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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

‘My mother died seven times before she gave birth to me’: Mohale Mashigo’s debut novel The Yearning – out now

The YearningPresenting The Yearning, the debut novel from Mohale Mashigo:

Yearning (noun): A feeling of intense longing for something.

How long does it take for scars to heal? How long does it take for a scarred memory to fester and rise to the surface? For Marubini, the question is whether scars ever heal when you forget they are there to begin with.

Marubini is a young woman who has an enviable life in Cape Town, working at a wine farm and spending idyllic days with her friends … until her past starts spilling into her present.

Something dark has been lurking in the shadows of Marubini’s life from as far back as she can remember. It’s only a matter of time before it reaches out and grabs at her.

The Yearning is a memorable exploration of the ripple effects of the past, of personal strength and courage, and of the shadowy intersections of traditional and modern worlds.

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.

- Zakes Mda

About the author

Mohale Mashigo was born in Mapetla, Soweto, in 1983. As well as being the award-winning singer/songwriter Black Porcelain, Mashigo is a multi-disciplinary storyteller who loves exploring the unknown. Her interests span the life of legendary story women such as Brenda Fassie, and the rich worlds created by authors such as Toni Morrison. The Yearning is Mashigo’s debut novel.

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French stamp of approval for Imperfect Solo by Steven Boykey Sidley

Ben Williams & Steven Boykey Sidley

Imperfect SoloThe French edition of Imperfect Solo by Steven Boykey Sidley has been receiving some excellent media coverage in that country, with the author being compared to heavy hitters such as Joseph Heller, Philip Roth and Richard Ford.

Published locally by Pan Macmillan in 2014, this dark comedy follows the flailing and hapless Meyer who is seeking hope and redemption as his world unravels around him. His random misfortune begs the question: Will Meyer find his grace? Can he, or we, ever?

Imperfect Solo is Sidley’s third novel and was longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

The French translation is titled Meyer et la catastrophe and published by Belfond. We love the cover, a completely different design to the local one:


Even if you don’t understand French, have a look a the incredible number of positive reviews in the French press:

French Reviews of Imperfect Solo

About the book

Meyer is filled with dread. His fading musical aspirations, his tyrannical CEO, his ex-wives, his exiting girlfriend, his ageing father, his beloved and troublesome children and his confused and bewildered life all bear witness to the sky that he is convinced will soon fall on his head.

And then it does.

This is the story of a man adrift in anxiety, ill-fortune and comic mishap, buffeted by the existential and prosaic concerns that modern life in Los Angeles inflicts. Forty years old, caught in the netherworld between the reckless optimism of youth and the resignation of age, Meyer tries to find handrails and ballast. Funny, intellectually probing and poignant, the story follows the flailing and hapless Meyer seeking hope and redemption as his world unravels around him. Surrounded by the absurdity of an ageing America, the affection of flawed but well-meaning friends and family and the randomness of everyday life, Meyer tries gamely to stay afloat.

He must navigate love lost and found and lost, the indignities of ageing, the courage to stand up to assholes and the search for the perfect sax solo. Will Meyer find his grace? Can he, or we, ever?

About the author

Steven Boykey Sidley has divided his adult life between the USA and South Africa. He has meandered through careers as an animator, chief technology officer for a Fortune 500 company, jazz musician, software developer, video game designer, private equity investor and high technology entrepreneur. He currently lives in Johannesburg with his wife and two children. Sidley’s novel Entanglement is the winner of the 2013 University of Johannesburg Prize (Debut) and was shortlisted that same year for The Sunday Times Fiction Prize and The MNet Literary Award. In 2014, Sidley’s second novel Stepping Out was shortlisted for the UJ Main Prize.

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Congratulations to Ayanda Mbanjwa, Winner of the To Quote Myself Cover Design Competition

To Quote MyselfPan Macmillan and Khaya Dlanga invited readers to submit a cover design for the new edition of To Quote Myself last month. And the winning cover has been announced!

The talented designer who has walked away with the prize is Ayanda Mbanjwa. Pan Macmillan MD Andrea Nattrass says that the competition was tough, but the overall concept of the winning design was judged to be the best.

Here is the winning cover:


Take a look at some of the contenders:


Also read

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Don’t Miss Dion Chang, Headline Speaker at the 2015 SA Innovation Summit in Cape Town

The State We're In: The 2010 Flux Trend ReviewDion Chang, corporate trend analyst and author of The State We’re In, will be the headline speaker at 2015 SA Innovation Summit.

The summit will take place from Wednesday, 26 August, to Saturday, 29 August, at the Cape Town Stadium. The event features 35 speakers and variety of events.

The first half of the event is a two day conference; tickets range from R 3 750 to R 5 985 per delegate. The second half of the summit is for the Market on the Edge Exhibition which costs R50 per delegate.

Don’t miss out!

Event Details

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SL Grey Discuss the Racial Tension and Claustrophobia in Their New Novel, Under Ground

Under GroundThe Ginger Nuts of Horror website, run by Jim Mcleod, recently did an interview with Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg, aka SL Grey, about their new novel, Under Ground.

The thriller will be released in August by Pan Macmillan, and tells the story of The Sanctum, a luxury self-sustaining underground survival facility where a group of people hide away when a global virus outbreak brings on the apocalypse.

In the interview, Lotz and Greenberg talk about their collaborative pen name and the meaning behind the surname “Grey”. They talk about the process of working together, and shares their views on the booming South African genre scene.

Turning the conversation to Under Ground, the authors discuss the racial tension and claustrophobic atmosphere prevalent throughout the book. “Claustrophobia was essential to this novel,” Greenberg says.

Read the article:

I particularly liked the scene where their hatred for another family is based the assumption that they come from China, which is the source of the deadly plague that is sweeping the world. Was this a move designed to highlight the ignorance displayed by people of hate?

L: I don’t think deliberately. It was just part of the set-up and a fairly believable reaction to that. Maybe we’re so surrounded by racism that racist characters’ views are pretty easy to channel.

S: That’s not to say we’re racist (!) just that hate-speech is becoming ubiquitous: an obvious example is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to read anything on the internet without at least one arsehole weighing in with a racist or sexist comment intended to hurt or shut someone up.

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Alex van Tonder Shares the Images and Ideas that Inspired Her Online Frankenstein in This One Time

This One TimeThis One Time is a novel about a man who creates a fake persona that becomes a monster, spawning monstrous consequences.

Author Alex van Tonder has shared some of the images and thoughts that inspired and informed her novel and its central character, Jacob Lynch.

Stephen King, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and a real-life psychopath socialite who lived in the 1800s feature in her archive. So do a number of reality TV sensations and social media fiends. Van Tonder writes: “Victor Frankenstein had to physically make a monster to make a monster, but Jacob just makes up a fake persona on the internet.”

Read the blog post:

While researching and gathering inspiration for the This One Time I collected images, ideas, scenes and quotes that evoked feelings or emotions I felt resonated with the characters, their motivations, the plot and the setting. Jacob – chained to a bed and faced with himself, with no phone or internet to distract him from himself – has to face some hard truths. Firstly, he’s been living a double life, and he’s made some mistakes. He’s got caught up in this revenge-porn and blogging and half-truths and half-naked photos and full frontal photos and sex tapes and smile-for-the-camera-with-a-product-in-your-hand and another day another party another girl in another bathroom pass the cocaine, do it all over again tomorrow, Instagram or it didn’t happen, don’t Add me on Facebook, I’ll add you, break all the rules and give no fucks lifestyle.

Except he does give a fuck. A lot of fucks. Everything he does he does for the approval of an audience – his blog following, his blog sponsors, his advertising agency, his agent, his publishers. He needs their approval, their support because that is his power. So he courts their likes, their budgets, their shares, their Tweets, their regrams. He serves them what they want: what will get clicks, likes, shares. It’s a sordid buffet. Revenge porn. Frat jokes. Party pictures. How To Be A Professional Dick manuals. Dan Bilzerian-esque selfies with bitches and beer, tits & guns. Sordid Tucker Max-style tales of sex, drugs and bastardry. The likes come in as his integrity seeps out. He sells his soul for money and fame, and in the process becomes an anti-hero, living the good life in a positively Crowlian Do-What-Thou-Wilt kind of way, a poster boy for the idea that ‘Evil pays better’.

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Thuli Madonsela Talks to The New York Times About the Nkandla Report: “The Saddest Moment of My Career”

InspiredThuli Madonsela, as Public Protector, is an important guardian of South African democracy. For this reason, she is one of the people profiled in Inspired: Remarkable South Africans Share their Stories.

Marc Shoul recently wrote an article about Madonsela for The New York Times. In it, he details the Public Protector’s investigation of security upgrades and renovations to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla.

The report was monumentally weighty, in terms of investigation work required, actual bulk, and its potential impact on South African society. In the article, Madonsela says that although she knew her report was just, she was anxious about her presentation and how it would be received.

The vitriolic backlash from the report has been serious. About being accused of being a CIA agent by Kebby Maphatsoe, Madonsela says: “It was the saddest moment of my career. That is the ANC that I grew up loving.”

Read the article:

Madonsela was appointed South Africa’s public protector by Zuma himself in 2009 and is used to controversy. Many of the thousands of cases her office handles each year are resolved through mediation, but about a fifth are “very difficult” cases, including the investigation she is now conducting into the possible diversion of funds meant for Nelson Mandela’s funeral. None, however, have been as divisive as her investigation of Zuma.

After Madonsela released the Nkandla report, she was accused of acting as a covert agent for the Central Intelligence Agency; carrying out an agenda on behalf of the mostly white opposition Democratic Alliance party; acting as she if were God; being racist toward A.N.C. voters; and overreaching her office’s powers. The Congress of South African Students, an anti-­apartheid black student organization, said her nose was ugly (it later retracted the statement). Her staff tried to hide the hate-­spewing anonymous letters that arrived from around the country. She could ignore most of the vitriol, she said, except for the accusation that she was a C.I.A. agent, made by the deputy minister of defense, Kebby Maphatsoe. “I was sad that people would stoop that low,” she said, shaking her head. “It was the saddest moment of my career. That is the A.N.C. that I grew up loving.”

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Podcast: Bongani Madondo Discusses the Captivating Power of Brenda Fassie

I'm Not Your Weekend Special“I had to do what I had to do to free myself from the stronghold she had over me,” Bongani Madondo recently told CapeTalk’s Overnight Live presenter Joonji Mdyogolo, explaining why he wrote I’m Not Your Weekend Special: Portraits on the Life + Style and Politics of Brenda Fassie.

In the interview Madondo shares more about the timing of this publication, the relevance of Fassie’s legacy today and why he was so haunted by her memory. He also offers fascinating facts and insight into the Vulindela singer’s life and discusses the impact she had on the world music scene.

“Brenda doesn’t belong to me. She doesn’t belong to Bongani Fassie. She doesn’t belong to the Fassie family. Biologically she might, but her work was larger than life. Her work, her antics, her compositions, especially in pop culture, was far beyond what any of us can create,” Madondo says, telling Mdyogolo that he wanted to capture what could be written about her in this book.

Listen to the book:


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Rian Malan: Only Julius Malema is Tough Enough to Defeat the ANC – but What Then?

Still an Inconvenient YouthIn article for the Rand Daily Mail, Rian Malan questions what Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema really values.

In the article, Malan tries to decipher Malema’s beliefs, saying that his words often jar with his actions, and even with previous statements. He mentions Fiona Forde’s biography of Malema, Still an Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema Carries On, saying it contains evidence of the intimidation tactics he used to kickstart his career with the ANC Youth League.

Malan says Malema is undoubtedly a powerful and volatile character in South African politics, but not one who is easy to understand. “In short: only Malema is tough enough to stand up to and defeat the mighty ANC,” he says. “Maybe so. But what then?”

Read the article:

Malema is also quick to present himself as a staunch constitutionalist. “The rot has eaten away the government of this country,” he said earlier this year. “The only thing left for us is the Constitution. Let us protect it with everything we have.”

Another fine sentiment, but does he really believe it?

Malema’s very first appearance in South African newspapers in 2002 involved a student protest in downtown Johannesburg that degenerated into looting and violence. According to his biographer Fiona Forde, his campaign for the ANC Youth League presidency relied heavily on intimidation. Back in 2007, when he and Jacob Zuma were still allies, he famously declared himself willing to kill on behalf of the president. There is implied violence in his support for Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe, and in his depiction of whites as “thieves who should be treated as such”. In September 2014 he was at it again, threatening to take up arms if the ANC used violence to block his rise to power.

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Ekow Duker Transcribes a Family’s History, and the Effects of Dementia

White WahalaDying in New YorkEkow Duker, author of White Wahala and Dying in New York, wrote the real-life story of his partner, Bridget Radebe, and her mother, Betty Maluleka, for the Mail & Guardian.

Mndazi Betty Maluleka was born in Louis Trichardt in 1944. She had to care of herself from a young age, as her father never came back from North Africa after World War II and her mother died of breast cancer. She became a nurse, and had two children, Mlungisi Theophylus Radebe and Ntombenhle Bridget Radebe.

Duker tells the story of Betty, who now suffers from dementia, and Bridget in the first person, interspersing the points of view of the two women over the passage of time. He handles the trials of their lives with deft sensitivity, and paints a beautiful picture of the relationship between mother and daughter.

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I was born on July 4 1944. My first recollection is of a small house in Louis Trichardt. The guide books describe Louis Trichardt as “a picturesque town at the foot of the Soutpansberg mountain range in the Limpopo province of South Africa”. I can’t imagine they’re describing the same town I grew up in. We worked for a white farmer who grew bananas and mangos on his land. It wasn’t picturesque; it was hard.

I barely remember my father. He was called up to fight in World War II and never returned from North Africa. I’d ask my mother where he’d gone but she’d shake her head and say my Shangaan name, Mndazi, and frown.

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