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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Listen: Nthikeng Mohlele discusses Michael K on SAfm Literature

‘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.

Mohlele was a recent guest on Nancy Richards’s SAfm Literature Show. Listen to their conversation here:


 

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Listen: Angela Mahkolwa discusses The Blessed Girl with Sara-Jayne King

The Blessed GirlWhen you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go? Certainly not the beautiful, ambitious and super-streetsmart Bontle Tau, the girl who has used her good looks and winning charm all her life to get exactly what she wants. The lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, though, nor does maintaining the body that allows it (just ask Dr Heinz at the beauty clinic).

Luckily, Bontle has a degree in MENcology, and there is no shortage of blessers at her penthouse door, eager to give her all the love and (financial) support she needs.

Papa Jeff might be overweight and getting on a bit, and receiving some unwanted attention from the Hawks; and Teddy might not have fully come through for her on that messed-up tender business; but Mr Emmanuel, the Nigerian businessman with deep pockets and the possibility of conferring second wife status … could that be love? Keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life is not without its challenges.

With so many people clamouring for Bontle’s attention – from her shebeen queen mother Gladys in Mamelodi, who is taking strain bringing up her teenaged brother, Golokile, on her own; to her girlfriends, Iris and Tsholo; not to mention her soon-to-be ex-husband, the ever-patient, ever-loving Ntokozo, Bontle barely has time to post on Instagram these days.

Sooner or later something’s got to give …

Angela recently discussed The Blessed Girl, her fourth (!) novel, with fellow author and radio presenter Sara-Jayne King. Listen to their conversation here:

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Listen: Karabo Kgoleng discusses NR Brodie’s debut novel, Knucklebone

Just because you can see it, doesn’t mean it’s true.

 
Sangomas and cops don’t mix. Usually. But this is Joburg, a metropolis that is equal parts flash and shadow, and where not everything can be easily explained.

Ian Jack, a disillusioned former police officer, teams up with Reshma Patel, a colleague from his old life, to investigate a routine housebreaking gone bad. But when they uncover links to a possible animal poaching and trafficking syndicate, things go from complicated to dangerous to downright evil.

Set against the richly textured backdrop of a livewire African city, this fast-paced thriller offers a disturbing contemporary take on justice and morality. To be read with the lights on.

‘A cracking novel. Brilliant original writing, free of clichés. The pace is insane – in a good way.’ – Sarah Lotz, author of The White Road, Day Four and The Three .

NR BRODIE is a veteran journalist and best-selling author of five books.

Listen to 702′s book critic Karabo Kgoleng discuss Brodie’s novel with Phemelo Motene:

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“Why Life and Times of Michael K?” A Q&A with Nthikeng Mohlele

 

‘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.

Nthikeng was recently asked a few thought-provoking questions about his anticipated book; take a visual tour of the insightful interview on Pan Macmillan’s Facebook page.

Here’s a sneak peek…

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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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“It’s a sexy, sexy book!” – Eusebius McKaiser and Angela Makholwa discuss The Blessed Girl

When you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go? Certainly not the beautiful, ambitious and super-streetsmart Bontle Tau, the girl who has used her good looks and winning charm all her life to get exactly what she wants. The lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, though, nor does maintaining the body that allows it (just ask Dr Heinz at the beauty clinic).

Luckily, Bontle has a degree in MENcology, and there is no shortage of blessers at her penthouse door, eager to give her all the love and (financial) support she needs.

Papa Jeff might be overweight and getting on a bit, and receiving some unwanted attention from the Hawks; and Teddy might not have fully come through for her on that messed-up tender business; but Mr Emmanuel, the Nigerian businessman with deep pockets and the possibility of conferring second wife status … could that be love? Keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life is not without its challenges.

With so many people clamouring for Bontle’s attention – from her shebeen queen mother Gladys in Mamelodi, who is taking strain bringing up her teenaged brother, Golokile, on her own; to her girlfriends, Iris and Tsholo; not to mention her soon-to-be ex-husband, the ever-patient, ever-loving Ntokozo, Bontle barely has time to post on Instagram these days.

Sooner or later something’s got to give …

Angela recently was a guest on Eusebius McKaiser’s 702 Literature Corner show. Listen to the juicy conversation:

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Listen: Marcus Low discusses Asylum on AmaBookaBooka

AsylumBarry 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.

Low recently was a guest on Jonathan Ancer’s podcast, AmaBookaBooka. Listen to their conversation here:

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Listen: Sara-Jayne King and Sibusiso Mjikeliso discuss Being a Black Springbok

Thando Manana was the third black African player to don a Springbok jersey after unification in 1992, when he made his debut in 2000 in a tour game against Argentina A.

His route to the top of the game was unpredictable and unusual. From his humble beginnings in the township of New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, Thando grew to become one of the grittiest loose-forwards of South African rugby, despite only starting the game at the age of 16. His rise through rugby ranks, while earning a reputation as a tough-tackling lock and later open side flanker, was astonishingly rapid, especially for a player of colour at the time. Within two years of picking up a rugby ball, he represented Eastern Province at Craven Week, and by 2000 he was a Springbok.

But it isn’t solely Thando’s rugby journey that makes Being a Black Springbok a remarkable sports biography. It’s learning how he has negotiated life’s perils and pitfalls, which threatened to derail both his sporting ambitions and the course of his life.

He had to negotiate an unlikely, but fateful, kinship with a known Port Elizabeth drug-lord, who took Thando under his wing when he was a young, gullible up-and-comer at Spring Rose. Rejected by his father early in his life, Thando had to deal with a sense of abandonment and a missing protective figure and find, along the way, people to lean on.

Thando tells his story with the refreshing candour he has become synonymous with as a rugby commentator, pundit and member of the infamous Room Dividers team on Metro FM. He has arguably become rugby’s strongest advocate for the advancement of black people’s interests in the sport, and his personal journey reveals why.

As the editor of Kick Off magazine, Sibusiso Mjikeliso is one of the youngest editors of a national, monthly publication in South Africa. He has written on rugby, cricket, football and tennis for the Sunday Times, The Times, Daily Dispatch and Sowetan. He has also worked as the senior sports writer for Business Day. Mjikeliso spent time as an exchange reporter at the Sunday Mirror in London, where he wrote on Wimbledon tennis, English Premiership rugby as well as English Premier League football. His versatility as a writer and knowledge of different sporting codes has made him one of the most influential sports writers in South Africa. This is his first book.

Sibusiso recently discussed his book with Sarah-Jayne King on Cape Talk. Listen to their conversation here:


 

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Watch: Tony Park discusses The Cull on Morning Live

In The Cull, former mercenary Sonja Kurtz is hired by business tycoon Julianne Clyde-Smith to head an elite squad. Their aim: to take down Africa’s top poaching kingpins and stop at nothing to save its endangered wildlife.

But as the body count rises, it becomes harder for Sonja to stay under the radar as she is targeted by an underworld syndicate known as The Scorpions.

When her love interest, safari guide and private investigator Hudson Brand, is employed to look into the death of an alleged poacher at the hands of Sonja’s team, she is forced to ask herself if Julianne’s crusade has gone too far.

From South Africa’s Kruger National Park to the Serengeti of Tanzania, Sonja realises she is fighting a war on numerous fronts, against enemies known and unknown.

So who can Sonja really trust?

Tony recently discussed his fourteenth novel on Morning Live; watch the discussion here:

The Cull

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Watch: Zelda la Grange on typing up Mandela’s manuscript

‘I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.’
NELSON MANDELA, Long Walk to Freedom

Dare Not Linger
In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first president of a democratic South Africa. From the outset, he was committed to serving only a single five-year term. During his presidency, he and his government ensure that all South Africa’s citizens became equal before the law, and laid the foundations for turning a country riven by centuries of colonialism and apartheid into a fully functioning democracy.

Dare Not Linger is the story of Mandela’s presidential years, drawing heavily on the memoir he began to write as he prepared to finish his term of office but was unable to finish. Now, acclaimed South African writer Mandla Langa has completed the task, using Mandela’s unfinished draft, detailed notes that Mandela made as events were unfolding and a wealth of unseen archive material. With a prologue by Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, the result is a vivid and often inspirational account of Mandela’s presidency and the creation of a new democracy. It tells the extraordinary story of a country in transition and the challenges Mandela faced as he strove to make his vision for a liberated South Africa a reality.

Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, on 18 July 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies for many years before being arrested in August 1962. Mandela was incarcerated for more than twenty-seven years, during which his reputation as a potent symbol of resistance to the anti-apartheid movement grew steadily. Released from prison in 1990, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was inaugurated as the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994. He is the author of the international bestseller Long Walk to Freedom. He died on 5 December 2013, at the age of ninety-five.

Mandla Langa was born in 1950 in Durban, South Africa. After being arrested in 1976, he went into exile and has lived in Botswana, Mozambique and Angola, where he did his Umkhonto weSizwe (the armed wing of the African National Congress) military training, as well as Hungary, Zambia and the United Kingdom, where he was the African National Congress’s cultural representative. A writer and journalist, he was the first South African to be awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain bursary for creative writing, and he has been a columnist for the Sunday Independent and the New Nation. In 2007, he was the recipient of the presidential Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his literary and journalistic contribution to democracy in South Africa. He is also the author of several acclaimed novels, including The Lost Colours of the Chameleon, which won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in the African region.

Graça Machel was born in Gaza, Mozambique, in 1945. She was a member of the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) which fought for and won independence from Portugal in 1975. A teacher, human rights activist, international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, and politician, she was – from 1975 until his death in 1986 – married to Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique. She married Nelson Mandela on his eightieth birthday in July 1998. Among her numerous awards for her humanitarian work, she was a recipient of the United Nations’ Nansen Medal in 1995, and in 2007 she was made an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Here Zelda la Grange, former personal assistant to Mandela, discusses the process of typing up the manuscript of Dare Not Linger:

Zelda la Grange_soundbite from Blackwell & Ruth on Vimeo.

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