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Umuzi

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

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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