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Archive for January, 2018

Marcus Low’s Asylum shortlisted for the 2018 9mobile Prize for Literature


 
The 9mobile Prize for Literature recently announced their 2018 shortlist and local author Marcus Low’s remarkable debut novel, Asylum made the cut!

Previously known as the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the 9mobile Prize is the first ever pan-African prize celebrating first time writers of published fiction books.

The prize aims to serve as a platform for the discovery of new creative talent out of the continent and invariably promote the burgeoning publishing industry in Africa.
 

About Asylum:

 
Barry James is detained in a quarantine facility in the blistering heat of the Great Karoo.

Here he exists in two worlds: the discordant and unforgiving reality of his incarceration and the lyrical, snowy landscapes of his dreams.

He has cut all ties with his previous life, his health is failing, and he has given up all hope. All he has to cling to are the meanderings of his restless mind, the daily round of pills and the journals he reluctantly keeps as testimony to a life once lived.

And then there’s an opportunity to escape. But to escape what? And where to? Can there be a life to go back to? Is there still a world out there in the barren wasteland beyond the fence?

I was sitting in the train looking out at the falling snow. I knew then that I was not going home … I was going to an unknown place on a train full of unknown people.

And even though I knew I would not be coming back, that the factories that whooshed by were instantly hundreds of kilometres behind us, that the train would not deliver us anywhere where we’d want to be, I still felt grateful for the snow, the impossible snow.

For it seems to me that even in the most bleak of worlds we’ll find something to hold on to … even if that is something as impossible as snow in this god-forsaken wasteland.

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Phumlani Pikoli’s The Fatuous State of Severity a fresh collection of short stories that explores the experiences of young South Africans coping with the tensions of social media, language insecurities and relationships

‘Hauntingly engaging’ – Thandiwe Ntshinga, The South African

 

‘Crisp, experimental and beautifully weird’ – Phumlani S. Langa, City Press

 
The Fatuous State of Severity is a fresh collection of short stories and illustrations that explores themes surrounding the experiences of a generation of young, urban South Africans coping with the tensions of social media, language insecurities and relationships of various kinds.

Intense and provocative, this new edition of the book, which was first self-published in 2016, features six additional stories as well as an introductory essay on Phumlani Pikoli’s publishing journey.

Phumlani Pikoli is a multi-media journalist and multi-skilled artist. He was born in Zimbabwe in 1988. This is his first time being published by an actual publishing house and he intends to write and publish many more books without restriction to form.

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Use the power of motivation and good habits to become fitter, healthier and stronger – for life – with Kayla Itsines’s latest book!

Use the power of motivation and good habits to become fitter, healthier and stronger, for life!

Bikini Body Guides (BBG) co-creator Kayla Itsines, named the world’s number one fitness influencer by Forbes, shows you how to harness the power of motivation and build good habits around health and fitness.

Drawing on more than 40,000 survey responses from her global online community, as well as extensive research and her experience as a trainer, Kayla addresses what stops us from following through on our health and fitness goals.

In her second book, The Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide, Kayla explores how you can overcome those obstacles, set goals and stick to a long-term plan for better health.

Inside, you’ll find helpful checklists and templates, a 28-day meal plan, more than 200 simple and delicious recipes, shopping lists and a pullout 28-day workout poster.

 

Let global fitness phenomenon Kayla show you how YOU can stick to a plan for long-term health.

‘In this book, I give you the keys to achieving your goals and show you how to use motivation to create healthy habits that will stick.’

 

 
Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer and global fitness phenomenon with more than 15 million social media followers. She has created the world’s largest and most supportive online female fitness community, the successful BBG and BBG Stronger Workout and Eating Guides, all hosted in the renowned women’s fitness app, Sweat. She lives with her partner Tobi Pearce in Adelaide, Australia. She is the author of The Bikini Body 28-Day Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide and The Bikini Body Motivation and Habits Guide.

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The cover of Nthikeng Mohlele’s Michael K has been revealed!

 

‘Those in the know claim Michael K disembarked from a diesel-smoke-spewing truck one overcast morning, looked around, and without missing a beat, chose a spot where he set down a small bucket (red, burnt and disfigured) that contained an assortment of seedlings, some fisherman’s twine and a rudimentary gardening tool – probably self-made.’

How is it that a character from literary fiction can so alter the landscapes he touches, even as he – in his self-imposed isolation – seeks to avoid them? How is it that Michael K, bewildered and bewildering, can remain so fragile yet so present, so imposing without attempting to be so? In this response to JM Coetzee’s classic masterpiece, Life & Times of Michael K, Nthikeng Mohlele dabbles in the artistic and speculative in a unique attempt to unpack the dazed and disconnected world of the title character, his solitary ways, his inventiveness, but also to show how astutely Michael K holds up a mirror to those whose paths he inadvertently crosses. Michael K explores the weight of history and of conscience, thus wrestling the character from the confines of literary creation to the frontiers of artistic timelessness.

Michael K

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Peter Harris’s first novel rings as true as any history, writes Ray Hartley

Published in the Sunday Times

Peter Harris, more used to chronicling the facts, gives us new insights into what’s going on behind the scenes with a novel about a mining magnate, writes Ray Hartley

Bare Ground
****
Peter Harris, Picador Africa, R260

I arranged to meet Peter Harris at the restaurant 10 Bompas in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. I chose the restaurant because it was where I had met Harris before to interview him about his previous work, Birth. Like his first book In a Different Time, Birth was nonfiction, telling the story of the 1994 election. Harris had been head of the Independent Electoral Commission’s monitoring directorate and his insider’s account read like a thriller.

The book I wanted to discuss with him over lunch, Bare Ground, is a work of fiction. But so intertwined are its characters, locations and plot with contemporary South African life that it rings as true as any history. As if to confirm this, I discover while finishing the book that 10 Bompas is one of its locations, a place where dealmakers and power brokers lunch.

After we have sat down, I point out this coincidence and Harris laughs, uncertainly, as if laughing and then deciding to withdraw the laugh until he has thought it through more carefully.

“At the next table,” he says motioning with his head. I turn and, as if on cue, one of Joburg’s rougher businessmen can be seen at a table where deals are made.

I opened Bare Ground with trepidation. How would a chronicler of the transition manage the infinitely more complex task of writing fiction, which requires pace, character development and plot?

A few pages in, however, I was lost in the world Harris has conjured up. It is a world both familiar and revealing, where the powerful, greased by whisky, fuelled by steaks, embalmed in wood panelling, and blissfully ignorant of the consequences of their deeds, decide the fates of their corporations and, sometimes by accident, sometimes deliberately, that of the nation.

Harris has brought this world out of the shadows where it has lurked, largely unobserved, for the last 23 years and beyond. The set is the mining town of Johannesburg, now evolved into a place of commerce, but still carrying the rude DNA of its origins.

“Johannesburg is a central character, a living, breathing, passionate character. It’s an organism with all its contradictions,” says Harris. “You pitch up at the robots and you’ve got economic refugees from Africa. A blind guy being led by a lead. There’s a part of Johannesburg that keeps its mining town mentality. People are bribing, stealing, grabbing, pushing – 1994 did not change any of that.”

I tell him that it reads like a thriller.

“It’s the pace of Joburg and its politics. The moment that they hear there’s a deal in the offing, they come sniffing.”

The novel tells the story of one such deal in which the head of a mining house, which has come late to the empowerment party, seeks to bring aboard partners who will not threaten control, but will keep the doors to political power open.

The head of this business is Max Sinclair, a complex man with a troubled history. By the time the deal is done, lives will have been upended; some will be rich, others poor, as Sinclair orchestrates the details with a sociopathic detachment from the consequences of his actions.

“Max is cold, ruthless. Betrayal is in his blood,” says Harris.

What makes Bare Ground compelling is that Sinclair’s motivations extend beyond greed and the desire for power. There are events in his personal history that explain his choices and his emotional isolation.

I ask Harris if his is a bleak world. He is anxious to dispel the notion. There are characters, he points out, who are not prepared to sell their souls. One such character will find himself tested to the limit as the deal unfolds. He is a human rights lawyer, and an adviser to the rich and powerful.

It is possible to see real people in these characters – or bits of real people cut apart and reassembled so that they are not immediately recognisable. Harris’s own background as a human rights lawyer and one who has witnessed the churning wheels of post-apartheid power first-hand shows in the authenticity of these characters. In a Different Time and Birth documented the recent past. He has managed the transition from nonfiction to fiction so seamlessly that Bare Ground seems the logical third book on the state of contemporary South Africa.

Harris has avoided proselytising and has maintained the pace and complex development required of a thriller.

“You can’t give a state of the nation by banging on a drum,” he says. @hartleyr

Bare Ground

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An inspiring account of the DPSC and how ordinary people came together to stand up against racism and the abuse of power

The Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC) was started in 1981 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was set up by the parents, spouses and families of activists who were detained and had no recourse to legal intervention. Many in this movement had not been politically involved.

Members of the DPSC stood on the street corners with placards calling for the release of their children. They organised food, clothing and legal representation for detainees across the country, and they supported the detainees’ families. DPSC activists marched, petitioned, argued, wrote and protested for the release of all detainees. They made public the brutal operations of the security establishment.

The DPSC helped to draw international attention to the atrocities being perpetuated against children – some as young as nine – by the apartheid state. And the evidence amassed by the DPSC helped to lay some of the groundwork for South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The Knock on the Door tells the story of the DPSC and of how the anti-detention movement became part of the mass uprising that brought down apartheid. It is an inspiring account of ordinary people coming together to stand up against racism and the abuse of power.

Terry Shakinovsky is a journalist who has been deployed across the world. She holds a postgraduate degree in History. A former student and United Democratic Front (UDF) activist who worked with the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC), she is now the publications coordinator at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection in Johannesburg.

Sharon Cort holds degrees in English, Fine Arts and Psychology. In recent years, she has worked as a researcher, curator and writer for various museums and heritage sites, including Constitution Hill and Freedom Park. In 2011 she co-authored One Law, One Nation: The Making of the South African Constitution with Lauren Segal.

Lauren Segal holds postgraduate degrees in History and Film and Television Studies. She has written several books and is currently a director of an exhibition and design company, as well as a curator and heritage consultant. She and Sharon Cort have worked together on numerous projects, including co-authoring One Law, One Nation. She was the project manager and content editor on The Knock on the Door.

Book details

  • The Knock on the Door: The Story of The Detainees’ Parents Support Committee by Terry Shakinovsky, Sharon Cort
    EAN: 9781770105799
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