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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

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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Achmat Dangor “Perversely” Thanks the Apartheid Government for His SALA Lifetime Achievement Award

Strange PilgrimagesThis month, the 2015 South African Literary Awards will present Achmat Dangor with a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award.

The legendary activist, whose most recent book is Strange Pilgrimages, spoke to Morning Live presenter Samm Marshall about his literary life and what being nominated for the SALAs means to him.

Reflecting on where it all started, Dangor said the apartheid banning order that prohibited him from publishing any books or preparing any manuscripts for publication gave him the time to focus on writing.

“In many ways, perversely almost, I need to thank the South African government, the old apartheid government,” he says. “In 1973, I was part of the Black Consciousness Movement, the student movement, and I was banned for five years.

“But my spare time I devoted to my writing because I had nothing else to do.

“Every time I wrote a manuscript, in those days yes it was pen to paper, I’d even hide it. I had manuscripts in my ceiling, in friends’ ceilings, in the garden.”

Dangor was also part of a literary group called Black Thoughts that went around to schools reading banned literature to students.

Watch the video:

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The SALA ceremony will be held at the Tshwane Events Centre on 7 November, 2015:


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Highlights from the Picador Africa Classics Inaugural Twitter Town Hall, Hosted by Victor Dlamini

On Tuesday, 16 June, Victor Dlamini hosted the #PicadorAfricaClassics inaugural Twitter Town Hall, with authors Mtutuzeli Nyoka, Thando Mgqolozana, Gcina Mhlophe, Perfect Hlongwane, Nthikeng Mohlele, Siphiwo Mahala and Jo-Anne Richards.

Stories of AfricaOur Story MagicJoziSmall ThingsWhen a Man Cries

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Picador Africa Classics is committed to the preservation of African writing. Picador Africa, an imprint of Pan Macmillan SA, celebrated 10 years of publishing local and African literature in 2014 and to celebrate this milestone published 13 time-honored titles as ebooks.

PEN International board member and author Margie Orford joined the conversation, as did Andrea Nattrass, Babongile Zulu and Wesley Thompson, and many more people asked questions.

During the Town Hall the authors spoke about their books, the places that inspired them and the language of their hearts. Dlamini (@victordlamini) asked Mgqolozana (@thando_mgqo) about how place becomes a character in his books, and whether he writes to disturb the peace:

Hlongwane (@perfecthow) spoke about his life-long love affair with language and the effect that Mongane Wally Serote’s view of the city of Joburg had on his writing:

Richards reflected on the way in which she addresses social issues through fiction (@joanne_richards):

Mahala (@SiphiwoMahala) shared the Department Of Arts and Culture’s strategy in transforming the literary landscape:


Mohlele (@NthikengMohlele) revealed his love of writing in Sepedi, talked about the significance of names and reflected on the Town Hall as a whole:

In conclusion to the discussion Dlamini tweeted:


* * * * * * * *

Follow the full conversation using the hashtag #PicadorAfricaClassics:


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Picador Africa Classics Presents a Twitter Town Hall on Youth Day, Hosted by Victor Dlamini

Pan Macmillan invites you to participate in the Picador Africa Classics Twitter Town Hall in commemoration of Youth Day 2015.

The event will be hosted by Victor Dlamini (@victordlamini) and features authors Mtutuzeli Nyoka (@Dr_Nyoka), Thando Mgqolozana (@thando_mgqo), Gcina Mhlophe (@gcinamhlophe5), Perfect Hlongwane (@perfecthow), Nthikeng Mohlele (@NthikengMohlele), Siphiwo Mahala (@SiphiwoMahala) and Jo-Anne Richards (@joanne_richards).

Picador Africa Classics is an imprint of Pan Macmillan that aims to build a catalogue of exceptional titles that may be out of print or lack presence in digital form.

Follow the hashtag #PicadorAfricaClassics on Twitter and let your voice be heard!

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 16 June 2015
  • Time: 2:00 PM for 3:00 PM
  • Host: Victor Dlamini
A Hill of FoolsUnimportanceA Man Who is Not a ManHave You Seen Zandile?JoziThe Imagined Child

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Achmat Dangor Believes Undemocratic Inequality is Holding South Africa Back

Strange PilgrimagesAchmat Dangor believes inequality is the main issue preventing South Africa from becoming a successful democracy.

Dangor, author of Strange Pilgrimages and the Ford Foundation‘s representative for Southern Africa in Johannesburg, co-wrote the article for Business Day with Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.

The pair write that although basic living conditions have improved since 1994, International Monetary Fund statistics show that “half of the country’s total income goes to the top 10 percent of earners, while the bottom 20 percent of earners take in only 2.7 percent of national income”, making South Africa one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Dangor and Walker point out that the “eyes of the world” are on South Africa, not out of wariness but because there are many countries in need of ideas on how to combat the same problems.

In 2004, a decade into South Africa’s extraordinary experiment with democratic government, Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminded us that we could “kiss reconciliation and forgiveness goodbye unless the gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, is narrowed”.

Today, 10 years on, Tutu’s words ring truer than ever.

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Excerpt: Read “Skin Costs Extra” from Strange Pilgrimages by Achmat Dangor

Strange PilgrimagesAchmat Dangor tells a story of desire, alienation and betrayal in “Skin Costs Extra”, which appears in his latest short story collection, Strange Pilgrimages.

Aerodrome has shared the story in which protagonist Simon Mashaba accepts the post of Special Investment Adviser to the consulate in New York and decides to stop over in London to contact old Sussex varsity friends, before going to America where his wife is to join him.

Simon Mashaba accepted the New York posting reluctantly. It was so inopportune, barely two months after he and Nomsa had – finally – moved out of their small Soweto home into a house on a quiet, tree-lined street in the northern suburbs. He had remained faithful to his late father’s request: ‘Stay true to your roots, live among your people’, for as long as he could. It was Nomsa who had pointed out that many of his comrades in the struggle – some were now his colleagues in government – had fled the township as soon as they could. She was a professor at a prestigious university close to the city and she resented her daily commute along roads clogged with crazy ‘kombi’ taxis as a needless – Quixotic – gesture.

Despite the lingering sense of guilt, he soon came to like their new home as much as Nomsa did. It was large enough for them to have separate studies overlooking different parts of the garden. He was able to walk from his desk to a stone bench nestled in the shade of a giant old jacaranda tree with gnarled but sturdy branches that defied the wind and hardly creaked. She often fell asleep, a book clutched to her chest, beneath an older magnolia tree that flowered only in the evening, giving off a strong, womanly fragrance. At the centre of the garden water gurgled from the mouth of a metal bird standing in an ancient fountain, adding to the gentle texture of sounds.

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New Collection of Columns by Jonathan Jansen: We Need to Act

We Need to ActPan Macmillan presents a new collection of columns by Jonathan Jansen, We Need to Act:

Following the success of We Need to Talk, published in 2011, comes a new collection of Jonathan Jansen’s columns originally published in The Times newspaper. Jansen’s decidedly non-PC views are organised around four action areas critical to all South Africans: Education (schools and universities); The Future (young people and their futures); Service Delivery (stories about failures of government and institutions); and Hope (stories to inspire).

Jansen takes his inspiration from a diverse group of people – statesmen, teachers, students, children and everyday South Africans he meets – and introduces us to them through his columns. Bound to make you stop and think, and then, we hope, develop your own plans to act to change lives.

About the author

Professor Jonathan Jansen is the rector of the University of the Free State, where he has earned a formidable reputation for transformation and for a deep commitment to reconciliation in communities living with the heritage of apartheid. He is an educationalist, a former Dean of Education at the University of Pretoria, who holds an impressive collection of degrees and awards, including the position as President of the South African Institute of Race Relations. He was born in the Western Cape, and has lived in various parts of South Africa and in the United States. He is married with two children.

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Tweets from Achmat Dangor’s Discussion at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Strange PilgrimagesLiterary agent and poet Isobel Dixon attended acclaimed author Achmat Dangor’s discussion at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and tweeted from the event. In discussion with Willie Maley, Dangor talked about the devastating effect of apartheid, reading banned books during that time, his exile, as well as challenges since his return to the country of his birth.

He also read from his IMPAC Award and Man Booker Prize shortlisted book, Bitter Fruit. Dangor’s latest collection of short stories is Strange Pilgrimages.

Read Dixon’s tweets:

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Excerpt from Achmat Dangor’s Short Story “Skin Costs Extra” from Strange Pilgrimages

Strange PilgrimagesThe Mail & Guardian has shared an excerpt from Strange Pilgrimages by Achmat Dangor, taken from his short story, “Skin Costs Extra”.

We meet Simon Mashaba, who is reluctantly being relocated to New York: “He was too diffident, people said, lacking in passion, and far too willing to accede to the viewpoint of others. So, at the age of 50, he was being sent to New York to do a thankless job.”

Simon Mashaba accepted the New York posting reluctantly. It was so inopportune, barely two months after he and Nomsa had — finally — moved out of their small Soweto home into a house on a quiet, tree-lined street in the northern suburbs.

He had remained faithful to his late father’s request: “Stay true to your roots, live among your people” for as long as he could. It was Nomsa who had pointed out that many of his comrades in the struggle — some were now his colleagues in government — had all fled the township as soon as they could. She was a professor at a prestigious university close to the city and she resented her daily commute along roads clogged with crazy “kombi” taxis as a needless —Quixotic — gesture.

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Achmat Dangor Launches Strange Pilgrimages at Exclusive Books Hyde Park

Achmat Dangor

Strange PilgrimagesJoburgers came out in their numbers on Wednesday to celebrate the launch of the latest book by Achmat Dangor, Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of Bitter Fruit and former Executive Director of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Strange Pilgrimages, a collection of nine short stories, is described as an illuminating portrayal on the “struggle years” in South Africa and how the past impacts on us in a variety of ways. It offers a different take on that period of our history through the introduction of a range of characters and their journeys, both literal and metaphorical. The link between them is that each undertakes a “pilgrimage” into the past and shows the impact this has on their lives.

Terry Morris of Pan Macmillan noted that it has been ten years since the publication of Bitter Fruit and that she hopes Dangor will not keep us waiting another ten years for his next offering. She described this collection of stories as having a collective and individual impact, both entertaining and unsettling, with multi-layered sexuality evident throughout.

In his address, Dangor was quick to point out that the sexual encounters were neither gratuitous nor autobiographical! As a taste of what the stories had to offer, he read an extract from “Goodbye, Goodnight”, the last chapter of Part One, “Africans Abroad”. It deals with the trauma experienced when people who thought they knew the past find out that it’s completely different.

The narrator is a man who works in an archival institution – “Again, nothing to do with my recent job!” – who discovered that the woman he loved was a double agent, working both for the apartheid Bureau of State Security (BOSS) and a major political party. The extract described their strange meeting many years later in New York, how she abandons him in her apartment the next day, leaving a note asking him to take her cat (the Goodnight of the tale) and leave it at the Chelsea Pier. Later, back home in Johannesburg, he goes through the file on her spying activities and sends it back to the archives with the recommendation that no further action be taken. He writes a last poem to her and toasts her memory with a glass of red wine.

Ariel Dorfman has said of the book, “Rarely has the loneliness that besieges men and women after a successful revolution been treated with more tender and brutal honesty”.

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