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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Presenting Andrew Miller’s 2015 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award-winning Debut Novel, Dub Steps

Dub StepsJacana Media is proud to present Dub Steps by Andrew Miller – the winner of the 2015 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award:

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The plants were pushing the houses back, each millimetre of growth adding to each tendril a new triumph of organic force. In the townships progress was slower but still real, clusters reaching up and over the roofs, sporadic grass patches spiralling upwards and sideways simultaneously.

‘We’re just starting summer rains, right?’ Babalwa asked rhetorically. ‘It’s October, right? And it rains hard up here?’ We were driving through the matchbox houses of Katlehong.


‘What you reckon – two years? Three? Before everything is gone?’

About the book

Dub Steps has a strange long aftertaste. It is science fiction with ordinary characters trying to understand what it is to be alive. People have gone, suddenly, inexplicably, and the remaining handful have to find each other and start again. In that new beginning they wrestle with identity, race, sex, art, religion and time, in a remarkably realistic, step-by-step way. Nature comes back, Johannesburg becomes wonderfully overgrown, designer pigs watch from the periphery walls, and the small group of survivors have to find ways of living with their own flaws and the flaws of each other. The aftertaste comes from the surprisingly real meditations in the middle of the end: after all simulated reality has gone, what human reality is left? There are no clichés in this book, but there is plenty of humour, originality and a gripping, unusual interrogation of the ordinary but really extraordinary fact of being alive.

About the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award

The Dinaane* replaces the European Union Literary Award and as before celebrates an outstanding fiction manuscript from a debut writer. The winning manuscript is published by Jacana Media and the winner awarded a R35 000 cash prize. The Dinaane is supported by Exclusive Books’ Homebru campaign. This year, the first runner-up will also receive a significant prize: a writing bursary to the value of R20 000, in memory of Gerald Kraak, who was instrumental in the successful running of the Jacana Literary Foundation until his passing away in 2014.

The inaugural Dinaane was judged by a panel of three judges: Maureen Isaacson, Fred Khumalo and head judge Pamela Nichols. 31 manuscripts were eligible for the prize, and the judges stressed the variety of the entries received, which gave them a privileged insight into South African society and how people conceive the contemporary.

*The word ‘dinaane’ in Setswana means ‘telling our stories to one another’.

Read: Andrew Miller Wins the 2015 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award for Dub Steps

Read: Fred Khumalo: Dinaane Debut Award Finalists Disprove Leon de Kock’s Theories about SA Literature

About the author

Andrew Miller is a Johannesburg-based freelance writer. He has worked extensively in the city arts scene over the last decade, and has helped a wide range of emerging artists to develop their careers. Andrew is also a public speaker and performance poet, and has appeared on many stages across Gauteng, from business schools to the Daily Maverick Gatherings, where he discusses ideas such as urban culture, disability, death and the challenges of being South African.

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Join Stephen Clingman, with Sarah Nuttall and Jonny Steinberg, for the Launch of Birthmark at Wits

BirthmarkJacana Media and WiSER would like to invite you to the launch of Birthmark by Stephen Clingman.

When the author was two, he underwent an operation to remove a birthmark under his right eye. The operation failed, and the birthmark returned, but in somewhat altered form.

In this captivating and beguiling memoir, Clingman takes the fact of that mark – its appearance, disappearance and return – as a guiding motif of memory. This is how we remember the worlds we are born into, how they become a set of images in the mind, surfacing and resurfacing across time and space. South Africa under apartheid was itself governed by the markings of birth – the accidents of colour, race and skin. But what were the effects on the mind?

Clingman will be speaking about his book with Sarah Nuttall and Jonny Steinberg.

The event will be from 6 to 7:30 PM on Tuesday, 12 May, at the WiSER Seminar Room at Wits University.

Don’t miss it!

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Join Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja for a Panel Discussion on Challenges of Peacemaking at the Centre for the Book

A Jacana Pocket Biography: Patrice LumumbaThe Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) and Jacana would like to invite you to a public dialogue on “Challenges of Peacemaking in the Great Lakes Region”.

Professor of African Studies Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, author of the recently published Jacana Pocket Biography: Patrice Lumumba, will be joined in conversation by South African Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ntshikiwane Mashimbye; European Union (EU) Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region, Koen Vervaeke; and Former Special Representative of the United Nations and Secretary-General to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece to discuss this interesting topic.

The panel discussion takes place on Friday, 8 May, at the Centre for the Book and starts at 5:30 and finishing around 7 PM. All are welcome and entry is free. Kindly RSVP for seating.

See you there!

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Raymond Suttner Launches Recovering Democracy in South Africa With Questions, Rather Than Answers

Raymond Suttner with Rebecca Davis

Recovering Democracy in South AfricaFor the launch of his new book, Raymond Suttner was joined by fellow journalist Rebecca Davis and a roomful of interested readers and friends at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Before Suttner and Davis dove into an enlightening discussion about South Africa’s political present and Recovering Democracy in South Africa, store owner Mervyn Sloman introduced the author. Sloman outlined Suttner’s impressive credentials: he was a political leader who was imprisoned multiple times in the struggle, he has served in parliament, and he continues to contribute in important ways to South African society. Suttner has been described by J Brooks Spector as “a social and political conscience of the heirs of the liberation struggle.” Sloman suggested that this book is an example of this role.

Suttner thanked his audience for coming, and shared the story of how the book took shape. He says he never intended to write this book, but it came out of some of the topics he dealt with in columns last year. He says that he deals with a number of different themes in this book, and these all fit in to one broader theme: masculinity and the ill-effects that result from a badly gendered society. He says we need to understand the present and how we got here in order to be able to plan where we want to go.

The author pointed to the complexity of the concepts of “recovery” and “democracy,” and the importance of this in creating a unified vision that will enable South Africans, both rich and poor, to act together to remedy inequality and the undermining of the “rule of the law”. He said, “This book is presented to you as an engagement with the problems of the present. It’s a work of logic, but it’s not only the work of logic,” because pure rationality is not enough. He is troubled by the callousness of the present, and with this book he wants to bring back a “sense of passion and compassion.”

Suttner spoke about some of the questions he had gotten at previous launches. He says he recognises difficult ones immediately, as they often start with “Comrade Ray.” This is because negotiating the present in light of the ties of the past is always difficult. Suttner said that although he was not himself involved in any corruption, as a former leader, he must take some responsibility for the country’s present predicament. He thinks that the ANC in the 1990s failed to some extent to recognise the problems it would run into.

Suttner ended off his discussion by stating that South Africa’s problem is “not just Jacob Zuma. You can remove Jacob Zuma, but the relationships of patronage and corruption will still remain.” He says that South Africa’s current predicament is not an inevitable outcome of the new dispensation, and nor is this fate permanent. He does not offer the book as something that contains all the answers, but rather as a impetus for tackling difficult questions. It was in this spirit that he and Davis engaged in debate with the audience.

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Erin Devenish (@ErinDevenish811) live tweeted from the event using #livebooks:



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Raymond Suttner launched his new book in conversation with Rebecca Davis

Posted by Jacana Media on Monday, 4 May 2015



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Jani Allan Reveals What She Really Thinks About Eugene Terre’Blanche After All This Time

Jani ConfidentialJani Allan, author of Jani Confidential and former star columnist of the Sunday Times, was recently interviewed by Vivien Horler at an event at 6 Spin Street.

Anel Lewis wrote an article about it for the Daily News. In the interview Allan speaks about how daunting she found the flight back to South Africa and what she really thinks about Linda Shaw and Eugene Terre’Blanche after all this time.

Read the interview:

Allan admitted early on in the interview, billed as an “Intimate evening with Jani Allan”, that she almost didn’t get on to the plane at JFK in New York to return to South Africa after leaving more than a decade ago.

“I said to my friend, who is a cross-dresser by night and a mortgage broker by day, (and) who took me to JFK, I said to him it was the worst idea I’d ever had. Writing the book was the worst idea. I don’t interact a lot.”

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Mike Bruton Shares Adventurous Tales of an Ichthyologist at the Launch of When I was a Fish

Mike Bruton

There was no venue more fitting to launch When I was a Fish: Tales of an Ichthyologist by Mike Bruton than the Two Oceans Aquarium in late April.

As Bruton, the erstwhile director of the aquarium’s Environmental Education Centre, posed for the photographer beforehand, he pointed out the spotted grunter swimming in the I&J Predator tank. “That is one of the fishes that I caught in the Nahoon River in East London as a youth,” he said. “It stimulated my early interest in fishes.”

Mike Bruton and Patrick GarrattWhen I was a FishBruton regaled the audience with hilarious and fascinating tales from his wide experience. He was joined by his long time colleague and friend, Patrick Garratt, the managing director of the aquarium, in a conversation that held the guests enchanted.

The author spoke about a few of the reasons that had compelled him to write his biography. “Maybe it was a way of explaining to my family what I was doing when I should have been on family holidays,” he quipped wryly. “But I really feel I wrote this book because it is an extension of my passion for sharing my passion for science with scientists and non-scientists alike.”

Bruton shared various recollections of the development work in the early days of the Two Oceans Aquarium. Regarding the coelacanth, he said the work he had done with Hans Fricke led him to believe that captive study could be beneficial for the species.

Initially Fricke and he had campaigned against coelacanths being caught and displayed in captivity. This had been based on the fear of expediting their extinction. At that time they were known only to exist in South Africa and the Comoros. “We now know that they are far more widespread and common than we previously thought and have been found in Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Madagascar. There is yet another species that has been found in Indonesia.”

A great deal more about their physiology, habitat preferences, behaviour and feeding habits is now known and understood than when Professor JLB Smith discovered the species in 1938 in East London. “We are confident that they would survive in captivity,” Bruton said. “They are not sensitive to reduced water pressure in shallow water but they are sensitive to low oxygen and high light levels, which we can cater for.”

Bruton is not advocating the capture of specimens for exhibit but cited the example of a coelacanth that was caught in Tanzania and is being kept alive in a resuscitation tank.

“Many stay alive for quite a long time after being caught. If the facilities were available to be kept alive and transferred we might learn more about their habits and behaviour. I have proposed in my book that it is time for us to display and study a coelacanth in a public aquarium,” he said. The biggest challenge will be transporting them from the capture site to the host aquarium but he is optimistic that the expertise now exists to do so. “This is one of the next great adventures in South African ichthyology,” he said.

After reflecting on the various adventures he has had in his lifetime, Garratt and Bruton engaged in a rich conversation that focused, in part, on the relatively low level of attention that marine life gets in general. These two icthyologists look forward to the day when a fairer proportion of resources and effort are invested in conservation in their field. This is a book to look out for and future events promise to be worth the effort of attending.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks



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Posted by Jacana Media on Wednesday, 29 April 2015



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A Literary Biography of South Africa’s Most Distinguished Writer: JM Coetzee and the Life of Writing by David Attwell

JM Coetzee and the Life of WritingJacana is proud to present the much-anticipated JM Coetzee and the Life of Writing, by David Attwell:

JM Coetzee is one of the world’s most intriguing authors – compelling, razor-sharp and erudite; the adjectives pile up, but the heart of the fiction remains elusive. Now, in JM Coetzee and the Life of Writing, David Attwell has produced a moving, insightful biography and study of Coetzee’s work, illuminating the creation of his exceptional novels.

With exemplary care, clarity and sensitivity David Attwell shows just how illuminating a literary biography can be. - Zoë Wicomb, University of Strathclyde

Drawing on Coetzee’s manuscripts and notebooks housed in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Attwell reveals the fascinating way in which the famous novels developed, sometimes through more than 15 drafts. He shows convincingly that Coetzee’s work is strongly autobiographical, the memoirs being continuous with the fictions, and that his writing proceeds with never-ending self-reflection.

A fascinating, highly readable and tremendously insightful account of the processes through which some of the greatest novels of our time came into being. – Derek Attridge, University of York

Having worked closely with JM Coetzee on Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews and securing early access to Coetzee’s archive, Attwell is an engaging, authoritative source. JM Coetzee and The Life of Writing is a fresh, fascinating take on one of the most important and opaque literary figures of our time. This pathbreaking account will change the way Coetzee is read – by teachers, critics and general readers.

If we think of Coetzee as a cerebral writer, a weaver of clever palimpsests, then the ordinariness of his fictions’ beginnings will come as a surprise. Typically, the novels begin personally and circumstantially, before being worked into fiction. The Coetzee who emerges from his papers turns out to be a little more like the rest of us: more human or, at least, less Olympian, though only up to a point, because the question remains: if he started here, how on earth did he get there? – David Attwell

Attwell was in South Africa recently, where he gave two lectures on the subject of this book:

Read: David Attwell Reveals the Four “Surprises” he Discovered in Reading JM Coetzee’s Manuscripts

Read: David Attwell: Manuscripts Indicate JM Coetzee is Not Who We Thought He Was

David AttwellAbout the author

David Attwell, who is Professor of English at the University of York, is one of the most sophisticated critics of JM Coetzee’s novels. His own writing about Coetzee has in fact become inseparable from Coetzee scholarship (he edited the seminal book of essays and interviews with Coetzee entitled Doubling the Point). In some respects, then, JM Coetzee & the Life of Writing brings us full circle: it is as much about Coetzee’s work, as about the evolution of this important critic’s own engagement with the meaning of the novels. This point is made clear in the preface: Attwell has, after rigorous study of the manuscripts, come to realise that Coetzee’s processes of writing are at least as fascinating as the finished product. What he offers is less a biography of Coetzee the man than an intimate study of the evolution of his writing.

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Magical Stories Drawn from African Folklore by Beverley Naidoo and Piet Grobler: Who is King?

Who is King?Jacana Media is pleased to present a new offering from Beverley Naidoo and Piet Grobler, Who is King? Ten magical stories from Africa:

Who is King? Ten magical stories from Africa is the latest book from award-winning author Naidoo and illustrator Grobler. This book includes 10 stories which are drawn from the rich folklore of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, and are perfectly matched by Grobler’s wonderful illustrations. Find out what happens to Lion when he challenges Elephant and discovers who the real king of the savannah is, why Hippo has no hair, how Elephant got his trunk, and why Cockerel crows.

These beautifully written stories were originally told in one of the 2 000 languages spoken in Africa, before being translated into English. They can be enjoyed by children and parents, and they can be a fun family activity as they can be acted out with your own singing and dancing.

The book has been published in English, Sesotho, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Afrikaans in partnership with the Little Hands Trust which promotes childhood reading for enjoyment, especially development in children’s mother tongues.

About the author and illustrator

Beverley Naidoo grew up in Johannesburg. As a student she joined the resistance against apartheid, leading to detention and exile in England. Her first book, Journey to Joburg, opened a window onto South Africa for children worldwide and has now celebrated its 30th anniversary of publication. Beverley has won numerous awards including the Carnegie Award for The Other Side of the Truth. Her other books for younger children include The Great Tug of War, S is for South Africa and Aesop’s Fables.

Piet Grobler grew up in Limpopo. He obtained a Theology degree from the University of Pretoria and years later he pursued a different career path, which led him to getting an honours degree in Journalism, as well as a certificate in Graphic Design. His awards include a Golden Apple at the Biennalle for Illustration, Bratislava, the Octogone de Chene, the Premio Alpi Apuane and the IBBY Honour List. He now lectures at the University of Worcester.

Praise for Beverley’s and Piet’s previous collaboration Aesop’s Fables (Parents’ Choice Silver Award, USA; US Board on Books for Young People Outstanding International Book):

This is a stunning retelling with glorious illustrations bringing the fables alive for a new generation.
Carousel, UK

A vibrantly illustrated anthology setting the less familiar fables in Africa.
New York Times

Treat this book as a collection of easy to read stories, as a re-telling of some ancient fables, as a witty comment on talking animals, as stories to share with 6- to 60-year-olds, as lessons for living … it will not disappoint, and will draw you back again and again.
The School Librarian, UK

Naidoo and Grobler are a good pair of storytellers. His homely animals, energy and humorous details convey the stories with great fun and will be widely enjoyed for independent reading, reading aloud, and telling.
School Library Journal, USA (starred review)

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Julius Malema Explains How He Personally Raised Money for President Jacob Zuma

The Coming RevolutionJulius Malema is standing his ground in his ongoing battle with SARS – and if he has to go down he’ll be taking President Jacob Zuma with him.

The Sunday Times investigative journalists Stephan Hofstatter, Piet Rampedi and Mzilikazi wa Afrika revealed at the weekend that the EFF leader made “startling claims” in an 83-page affidavit about his personal fundraising activities for Zuma.

The subject of The Coming Revolution: Julius Malema and the Fight for Economic Freedom by Floyd Shivambu and Janet Smith explained the similarities between his Ratanang Family Trust and Zuma’s trusts and said that anonymous donors frequently deposited large sums of money into these accounts.

Malema’s lawyer, Tumi Mokoena, has asserted before that the decision by SARS to sequestrate her client is driven by “dirty politics”.

Read the article, in which Zuma denies ever receiving money from “secret donors”:

Malema said he personally raised funds for Zuma at public ANC rallies “and from unidentified donors” before Zuma became president in 2009.

There was no difference, he added, between the conduct of his Ratanang Family Trust, which bankrolled his lavish lifestyle, and that of Zuma’s trusts.

“More or less formal trust structures were formed into which donations were made – some large, some small – for the benefit of the leaders. I have first-hand knowledge of this: I dealt with donations to President Zuma. I, myself, was maintained in the same manner. Sometimes money was simply paid into my bank account by anonymous donors, sometimes known supporters paid my expenses or made gifts of money, clothes and other necessities of life and sometimes also luxuries.”

Yesterday, Zuma denied he had ever received funds from any “secret donors”. His spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said: “The president has consistently disclosed all income received in his tax returns to SARS.”

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What Can Anyone Say to Prepare Us for Parenting Teenagers? An Excerpt from Love in the Time of Contempt

Love in the Time of ContemptIn her foreword to Love in the Time of Contempt: Consolations for Parents of Teenagers, shared on pArticipate, Joanne Fedler writes about the disparity between her experience of studying parenting books and her experience of parenting.

Fedler admits that she does not “have a single qualification for writing a book about parenting teenagers”. But, after having nervously studied books enough for a dissertation, she says she decided to spend the time learning guitar and just go with it instead.

Read the excerpt:

Before childbirth, I considered myself as something of an expert on the baby-to-be. I can now confirm that there is no test that can prepare one for thirty-six hours of labour followed by a Caesarean. Or mastitis. Or colic. The books help pass the time in the ob-gyn’s waiting rooms but they’re useless at 3am when you have a screaming baby and a dried-up bosom. Likewise, what can anyone say to prepare us for parenting teenagers? All the psychology books insinuate that if we don’t get it right in the first two years of our kids’ lives, with the right amount of bonding and breastfeeding, we’ve buggered up the source code. By the time our kids are telling us to get a life, it may all just be too late. Continuing to self-flagellate with the whip of being a ‘better parent’ long into the teenage years, may in fact amount to nothing but a personal neurosis for self-improvement rather than offer any benefit to the offspring. So you’ll probably be relieved to hear that this is not another how-to book.

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