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Hope and Triumph at the Launch of Ekow Duker’s Dying in New York and White Wahala

Ekow Duker Book Launch

Dying in New YorkWhite WahalaThe turnout for the launch of Ekow Duker’s concurrently published debut novels Dying in New York and White Wahala was phenomenal. Friends and family of the oil field engineer-turned-investment banker-turned-author filled every nook and cranny of Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch, along with members of his creative writing group.

Arts journalist Karabo Kgoleng read an extract from Dying in New York and afterwards Duker observed, “It’s strange to hear these words spoken by someone else.”

In response to Kgoleng’s question about how it was possible for him to narrate the story in the female voice of Lerato, Duker said he found it quite easy to step into women’s shoes – although not necessarily high heels.

“When I write stories the characters become real,” he said. With Dying in New York Duker could hear Lerato’s voice clearly in his head.

Turning the conversation to White Wahala, Kgoleng said both novels look at the different elements that make up the fabric of Johannesburg social life, for example the church and healthcare services. Kgoleng said she believes White Wahala asks: What makes up the new money? Where do they come from? What makes up the Joburg youth culture?

Duker said the old money in White Wahala was inspired by his first landlord, and recalled how he used to pay his rent with a cheque.

Duker said his stories are made up of the people he has met and the places he has been to during his life-long journey growing up and living in multiple countries, including Ghana, the United Kingdom, America and now Johannesburg. “Normally when I sit down to write I have no idea where the story is going to go,” he said, adding, however, that there are stories “everywhere we look” in Johannesburg, and that Dying in New York is about more than gender-based violence, it’s a story about hope and triumph.

Duker’s editor Alison Lowry said: “From the perspective of someone from the world of books, don’t underestimate how important this writer is going to be in South African literature.”

Annetjie van Wynegaard, Michele Magmood, and others tweeted from the launch using the hashtag #livebooks:


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