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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit back in print after more than 10 years

The last time Silas Ali encountered Lieutenant Du Boise, Silas was locked in the back of a police van and the lieutenant was conducting a vicious assault on Silas’s wife, Lydia, in revenge for her husband’s participation in Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

When Silas sees Du Boise by chance twenty years later, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is about to deliver its report, crimes from the past erupt into the present, splintering the Alis’ fragile peace.

A clear-eyed story of a brittle family on the crossroads of history and a fearless skewering of the pieties of revolutionary movements, Bitter Fruit is a cautionary tale of how we do, or do not, address the deepest wounds of the past.

‘Freshness and bold vividness are the qualities of Achmat Dangor’s writing … inn the post-apartheid era, he has tackled, in Bitter Fruit, as in Kafka’s Curse, with the honesty of his insight, the problem as well as the promised fulfilment of the enormous change that freedom brings about.’ – Nadine Gordimer

Achmat Dangor lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published four novels, Waiting for Leila (1981), The Z Town Trilogy (1990), Kafka’s Curse (1997) and Bitter Fruit (first released in 2001), as well as a short-story collection, Strange Pilgrimages (2013).

Bitter Fruit was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2004 as well as the 2003 International Dublin Impac Award. Dangor’s new novel, Dikeledi, will be released in August 2017.
 

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“I feel that as a writer, our duty is to capture the human experience” – read an interview with Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

I think a lot of novels that we have coming out that most people consider particularly African novels are expected to play on politics, on corruption, on all these things. I don’t want those to be at the forefront. They are there, obviously, and they are very dominant, like on the landscape and the scenery. But despite all this, people carry on with their lives. They are little romances in hidden corners, they have their issues with their children, and all that. This corruption, this politics, this violence, in a way it kind of shapes certain things in the way we behave and the way we act, it is not necessary that every time you have to struggle with corrupt politicians and corrupt people, but the decisions they make somewhere, so far away from you, somehow have a resonance in the way you make your decisions and the choices you make in life.

Jennifer Malec, editor of the Johannesburg Review of Books, interviewed Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, winner of the 2016 Nigeria Prize for Literature, during Ibrahim’s recent visit to Johannesburg.

Ibrahim received the Nigeria Prize for Literature for his novel Season of Crimson Blossoms.

Read their interview here and listen to Ibrahim read an excerpt from Season of Crimson Blossoms here.

Season of Crimson Blossoms

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Pan Macmillan SA to publish Peter Harris’ debut novel

Pan Macmillan South Africa is delighted to announce it will publish the debut novel of award-winning author Peter Harris. The book will be released in South Africa in October 2017.

The narrative revolves around Max Sinclair, the CEO of Wits Mining, who is in the process of selling 25% of the company to a consortium. As the deal-making gathers pace there are casualties on all sides as corporate and political intrigue spiral, and Johannesburg reveals its true colours as a gritty mining town. The novel is an acerbic exploration of post-apartheid South Africa, with a particular focus on the deepening corruption and cronyism that is threatening the country’s long-term development.

Peter Harris has gathered many accolades for his non-fiction writing. In a Different Time: The Inside Story of the Delmas Four was awarded the prestigious Sunday Times Alan Paton award as well as the Booksellers’ Choice Award in 2009. He is also the author of the best-selling Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election.

Harris was born in Durban and moved to Johannesburg after qualifying as a lawyer. In the early 1990s, he was seconded from his law firm to the National Peace Accord. Thereafter, he was seconded to head the Monitoring Directorate of South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission for the 1994 election. He currently practises as a lawyer.

Peter Harris commented: ‘In a Different Time was a book about the 1980s, and an extraordinary treason trial. It also chronicled the huge sacrifices that were made to bring about democracy in South Africa. My second book, Birth, was about the transition in the early 1990s and the extreme challenges that the country encountered in getting to and conducting the 1994 election, in the face of significant odds. This novel, located in the cauldron of Johannesburg, is about the society we have become.’

Terry Morris, Managing Director of Pan Macmillan South Africa, said: ‘It is such a privilege for Pan Macmillan to work with an author of Peter Harris’s calibre. Peter is well known for his non-fiction writing, but our team was instantly hooked by the storyline and characters of his debut novel and we look forward to sharing this gripping book with readers.’
 

In a Different Time

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New novel from South African literary legend Achmat Dangor to be published in 2017 – along with a new edition of Bitter Fruit

New novel from Achmat Dangor to be published by in 2017 with a new edition of Bitter Fruit
Strange PilgrimagesWaiting for LeilaKafka's CurseBitter Fruit

 

Pan Macmillan South Africa and Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann Literary Agency are pleased to announce that a new novel from Achmat Dangor will be published in southern Africa under the Picador Africa imprint in 2017.

In addition, a new edition of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Bitter Fruit will be published as part of the Picador Africa Classics series as well as in paperback in 2017.

Dangor is an award-winning poet and novelist whose titles include Kafka’s Curse (1997) and the 2004 Booker-shortlisted Bitter Fruit, and Strange Pilgrimages (2013), an acclaimed collection of short stories. He lives and works in Johannesburg, and was last year awarded a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award.

I am honoured that Pan Macmillan is to publish my new novel and reissue Bitter Fruit. Both books explore, through eyes of ordinary people, the unresolved legacies of our troubled past.

- Achmat Dangor

Achmat Dangor’s prize-winning, Booker-shortlisted Bitter Fruit is one of the great classics of South African literature, a searing novel still so relevant in so many ways. I’m thrilled that it will reach new readers under the Picador Africa Classics banner, and that Pan Macmillan will also be publishing an exciting new novel by Achmat next year.

- Isobel Dixon, Blake Friedmann Literary Agency

I am delighted that Pan Macmillan will have the opportunity to work with Achmat Dangor to publish his new novel in 2017, as well as to bring an absolute classic, in Bitter Fruit, back to our local bookstores and readers. Achmat’s writing is a national literary treasure.

– Andrea Nattrass, Publisher at Pan Macmillan

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‘So did you, like, bang Brenda?’ – Bongani Madondo chats about his new book Sigh The Beloved Country

Bongani Madondo

 
Sigh The Beloved CountryWriter, biographer and culture critic Bongani Madondo was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Sandton recently for a discussion of his new book Sigh the Beloved Country.

The conversation focused on a selection of topics from the book, and the subject of women dominated the evening.

70 per cent of the current book was about women, Madondo said.

“The greatest percentage of the people who obsess me, that I’m particularly interested in, the people who create magic – whether it’s song, dance, ideology, raising our children, breastfeeding white people’s children, doing everything for us – for me the centre of this world is African women. I try to figure them out,” he said to a rapturous audience.

Madondo has previously written a book on Brenda Fassie, the late South African icon, titled I’m Not Your Weekend Special.

In his new book, which runs to over 500 pages, Madondo includes an eyebrow-raising chapter titled “So Did You, Like, Bang Brenda?” – a question he says he was often asked by awestruck teenagers.

Image courtesy of Taji Mag

 
The event, which was billed as a discussion on women and the role they play in “transforming the media and branding industry”, morphed into something slightly different.

Madondo spoke of his childhood aunts and uncles, who he says went to great lengths to wear the most fashionable clothes of the time. Yet, for all their joviality, the aunts would be crying at the hands of the uncles later on. This and his watchful nature is what led him to writing, revealed Madondo.

“From a very young age, I was more like a peeping Tom. Someone who wanted to keep quiet, watch and listen,” he said.

As a failed law student and architect wannabe, Madondo turned to writing and journalism as his storytelling outlet. This led him to stints with City Press, among other local publications, as well as international publications such as The New York Times.

Madondo also talked about the “need to create a new language”. This was after he rejected the word “artsy-fartsy” to describe his miscellaneous artistic projects. “I prefer being labelled as a storyteller instead,” he said.

On the question whether journalists who occasionally appear on TV and radio turn out to be more successful than their media-shy colleagues, Madondo said: “I don’t like the word ‘famous’. It’s about the impact journalists have on society that matters, not appearing on a soapbox.”

Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the event:

 
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The God Who Made Mistakes – the powerful, poignant new novel from Ekow Duker

The God Who Made MistakesPresenting The God Who Made Mistakes, the third novel by Ekow Duker:

Behind the closed doors of their suburban Johannesburg home, Themba and Ayanda Hlatshwayo, both legal professionals, are beset by deep tensions that claw with relentless intensity at the polished facade of their lives. Ayanda seeks solace in dance classes, while Themba is increasingly drawn to the male companionship he finds at a book club.

With wit and sympathy, The God Who Made Mistakes explores the origins of Themba’s unease and confused sense of identity. It takes us back to a river bank in Alex, the township where he grew up, and to a boy he once knew who met a violent death there. As the story peels back the painful layers of recollection, Themba’s domineering mother, Differentia, has a major decision to make. When developers set their sights on buying the family home and building a supermarket in its place, tendrils of envy and greed begin to curl out of unexpected quarters, as the unscrupulous seek to grab a share of the spoils.

Backyard tenant Tinyiko, with her short skirts and questionable morality, and Themba’s disgraced, unemployed elder brother, Bongani, begin to plot and scheme, while across town Themba’s fragile marriage faces its biggest challenge. When his past walks unexpectedly into his present, it threatens to blow apart his carefully constructed world.

The God Who Made Mistakes is a powerful, poignant story of unexpressed longings which, when finally uttered, can no longer be contained.

About the author

Oil field engineer turned banker turned writer Ekow Duker was educated in Ghana, the United Kingdom, the United States and France. His time in the oil industry took him to the harsh expanses of the Sahara desert and the fetid swamps of the Niger delta, with lengthy stopovers in several countries in between. Since leaving the oil field, Duker has worked mainly as a corporate strategist and in banking, roles that, at their core, are really all about storytelling. Duker lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Duker’s previous novels are White Wahala and Dying in New York:

White WahalaDying in New York

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Excerpt from The Dream House by Craig Higginson, in celebration of the updated 2016 edition

 
The Dream HouseThe paperback edition of Craig Higginson’s The Dream House hit the shelves recently, and in celebration of this joyous occasion Pan Macmillan has shared an excerpt from the book.

This updated 2016 edition contains new content, with Higginson exploring the background to The Dream House, his varied experiences in a farmhouse in KwaZulu-Natal and the subsequent and poignant motivations for this moving novel.

The Dream House, published in 2015, was one of the novels shortlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

 
Read the excerpt, in which the author tells the story behind the inspiration for his novel:
 

* * * * *

 

The First Dream House

 
There are many houses we pass through during our lives. Maybe it’s true that they also pass through us. Some of them remain with us, and we are able to return to them long after they are gone. One such house was a farmhouse in KwaZulu-Natal, just over the hill of the boarding school I attended between the ages of ten and fourteen. This hill stood above our school like the promise of another world. It provided the title for a novel of mine – simply called The Hill – and it now lies buried under a pine plantation. Where the air was once filled with the song of stonechats, longclaws and sunbirds, there is now only silence.

     I came to know this house over the hill because on that farm were horses and my family was involved with horses. I forget the details, but I think my mother wanted to buy a horse from them – a Welsh pony, in fact – and we met them just as I was about to start at boarding school. We spent the night in that house and the next day I put on the strange new clothes for my school – a grey blazer and shorts, a black-and-white striped tie, a cap with the school logo sewn onto it and military tan shoes.

     The farmer was a man from Yorkshire originally. He had a strong impenetrable accent, pale blue eyes and was always making jokes that insinuated themselves just around the borders of my comprehension. He was forever hinting at something sexual, it seemed to me, and I tended to smile at him whenever he looked in my direction – hoping to reassure him that I was quite fine as I was and that he needn’t bother himself with me further.

     It was the farmer’s wife we were more concerned with – on that first meeting and afterwards. Even then she was a very large woman. She had a mop of frizzy greying hair, yellow teeth like bits of sweetcorn and laughing halfhidden eyes. She was also always making jokes, usually teasing me and my sister for being spoiled city kids. Actually, we lived in a very modest suburb in a very modest house, but to her we were shy, obscurely fastidious, possibly fussy children. We liked horses and dogs – and on that farm there were plenty of each – but we had never been in such a house, where the corners of every room hadn’t been entered into in decades, and where everything smelt of old leather and wet wood and leaking gas.

     I am not sure that the house made much impression on me at first as there was so much going on inside it and I must have been worried about going to a new school, but the farmer’s wife said I should come and visit them on my first Sunday out. I could come for lunch and learn how to catch a fish. I dreaded the thought of this, but no one was going to take no for an answer and my mother was probably grateful there would be someone to pick me up – on a day when many of the other boys were being picked up by muddy bakkies from the neighbouring farms where they had grown up.

     On the day in question, the farmer’s wife was there to meet me outside the school library. She was in a large cream Mercedes and even then the car was being driven by a driver – Bheki – who wore neat blue overalls and never said a word. I sat in the back between two Alsatians. She sat in the passenger seat with at least three Chihuahuas on her lap. She chattered all the way through the woods and the dark thin road that led out the school, and didn’t stop until we’d reached a dingy little shop run by an Indian man by the railway, where she gave me a few coins to go inside and buy myself some sweets. I did so, while they all waited in the car, and came back outside with my strange selection of toffees and ‘nigger balls’ and other little fruity sweets in a brown paper packet, immediately feeling that the day wouldn’t be wholly bad after all.

     I was in a daze for much of the time in those days and was probably far off and polite and eager to get my answers right. I was taken down the long dirt road that led to the farm, got out – large dogs sniffing my crotch, licking my hands, pawing at me with their mud – and joined her for tea and cake on the stoep. This ran along the front of the house, which had a shallow corrugated iron roof and resembled Karen Blixen’s house in the film version of Out of Africa, in spite of being more modest and shabbier and perhaps not quite as old. That day I went fishing with Bheki and he hooked the fish and I ran with it up the bank – exactly as it was described in this book. The only difference is that the fish was a bass, not a rainbow trout, and we did indeed kill it. There is a photograph of me wearing the clothes of some other boy who once visited their house: a red T-shirt and tight blue shorts, holding up what was in effect another man’s fish. My hair is brushed and I am standing upright, as if proud, although what I really felt at that moment is lost to me. I tend to look sceptical in photographs.

     That was the first of many such visits. In time, I would come in the afternoons – usually with a friend or two – and we would drink Coke and eat some chocolate cake and get back to school just in time for showers. The house was a secret, a bolt hole that no teacher at the school knew about.

     It was my home away from home and I loved every bit of it and the farm around it. On my weekends out, I would often spend the night – staring at the high ceiling of the spare room while outside dogs barked and eagle-owls hooted and the rain smacked against the window. I continued to fish with mixed success and started to explore the surrounding hills – where I found a cave by a stream, a waterfall and the nests of malachite sunbirds, cape eagleowls and crowned eagles. I could be happy for the day simply because I had spotted a rare kingfisher.

     I think my imagination found a home during those years. When I started writing for the first time, it was in that spare room at a little desk, lit by a hurricane lamp. When I was working as the assistant to the theatre director Barney Simon, he encouraged me to start writing a play and the play took place in that house. This would eventually become my first original play, Dream of the Dog – later revisited and extensively developed as The Dream House.

     I have farmers in my family but grew up in a bland little suburb in Johannesburg – so this place provided me with magic, with a more abundant life.

     In those days, I wanted to be a vet. I would read books about horse ailments, I would watch cows and sheep and horses coupling and giving birth. I knew the house as a cool cave on hot summer days, as a rattling tin drum during thunderstorms, as a place of damp linen and crackling fireplaces when the mist filled the valley and seemed to invade every cupboard of the house. My time there opened my heart to such writers as William Wordsworth and Ted Hughes – so that when I arrived at their great poems I knew exactly what they were talking about.

     I think the people who invited me into their home would be faintly
horrified by what I’ve made of them. The farmer’s wife would be amazed that Janet Suzman played her on London’s West End. They had no idea there was anything artistic about me. If they had known, they would have laughed at it. They have long ago passed into the darkness we have all come from – and these days it sometimes feels as if I simply imagined them. They were people of their time, increasingly uneasy in a world that was rapidly outstripping them. But they were kind to me. Most of all, they left me alone.

     They provided a starting place for my imagination – as modest and meek as it might have been – to produce a little root, take hold and quietly nose its way towards the light.

Notes:
1. A version of this piece first appeared in the October–November 2015 edition of Visi, the architecture magazine.
2. I recently came across the couples’ graves in a small churchyard near Nottingham Road. The teacher who inspired Mr Ford was also buried there. It was very strange to see the people who inspired three of my characters lying together there. I had made them love each other and hate each other in a way they never had in real life.
Their real lives were already far off – and wholly unreachable.

 
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Pan Macmillan to represent Cassava Republic Press in South Africa

Season of Crimson BlossomsBorn on a TuesdayThe Lazarus Effectnullnull
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Pan Macmillan is delighted to announce that as of July 2016 the company will represent Cassava Republic Press in South Africa.

Cassava Republic Press is a leading African publishing house and their list comprises an eclectic selection of quality literary fiction, non-fiction, crime, young adult fiction, children’s books and romantic fiction under the Ankara Press imprint. The publisher aims to spotlight the vibrancy and diversity of prose by African writers on the continent and in the Diaspora.

Their 2016 fiction list includes Elnathan John’s breathtakingly beautiful Born on a Tuesday which tackles unexplored aspects of friendship, love, trauma and politics in recent Northern Nigerian history; Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s mesmerising Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, a subtle story about ageing, friendship and loss and the erotic yearnings of an older woman; the crime novel Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms, a controversial and gripping story of an affair between a devoted Muslim grandmother and a 25-year-old drug dealer and political thug.

Cassava Republic Press has headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria with a second base in London. Since its founding 10 years ago in Nigeria, it has become a dynamic and truly international publishing house that Pan Macmillan is proud to represent.

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Don’t miss the launch of Pleasure by Nthikeng Mohlele at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of Pleasure by Nthikeng Mohlele

 

PleasurePan Macmillan is excited to announce the publication of Pleasure, the new novel by Nthikeng Mohlele.

The book will be launched in Johannesburg at Love Books on Monday, 13 June.

Details for the launch are below. Kindly let Love Books know if you will be able to attend.

Don’t miss it!
 
Event Details

  • Date: Monday, 13 June 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Melville
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: info@lovebooks.co.za, 011 726 7408

 
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Don’t miss the launch of Mohale Mashigo’s debut novel The Yearning with Zakes Mda at Exclusive Books Rosebank

Invitation to the launch of The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo

 

The YearningPan Macmillan and Exclusive Books invite you to the launch of The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo.

The launch will take place at Exclusive Books Rosebank Mall on Tuesday, 24 May.

Mashigo will be in conversation with literary legend Zakes Mda, who called the book: “A bewitching addition to the current South African literary boom.

“Mohale Mashigo tells her story with charming lucidity, disarming characterisation, subversive wisdom and subtle humour.”

Not to be missed!

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