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Video: Mike Nicol on WH Auden, Cape Town and Why He Doesn’t Favour the Police Procedural

BBC Radio 4 recently chatted to crime fiction author Mike Nicol about his stories which “expose the shady underside” of sunny South Africa.

Power PlayOf Cops and RobbersBlack HeartKiller CountryPayback

Nicol speaks about Cape Town as the perfect setting for his stories and says he’s tried to capture the spectacular beauty of the mountain and the two oceans in contrast with the apartheid geography of the city.

Nicol says that writing a crime novel is a way to deal with social and political issues without being too academic about it. He argues that the people who inherited the country are beginning to use it as a personal cash till and quotes WH Auden to explain why it is important to look to the past for answers on the present situation: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”

Watch the video to find out why Nicol doesn’t favour the trend in crime fiction of the police procedural:

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Nelson Mandela Would Have Been Ashamed by Violence Against Foreigners – George Bizos

Odyssey to FreedomAdvocate George Bizos, prominent human rights lawyer and lifelong friend of Nelson Mandela‚ says the attacks on foreigners were not triggered by xenophobia but a deep hatred for foreigners.

He said late former president Mandela would have been ashamed by the violence against foreigners.

“We are dealing here with hatred for foreigners … I am pleased that the majority of people of South Africa‚ universities‚ human rights organisations and schools have stood up to put an end to this hatred of foreigners‚” Bizos said.

He added that it had never occurred to him that South Africans “could display such cruelty against their brothers and sisters”.

Bizos was speaking in Pretoria on Thursday at a Unisa debate on the state of ethics 20 years after the country’s attainment of freedom and democracy.

He said he was pleased that it was only a few who committed crimes against foreigners‚ saying fellow Africans provided refuge for South African freedom fighters and supported the struggle against apartheid.

Bizos said people who stood against the attacks on foreigners did so at the great risk to their own personal safety‚ saying it is their ethical barometer that told them it was the right thing to do.

He said that‚ since his family came to South Africa from Greece as refugees‚ he knew how it felt to be a foreigner‚ away from family and friends and confronted by a language he could not speak.

“Fortunately we were welcomed with open arms‚” said Bizos, whose remarkable life is recorded in the autobiography Odyssey to Freedom.

Over the past three weeks‚ South Africa has been struggling to contain xenophobic attacks that began in KwaZulu-Natal and spread to various parts of the country, and which have claimed seven lives.

The government has since deployed the National Defence Force to help police restore order and stem the spread of the attacks.

RDM News Wire

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International Book Deal Signed for The Raft by Fred Strydom

The RaftUnited States publisher SkyHorse Publishing has acquired the rights to publish South African author Fred Strydom’s highly anticipated novel The Raft in North America.

The Raft, which was published by Umuzi in South Africa at the beginning of April, was the subject of a multi-party auction, with SkyHorse securing the rights just ahead of the London Book Fair.

Editor Cory Allyn of Skyhorse Publishing said of this captivating debut novel: “It’s Lost meets Life of Pi meets The Road.”

Strydom’s novel is set in a world where humankind has lost its memory in a single, devastating moment. For the novel’s main character, Kayle Jenner, all that is left of his past are the haunting visions of a boy he believes to be his son. Jenner embarks on a voyage across a broken world to find the boy. What he discovers on his journey is breathtaking.

The deal was negotiated by Aoife Lennon-Ritchie of the Lennon-Ritchie Agency.

Strydom, who currently works as a television writer and producer, lives in Johannesburg.

Don’t Miss the Launch of The Raft by Fred Strydom in Cape Town, with Máire Fisher, tonight!

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Image: Jurgen Marx-Badenhorst

You Always Know the Bogeyman: Excerpt from Johan Vlok Louw’s Border War Novel Eric the Brave

Eric the BraveNamibiana Buchdepot has shared an excerpt from Johan Vlok Louw’s debut novel Eric the Brave.

Eric the Brave centres around the South African Border War, and the shame and silence that remain long after the last bullet was fired.

At the launch of the book, Louw revealed how he had worked on the manuscript for about 20 years, and originally meant to write a lighthearted romp about a national serviceman stationed on the border. However, it soon became apparent to him that the story needed to show the Border War for what it really was.

On the Land Rover they sit three to a bunk facing each other. Some knees are touching, there’s kit all over; they’re nobody to each other yet. Eric stares at the sky. Some guy is looking at him. Nothing’s established. Funny how you can feel it – how you know the bogeyman. They shoot over the taxiway and onto a sandy track next to a barbed-wire fence; there are tall security lights up. The corporal sits working the thinly rimmed wheel up front – this way, that way. That 20-mill’s going again. Dud-dud-dud-dud-dud-dud-dud! Off to the left they pass a bunkered pimple underneath a stubby watch-tower, some tents there pitched in behind a sandbag wall. A couple of very relaxed-looking guys in black PT shorts about, waving. The corporal waves back. “Bravo,” he shouts, “that’s Bravo bunker!”

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See All the Existing Covers for Charlie Human’s Books, Including New US and Japanese Editions

Apocalypse Now NowKill BaxterLondon-based literary agency Zeno, who represent the wonderful speculative fiction author Charlie Human, has shared the US and Japanese covers for Human’s breakout novel, Apocalypse Now Now.

Four translations of this incredible debut have been published – including Bokveld binnekort in Afrikaans, and Turkish, Italian and Japanese – and the US and UK each have their own edition, with a unique cover.

Have a look at the Japanese cover, which stands out among the others as the artist has taken a completely different approach. 鋼鉄の黙示録 was published in Japan last month by Tokyo Sogensha:

The cover for the US edition, which was published by Titan Books last week, looks very similar to the local one, with minor changes:

Zeno has created a nice image to show the different faces of Apocalypse Now Now:

Kill Baxter, Human’s riveting sequel in which Baxter Zevcenko has to try to save the world from the apocalypse, again, was released in the UK this month and will soon be released in the US too. See the three different covers:

Read reviews of Apocalypse Now Now and Kill Baxter

‘It’s mad, dark, irreverent and wonderfully twisted in all the right ways.’ — Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls

‘I don’t even know how to describe reading this book, so just look at my wide eyes and my silently mumbling mouth and take my shell-shock as a good sign that you need to read this book right now.’ — Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds

‘With a wild imagination and savage glee, Charlie Human throws us into a school yard battle zone that’s part teenage wasteland, part Lovecraft fever dream. Rock and Roll High School meets the apocalypse.’ — Richard Kadrey, author of Sandman Slim

‘Brilliantly entertaining.’ — British Fantasy Society
‘… a riot – a firebomb of a novel, exploding with sick humour, violence and depravity… it’s never less than very funny, and the ongoing question of Baxter’s sanity adds a degree of mystery. There’s warmth here, too – you’ll likely feel sympathy for Bax by the end.’ — SFX Magazine

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Penguin Random House to Publish New Paige Nick Novel

Paige NickPenguin Random House South Africa has bought rights to publish well-known columnist and author Paige Nick’s new novel in South Africa.

Nick is an award-winning advertising copywriter, wrote highly popular columns for the Sunday Times and is the author of the acclaimed novels A Million Miles From Normal and This Way Up. A selection of the Sunday Times columns and the letters they inspired was recently published as Pens Behaving Badly (win a copy here!).

A Million Miles from NormalThis Way UpPens Behaving Badly

She made her international debut as part of Helena S Paige: the pen name for the writer trio Paige Nick, Sarah Lotz and Helen Moffett, who wrote a series of choose-your-own-adventure erotic novels, now published in 21 countries.

Nick’s new novel, to be published in March 2016, is titled Dutch Courage, and follows the fortunes of a South African schoolteacher as she is forced to stand in for her injured sister as a Rihanna impersonator at a “Cabaret Bar” in Amsterdam. Little does she know that she will be working at Legends – a strip club with a difference, where celebrity impersonators bare all by night and live together in a crowded apartment by day.

Fourie Botha, publisher of local fiction at Penguin Random House, says: “Paige has the golden touch. Dutch Courage is a complete delight and we’re so happy to be working with her.”

The deal was brokered by agent Oli Munson from AM Heath in London. Munson says: “I couldn’t be happier that Paige’s fresh, funny fish out of water novel will be published by Penguin Random House. Looking at the vigour of their list, It really is the most perfect of fits.”

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Candid Conversation by Convivial Candlelight to Launch A Slim, Green Silence by Beverly Rycroft

Bev Rycroft

As the sun went down and the lights went out, candles were lit and refreshments carried upstairs at The Book Lounge to accommodate unanticipated loadshedding. Guests mingled in the convivial atmosphere, getting their books signed in anticipation of the conversation that would soon take place. Author Beverly Rycroft, an award-winning poet, was celebrating the launch of her debut novel, A Slim, Green Silence. Rycroft was joined in a terrific conversation about writing the novel by fellow poet and novelist Finuala Dowling.

Finuala Dowling and Bev RycroftA Slim, Green SilenceIn his welcome, The Book Lounge owner Mervyn Sloman said A Slim, Green Silence was an absolutely wonderful book “with not a word out of place”. He said the book was so compelling that he felt he had spent quite a few days wandering the streets of the fictional Scheepersdorp and now knew the neighbourhood in the novel better than his own.

Dowling focused her attention on the cover, which is terrifically evocative and lush. Rycroft concurred that it makes one think of the garden of Eden, thus echoing the overtones of the novel. She said she was delighted with the artwork.

Reflecting on the process of writing a book, which takes careful thought about time and point of view, Dowling asked, “Had you known right in the beginning that you were going to write a circadian novel – one that takes place in just a day – or did it emerge over several drafts?” Rycroft said the novel had taken her eight years to write, arriving as an urgent story that had clamoured to come out. She said,”I just started writing it without planning, but as I read and re-read Virgina Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, I realised it was the perfect vehicle for telling Connie’s story. A circadian novel with flashbacks enables the character to remember things,” said Rycroft.

“It was also my state of mind at the time, which was circular and striated. I experienced my own life as past, present and future, all at the same time,” she said. Rycroft referred to her experience of a life-threatening illness. Her experience is documented in her poetry collection, Missing, which won the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize in 2012. She said the idea of the novel came to her in the wake of surviving the prospect of death. Facing her own mortality had given her a sense of being outside of her life. “I could feel like a ghost in my own house,” she said.

Rycroft spoke with care of the writing process and the content of the novel that had been informed by her earlier experience. One of the startling encounters had been with a doctor who handed her her own x-rays, as a way of forcing her to encounter the diagnosis she had been given.

The conversation at the launch was wonderfully frank and powerful, and punctuated with the subtle understated wit.

Nobody present was left in any doubt that this is a novel to buy and read eagerly and an author to watch with interest.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:



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Beverly Rycroft launched A Slim Green Silence with Finuala Dowling

Posted by Books LIVE on Friday, 17 April 2015



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Don’t Miss the Launch of The Raft by Fred Strydom in Cape Town, with Maire Fisher

The Raft launch

The RaftUmuzi and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to the launch of The Raft by Fred Strydom.

Strydom will be speaking about his novel, a must-read about a man’s quest to find his son in a world without memory, with author Máire Fisher.

The launch will be at The Book Lounge at 5:30 for 6 PM on Thursday, 23 April.

See you there!

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SJ Naudé, Mamphela Ramphele en Griekwastad: Hanlie Retief deel haar top tien onderhoude

OraniaByleveldAlfabet van die voëlsHanlie Retief – een van die land se mees gerespekteerde joernaliste en outeur van Orania en Byleveld – het onlangs tien onderhoude wat haar altyd sal bybly uit die argief gaan haal om met Netwerk24-lesers te deel.

Die bekendes met wie sy gesels het wat die grootste indrukke op haar gelaat het sluit in Mike Bolhuis, Mamphela Ramphele, SJ Naudé (oor sy bekroonde boek, Alfabet van die voëls, die laaste houtkappers van die Knysna-bos, die Sondag-verkragter se vrou, en Don Steenkamp van Griekwastad.

“Party sal jou laat lag, ander sal jou hartsnare roer – maar min sal jou koud laat,” lees die inleiding van die artikel.

Volg die skakel om die stories te lees:

30 Oktober 2011: My man, die Sondag-verkragter

Hanlie sê:

​Ek dink ek het haar net op die regte oomblik gevang, en toe sê sy ja vir die storie. Sy het ‘weggekruip’ by familie aan die Weskus. Haar voorwaarde was dat sy nie herken moes word op die foto’s nie. Cornél van Heerden het fantastiese foto’s in die winkelsentrum se parkeergarage geneem. Dit was al keer wat sy met die media gepraat het. Ons het steeds kontak, dit gaan baie goed met haar en haar kind.


Don’t Miss Beverly Rycroft’s Talk on Writers and Writing at the Wynberg Library in Cape Town

A Slim, Green SilenceBeverly Rycroft, author of A Slim, Green Silence, will be giving a talk about writing and the works that have inspired her.

The presentation is called “Switching to silence: eight years to write a novel” and will be at the Wynberg Library at 6 PM on Tuesday, 21 April.

Rycroft will speak about her favourite authors, finding the right creative space to work in and why writing her debut took eight years.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 21 April 2015
  • Time: 6 PM
  • Venue: Wynberg Library
    Wynberg | Map
  • More information: Wynberg Library, 021 797 9178

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