Monday, November 11, 2019

Beguiling look into the past

Book review: The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino
It’s always interesting to see ourselves, as South Africans, reflected through another’s gaze as author Arianna Dagnino does in The Afrikaner. A multi-cultural author with roots in Italy and now resident in Canada, this novel is based on time she spent in this part of the world.
It opens in the mid 1990s. Democratic elections are over and the new ANC government is in power. It opens with a bang, literally, as Wits-based Italian palaeontologist Dario Oldani is shot in a hijacking in Johannesburg’s CBD. He was the lover of Zoe du Plessis, another palaeontologist, also based at Wits University. She is ‘the Afrikaner’ of the title and the story is focused on her after the events of the tragedy. Read more ...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The stranger at the gate

It’s ambitious to call your novel Johannesburg, for there are as many versions of this city as there are novels about it. And yet it’s what initially attracted me to this book, and to attend a talk at the South African Book Fair titled Johannesburg: A love story last month. With novelist Niq Mhlongo quizzing several writers about their literary and visceral responses to this city they call home, it included Fiona Melrose as well as Ivan Vladislavić and Harry Kalmer. 

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Author Fiona Melrose

Coming soon! Fool's Gold, a selection of Modjaji short fiction published over the years.

Travelling through Africa with a salty narrator

Hardly Working: A Travel Memoir of Sorts by Zukiswa Wanner Black Letter Media
Travelling in Africa isn’t for sissies, especially when you’re a South African/Zambian/Zimbabwean married to a Kenyan, living in Kenya, and with an 11-year-old son in tow.
Writer Zukiswa Wanner decided to travel through Africa in 2016, using local land transport, attending book events and readings, a writers’ symposium, celebrating a 40th birthday in Harare, and finally a residency, outside of the continent in Denmark. Her and her partner, Tchassa, wanted to show their 11-year-old son, Kwame, a bit of Africa – because although he was at school in Kenya, his British curriculum education left little room for African matters and stories. 

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Reg Rumney reviews Beyond Touch

I can think of no greater compliment to a poet than to say that you have read all the poems in a volume. Often, I dip into poetry books, reading some poems that look promising, or which particularly resonate, and pass over the rest. I read all of the poems in ‘Beyond Touch’ by Arja Salafranca.

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Quirky travelogue on life in an upside-down land

In Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse travel writer Sihle Khumalo casts his gaze on our rainbow nation and it’s a zoom through our country that is funny and thought-provoking.
The first leg of the journey begins at a cracking pace. And it continues that way. Taking his wife and two children they visit areas of political, historical interest such as Sharpeville and Boipatong. He writes: “Leaving Boipatong, I spotted youngsters sitting on verandas and pavements sharing 750ml beer bottles. I checked the time. It was 09:54” — and such details of the social fabric of life in SA today pepper Khumalo’s story. Woven through his visit is an account of the Boipatong Massacre that occurred in 1993. 

Journal of a Boer girl uncovers ghostly secrets

Clare Houston’s debut novel peels back the onion skin of our complicated past. 

The story of life in the British concentration camps where Boers were held isn’t often told in contemporary local fiction. Clare Houston’s debut novel, An Unquiet Place, casts a fictional light on this episode of our history.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Expertly exploring language and the scenes we create for ourselves

Local author and playwright Craig Higginson moves seamlessly between writing theatre and fiction. He also, at times, borrows from playwrighting to fuel his novels. The White Room takes its genesis from his 2012 play, The Girl in the Yellow Dress.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Twisted realities and difficult childhood tales

Kobus Moolman, known for his award-winning poetry, has released his debut volume of short fiction, The Swimming Lesson And Other Stories, a slim but varied collection of ten stories. The volume straddles the powerless found in childhood, as experienced by a disabled narrator, and the darker, more twisted, and sometimes surreal experiences of adulthood. Read more ...