Cat Hellisen has made available on Goodreads an early short story set in Hobverse, which is also the setting for her debut novel, When the Sea is Rising Red. “Heirloom Dreams” is “a love story in reverse” and takes place nine years before the events in her novel. Read the story:
This is a really old story, which I’m putting up now because I promised Tammy February.
It’s Hobverse, set about nine years before When the Sea is Rising Red, and featuring characters no-one will know except those un/lucky few who get to beta all my other Hobverse novels.
Selected from 126 entries from 17 African countries, the shortlist is once again a reflection of the Caine Prize’s pan-African reach. The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 11 July.
The following Pan Macmillan titles are included in the 2011 Caine Prize shortlist:
Tim Keegan (South Africa) ‘What Molly Knew’ from Bad Company published by Pan Macmillan SA, 2008
Chris van Wyk, author of Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch, has written a short story exclusively for the Sunday Times’ holiday edition titled, “The Girl Who Found Europe”. Enjoy:
Ronel Jacobs – long legs, sleek hair, huge brown eyes – dropped out of school in 1973 after failing grade nine three times. “Don’t worry, Ronnie girl,” her dad said, “I left school before I was 13, but look at me now!” Mr Jacobs worked at Grid Engineering in Industria. He earned R60 a week. He drove an old Ford Fairlane he had bought from his white boss’s son. He lived in a two-bedroom house with his wife and five children. He had frizzy hair, but his wife had long hair. And Ronel had the good fortune to inherit his wife’s tresses.
These were all the blessings Mr Jacobs thought about when he said: “Look at me now.”
Randall Baadjes was in love with Ronel.
One spring morning, she passed him as she walked down the aisle of the Putco bus – a peak-hour drive from the city to Riverlea. Even though they were once in the same class, she didn’t seem to notice him. And although there was an empty seat next to him, she chose to sit next to Mrs January, who was fat and overdressed and had an empty biscuit tin on her lap, her work bag and a bunch of dhania.
Randall Baadjes was slim, and this morning’s Old Spice was still doing its work beneath his Arrow shirt.
Maybe she didn’t see me, he thought. Then he remembered one afternoon in school. Geography, Mr Dramat’s class, 1972.
On the wall was a world map as big as a classroom door, and Mr Dramat stood in front of it facing the class.
Pan Macmillan SA sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading The Mistress’s Dog: Short Stories 1996 – 2010 by David Medalie, launched in May 2010. Due to an unforeseen printing error, we have had to recall all stock of this title currently in circulation with immediate effect.
As a result of this error, all stock has been removed from book stores and distributors. Pan Macmillan is arranging an urgent reprint and a corrected version of the book will be on shelves as soon as possible. We will notify you when the corrected copies are in the stores.
Please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience caused; we hope that you enjoy reading this engaging collection of short stories by award-winning author David Medalie.
After the welcome and introductions from Titlestad, who disclosed that Medalie’s Bredasdorp fans (aka Titlestad’s mother and friends) were anxiously awaiting their own copies of The Mistress’s Dog, the event began with conversation between Polatinsky and Boehmer.
Polatinsky first asked Boehmer about narrative portraiture in the short story form. Boehmer responded that her work most particularly looks at a character “who is being marked or who is masking in a certain way”. She likened the short story to “beads on a string” and referenced James Joyce’s Dubliners as a “good model to follow” saying his work is “impressionistic, expressionistic and snapshot-like”. Boehmer spoke of “the idea of a portrait arranged along the trajectory of a human life”.
Polatinsky then posed the idea that Boehmer writes with a delicate sense of representation, writing creatively in very different contexts for different audiences.
Their discussion included the challenges of writing in an academic voice and then also in the voice of fiction. Boehmer said that this demands a “constant balancing” in her life. She spoke of being aware of when one voice is drying up and then stepping back. She shared that in her writing work she tends to “wait for a voice to sound from one or other side”.
Polatinsky and Boehmer then spoke of the ideas of context and locale in Boehmer’s writing. Boehmer spoke of Munch’s The Scream and how it speaks universally to all but that seen and understood from the actual venue where it is set “the picture comes into its own”. And so with her writing, if she manages to capture “both the locale and the broad human sphere” in her stories then she feels that they are successful.
The conversation then turned to Titlestad and Medalie. Titlestad asked immediately if Medalie has a commitment to short fiction and whether he feels the short story form appeals to readers, stating that they are not often published. Medalie responded that, “Yes!”, he is indeed committed to the short story form and he finds a “sadness in the fact that very few are published, particularly in one volume by one author”. He laughingly said that the hierarchy of publishing seems to hold the novel in highest esteem with “the short story somewhere just above poetry”.
Medalie argued that the short story form is possibly “the one which South African writers have engaged with the most in the past”. He feels that this is now “dwindling away”. Medalie went on to say that this writing form is perhaps “oddly, curiously and aptly suited to our purposes, lending itself to the current indeterminacy” prevalent in South Africa today.
Medalie went on to say that the value in the short story form is in that it “demands great precision in writing”, challenging authors to find “economy in their writing – teaching them to give but not give too much”.
Titlestad then invited Medalie to comment on his writing process and how this might lend itself to the short story. Medalie said that he has found novel-writing “a very different experience” and that the short story perhaps suits him “temperamentally and aesthetically”. Not to say that he won’t write another novel though!
Challenged by Titlestad on his engagement with nostalgia, Medalie responded that he had almost unknowingly written several stories of aging. He posited that this was probably because the late stages in life appeal to him as “opportunities to reflect and think back”, to wrestle with “the reckoning of one’s life”.
In conclusion to the conversation Titlestad talked about the humanism in Medalie’s work, the sense of curiosity and reaching out to people in incongruous circumstances.
Medalie then treated guests to a reading of his short story, “Last Summer”, and Boehmer read an extract from the second story in her book. A thoroughly enjoyable way to conclude the evening.
“The emotional subtlety and structural suppleness of David Medalie’s writing are breathtaking. His insights catch the heart and transform the pallor of the everyday.”
– Elleke Boehmer
The Mistress’s Dog is an engaging new collection of twelve short stories by David Medalie, including two award winners – “Recognition” and “The Mistress’s Dog” – and a Foreword and Afterword by Michael Titlestad.
Deft, subtle and nuanced, Medalie’s stories show an accomplished and mature writer at his best. Their focus is the lived experience of people: ostensibly uneventful lives into which the unexpected erupts. These stories find significance in the reversals, ironies and coincidences of existence. They bring the characters – and the reader – to the brink of recognition.
“David Medalie’s The Shadow Follows is a beautifully-orchestrated novel, written with a mature literary touch… This kind of fiction is rare in South African writing. It is fiction that trusts the satisfactions of character and the well-made plot.”
– David Attwell
The new collection Bad Company, edited by Joanne Hichens and published by Pan Macmillan South Africa, gives us a sample of the excellent crime writing that has been bubbling up in that country for the past decade. Outside South Africa, we might know Deon Meyer and some of the classics (James McClure, Wessel Ebersohn) but we have little access to most of the writers collected by Hichens for this book. Here’s hoping that Bad Company will get a wide enough circulation to change that situation: it certainly stands up to the best of international crime anthologies (such as the excellent City Noir series by Akashic Books). There’s a wide variety of crime fiction here, from police procedurals to psychological thrillers, so there’s something for everybody.