Short stories, as any writer knows, are possibly the most difficult literary form. In the space of a few pages, the storyteller must condense the thoughts, feelings and actions of his or her characters and then come to a conclusion.
The Edge of Things (Dye Hard Press) edited by Arja Salafranca, herself an award-winning poet and short storyteller, gives us the best of contemporary South African writers. There are many themes with many twists.
The title story The Edge of Things by Jenna Mervis marries stark everyday South African reality to a wondrous fantasy. Arja’s own story The Iron Lung reminds us that imprisonment is not only physical but emotional and spiritual. The Company Christmas Party by Hamilton Wende is about that tender first love, and Mr Essop by Pravasan Pillay tells the story of a charming old Indian pensioner who rents a cottage on a friend’s property with unforeseen circumstances. The stories are dazzlingly diverse: funny, sad, thought-provoking and relevant. Keep them by your bed or in your bag for those school lift waits.
My debut collection of short stories, The Thin Line, was published by Modjaji Books, in 2010. My first poetry collection, A life stripped of illusions, received the 1994 Sanlam Award for poetry, while a short story, ‘Couple on the Beach’ was a winner of the same award in 1999 for short fiction. My second collection of poetry, The fire in which we burn, was published by Dye Hard Press in 2000. An anthology of prose and poetry, Glass Jars Among Trees, which I co-edited with Alan Finlay, was published by Jacana Media in 2003. My poetry is also collected in Isis X (Botsotso, 2005). I edited the anthology The Edge of Things: South African Short Fiction, published by Dye Hard Press in 2011. I am editor of the Life supplement in the Johannesburg-based The Sunday Independent.