 rejection slips before Jacana published Running Wild. The Daily Maverick asked why he persevered…

Running WildFollowing in the footsteps of Jock of the Bushveld, Running Wild is an African story for all ages. It is a tale of resilience, of courage and endurance, a book that will uplift, enrich and warm every lover of the African bush.

The story of Zulu is based on the life of a real stallion that lived on the Mashatu Game Reserve. The versions of the story of Zulu are about as numerous as the people who recount them. The horse and the myth were at times indistinguishable. This account of his life has been stitched together from all those stories.

In February 2000, tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline resulted in a storm so severe that the horses of Mashatu broke out of their enclosure and roamed wild and free for days before returning. Zulu was the only one that did not return. He was thought to be lost to the scourges of the Bushveld.

Years pass before Zulu is discovered to be not only alive and well, but running as the lead stallion of a herd of wild zebras. He is recaptured and returned to the safari stables as a much bolder and wiser stallion – knowledge he passes on to the other horses as well as the humans of Limpopo Valley.

David Bristow has a degree in journalism. He is one of South Africa’s first full-time travel photojournalists and was the editor of Getaway magazine. David has written more than 20 books about Africa, taking a three-year sabbatical mid-career to earn a master’s degree in environmental sciences.

As well as travelling from Antarctica to Alaska, Hillbrow to the Himalayas, he has ridden horse safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Kenya. David now lives on a lake close to the sea near Cape Town with his partner, one cat, two surfboards, three canoes and four bicycles. He has three children and a grand one.

Upon hearing that Bristow received 174 rejection slips before Jacana okay’d his manuscript, the Daily Maverick’s Tiara Walters was intrigued as to why exactly David didn’t just. give. up. Here’s why…

DM: I don’t understand. Why not just self-publish after rejection slip number 83, for argument’s sake?

DB: I really believed in the story, simple as that. I just had to convince someone else. As soon as Jacana heard the premise, they jumped at it, smart people.

With regards to self-publishing, or not in this case, it was about shelf space and numbers. If your book isn’t housewives’ porn or young adult fantasy, you don’t want to go that route unless you are serious about selling books. Making them is the easy part. This is not my first book by a long way so it was not what they call a “vanity-publishing” exercise. But it was my first paperback, so it needed to be a commercial success. I’ve thrown a lot of marketing resources at it, from serious media launches to talks at book clubs.

I think the story of Zulu has the potential of becoming a modern-day equivalent of Jock of the Bushveld. It’s the rollicking, true story of an African stallion that bolts from his stable during the cyclonic floods of 2000, joins a dazzle of zebras in Mashatu Game Reserve and, remarkably, rises to the position of lead stallion.

DM: So what was the problem, then? Were you not photogenic enough? I heard this might be a thing in the unsparing world of contemporary publishing now.

DB: Yup, ugly as original sin. My girlfriend calls me OS (although that might just be os) (os n. Afrikaans for bovine male. Sometimes used for pulling vehicles or carrying things). But also publishing is like that well-trotted-out saying about capitalism: it’s a kak system, but it’s the best we’ve got. Which I guess is my way of saying they know nothing. The accountants and marketing people make all the decisions. And they think only in boxes (very small ones usually), like, does this book fit neatly into one of our sure-selling categories?

DM: Is Zulu the only horse ever known to have “gone” zebra? Did you look for other, um, “horsebra” stories? Perhaps it’s not entirely fanciful to picture a dazzle of zebra running wild through the Namib, displaying suspiciously desert horse-like traits.

DB: In the wilds, yes, this is unique. In captivity zebras and horses, as well as zebras and donkeys, have been crossed. Crosses were common amusements in Victorian circuses, but it was always a zebra male and female horse (zorses). The other way around is not known to ever have occurred. Not even the equine scientists could tell me why.

Continue reading their conversation HERE.

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Indentured is Rajesh Sundaram’s gripping account of his time at channel ANN7 under the power-grabbing and money-hungry Guptas

“Why Zuma?” asked Atul Gupta. “We have close relations with everyone in the ANC. If Zuma is ever ousted, I can tell you for sure that the next one in line from the ANC would be close to us as well. We are ‘Banias’, and we know how to keep our business interests protected,” Gupta added.

A senior broadcast journalist from India is headhunted to lead the team that’s been tasked to launch the latest privately owned 24-hour television news channel in South Africa. He is lured with promises of a unique professional challenge where he will have the chance to empower young black reporters to tell the stories of ordinary South Africans; train technicians in using the world’s best news gathering technology and state-of-the-art broadcast systems; and create a world-class product across the African continent.

But soon he will learn how the influential family who had hired him and the highest office in the country are inextricably linked in a bid to create a propaganda tool that will not only advance a clear political agenda, but also position itself to loot state coffers of millions of rand. This and the flagrant disregard for the law by flouting work visa regulations and exploiting young black South Africans and migrant Indian workers are but a few of the issues that made him realise that he was caught in a web of lies, deceit and political thuggery.

Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV is Rajesh Sundaram’s story of how he led a small team of Indian broadcast professionals and South African interns to launch the television news channel ANN7 under extremely tight deadlines and the power-grabbing and money-hungry mogul Atul Gupta and his cronies breathing down their necks. All this results in Sundaram quitting his job in a public spat, while his life is threatened, his health deteriorates and his continued loyalty to the vulnerable at ANN7 is tested.

GuptaLeaks gave South Africans the facts and Indentured will give the reader the understanding and depth of the true nature of the Zuma-Gupta cabal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A journalist for the past 23 years, Rajesh Sundaram holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Delhi, and has worked for top Indian and international media houses, including India Today Group, NDTV and Al Jazeera. He is well known for his expertise in launching television news stations, with seven successful launches worldwide under his belt. Sundaram currently lives in Chennai, India with his journalist wife Rashmi Sanyal and daughters, Ananya and Ahana.

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When the interviewer becomes the interviewed… Listen to Jonathan Ancer discuss Spy on AmaBookaBooka

We turn the tables in this episode of AmaBookaBooka – the interviewer becomes the interviewed; the griller the grilled; the question asker, the answer giver. I normally host the AmaBookaBooka podcast but in this episode I become the subject – and author, editor and journalist Chris Whitfield plays the role of interviewer-in-chief.

In an uncanny twist of events, Jonathan Ancer found himself at the receiving end of answering the probing, diverting, and rousing questions associated with his literary podcast, AmaBookaBooka. Yes, this episode is dedicated to Ancer’s remarkable Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson. Meta, ?

Listen to Ancer and Whitfield’s conversation about the seemingly ordinary Craig Williamson, unmasked as an apartheid spy, here:
 

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Listen: Sara-Jayne King discusses Killing Karoline with Eusebius McKaiser

Killing Karoline deals with important topical issues relating to adoption, identity, race, mental health and addiction.

Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality Act, between a white British woman and a black South African man. Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship, and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes.

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl (categorised as ‘white’ under South Africa’s race classification system) who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. It takes the reader through her formative years, a difficult adolescence and into adulthood, as Sara-Jayne (Karoline) seeks to discover who she is and where she came from.

Plagued by questions surrounding her own identity and unable to ‘fit in’ Sara-Jayne begins to turn on herself. She eventually returns to South Africa, after 26 years, to face her demons. There she is forced to face issues of identity, race, rejection and belonging beyond that which she could ever have imagined. She must also face her birth family, who in turn must confront what happens when the baby you kill off at a mere six weeks old returns from the dead.

Sara-Jayne King is a mixed-race South African/British journalist and radio presenter whose career spans over a decade and has taken her across the globe in search of remarkable stories and fascinating characters. While studying for an LLB degree in the UK, Sara-Jayne realised her passion lay elsewhere and, after graduating, she went on to complete a Master’s in Journalism in 2004. Her career began as a junior journalist in local radio in London and since then has included roles in the Middle East and Africa, most recently as a senior editor for news channel eNCA and presenter for Primedia’s talk radio station Cape Talk.

Sara-Jayne recently was a guest on Eusebius McKaiser’s Literature Corner show. Listen to their conversation here:

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Watch: Pumla Dineo Gqola discusses Reflecting Rogue, normalising freedom and undoing patriarchy on Afternoon Express

Reflecting Rogue is the much anticipated and brilliant collection of experimental autobiographical essays on power, pleasure and South African culture by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola.

In her most personal book to date, written from classic Gqola antiracist, feminist perspectives, Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food, all extremely accessible to a general critical readership, without sacrificing intellectual rigour.

These include essays on ‘Disappearing Women’, where Gqola spends time exploring what it means to live in a country where women can simply disappear – from a secure Centurion estate in one case, to being a cop in another, and being taken by men who know them.

‘On the beauty of feminist rage’ magically weaves together the shift in gender discourse in South Africa’s public spheres, using examples from #RUReferenceList, #RapeAtAzania and #RememberingKhwezi.

Reflecting Rogue takes on both the difficulties and rewards of wilfully inhabiting our bodies in ‘Growing into my body’, while ‘Belonging to myself’ uncovers what it means to refuse the adversarial, self-harming lessons patriarchy teaches us about femininity.

In ‘Mothering while feminist’ Gqola explores raising boys as a feminist – a lesson in humour, humility and patience from the inside. In ‘Becoming my mother’ the themes of fear, envy, adoration and resentment are unpacked in mother-daughter relationships. While ‘I’ve got all my sisters with me’ explores the heady heights of feminist joy, ‘A meditation on feminist friendship with gratitude’ exposes a new, and more personal side to ever-incisive Gqola.

Reflecting Rogue comes to a breath-taking end in ‘A love letter to the Blackman who raised me’.

Gender activist, award-winning author and full professor of African Literature at Wits University, Pumla Dineo Gqola has written extensively for both local and international academic journals. She is the author of What is Slavery to Me? (Wits University Press), A Renegade Called Simphiwe (MFBooks Joburg) and Rape: A South African Nightmare (MFBooks Joburg).

Here Pumla discusses normalising freedom, undoing patriarchy, and the state of South Africa’s universities with Jeannie D and Bonnie Mbuli:


 

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Listen: Raymond Suttner discusses Inside Apartheid’s Prison on Drivetime

Inside Apartheid's PrisonRaymond Suttner, author of Inside Apartheid’s Prison is one of a small number of white comrades who played a substantial in bringing apartheid to an end.

Suttner, who lives in Johannesburg, is a part-time professor at Rhodes University and an Emeritus Professor at the University of South Africa. Initially a legal academic, he later obtained an interdisciplinary PhD in history, political studies and sociology.

During the apartheid era he was jailed for his activities as an ANC underground operative, as described in this re-issued edition. His other titles include The ANC Underground (2008) and Recovering Democracy in South Africa (2015), both published by Jacana Media.
 

Suttner recently was a guest on Shafiq Morton’s Drivetime show. Listen to their conversation:

 

First published by Oceanbooks, New York and Melbourne, and University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, in 2001, Inside Apartheid’s Prison was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Alan Paton award in 2002.

In the public imagination the struggle that saw the end of apartheid and inauguration of a democratic South Africa is seen as one waged by black people who were often imprisoned or killed for their efforts. Raymond Suttner, an academic, is one of a small group of white South Africans who was imprisoned for his efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime. He was first arrested in 1975 and tortured with electric shocks because he refused to supply information to the police. He then served eight years for underground activities for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP).

After his release in 1983, he returned to the struggle and was forced to go underground to evade arrest, but was re-detained in 1986 for 27 months; 18 of these being spent in solitary confinement.

In the last months of this detention Suttner was allowed to have a pet lovebird, which he tamed and used to keep inside his tracksuit. When he was eventually released from detention in September 1988 the bird was on his shoulder.

Suttner was held under stringent house arrest conditions, imposed to impede further political activities. He however defied his house arrest restrictions and attended an Organisation for African Unity meeting in Harare, where he remained for five months. Shortly after his return to SA, when he anticipated being re-arrested, the state of emergency was lifted and the ANC and other banned organisations were unbanned.

The book describes Suttner’s experience of prison in a low-key, unromantic voice, providing the texture of prison life. This ‘struggle memoir’ is also intensely personal, as Suttner is not averse to admitting his fears and anxieties.

The new edition contains an afterword where Suttner describes his break with the ANC and SACP. But he argues that the reasons for his rupturing this connection that had been so important to his life were the same ethical reasons that had led him to join in the first place. He remains convinced that what he did was right and continues to act in accordance with those convictions.

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Sarah-Jayne King discusses Killing Karoline on Amabookabooka

Killing Karoline deals with important topical issues relating to adoption, identity, race, mental health and addiction.

Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality Act, between a white British woman and a black South African man. Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship, and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes.

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl (categorised as ‘white’ under South Africa’s race classification system) who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. It takes the reader through her formative years, a difficult adolescence and into adulthood, as Sara-Jayne (Karoline) seeks to discover who she is and where she came from.

Plagued by questions surrounding her own identity and unable to ‘fit in’ Sara-Jayne begins to turn on herself. She eventually returns to South Africa, after 26 years, to face her demons. There she is forced to face issues of identity, race, rejection and belonging beyond that which she could ever have imagined. She must also face her birth family, who in turn must confront what happens when the baby you kill off at a mere six weeks old returns from the dead.

Sara-Jayne King is a mixed-race South African/British journalist and radio presenter whose career spans over a decade and has taken her across the globe in search of remarkable stories and fascinating characters. While studying for an LLB degree in the UK, Sara-Jayne realised her passion lay elsewhere and, after graduating, she went on to complete a Master’s in Journalism in 2004. Her career began as a junior journalist in local radio in London and since then has included roles in the Middle East and Africa, most recently as a senior editor for news channel eNCA and presenter for Primedia’s talk radio station Cape Talk.

Listen to Sarah-Jayne and Jonathan Ancer’s recent Amabookabooka interview here:

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