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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

We Need New Names Characters Return in NoViolet Bulawayo’s Story “Happy Birthday Africa President”


We Need New NamesThe day before Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe turned 90, the Munyori Literary Journal published a short story by NoViolet Bulawayo titled “Happy Birthday Africa President”, featuring characters from her debut novel We Need New Names.

The day after the story was published, Bulawayo was announced the winner of the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature. She won the Caine Prize in 2011 and last year We Need New Names was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award.

In “Happy Birthday Africa President”, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Stina discuss the posters of their president that have popped up all over the place, announcing his 90th birthday. The narrator, who is possibly Darling, thinks to herself that her grandfather, who isn’t even close to 90, looks far older than this man with his “fresh and finely polished” skin: “if you could buy skin, his would be expensive none of us would afford it.”

Bulawayo introduces a new character, Brother Nkululeko, who gets into an argument with Stina over their differing views of government officials:

We get to Number 10 to find the president raising fists all over. On the big wall around the power station that caught fire last Sunday, on the tall gates of the blue Zioja church, on the fat pole where we sometimes play spin, on the shed where Clifford cuts hair, on the durawall that surrounds the tuck-shops where old ladies sit selling all sorts of stuff, on the sides of the shed where people wait for combis to town, on the trees along the main road—the posters are everywhere. We stand in a huddle by the power station wall and tilt our heads and look at the posters one by one even though they are exactly the same.

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Image courtesy The Chronicle Herald


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Video: Diane Awerbuck Reads from Her Short Story, “Duwweltjie”

Home RemediesLast year’s Bloody Parchment event, which was part of HorrorFest, took place at The Book Lounge. Diane Awerbuck gave a reading from her short story, titled “Duwweltjie”, which is about disease.

“It’s about a family, the mother’s had her tongue operated on, which they still do, by the way. If you get tongue cancer they just cut it off,” Awerbuck says before reading from the story. Her latest novel is Home Remedies.

Watch the video:

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SJ Naudé oor sy literêre invloede, die boeke wat hy lees en die roman waaraan hy werk

Alfabet van die voelsSJ Naudé is onlangs met die Jan Rabie en Marjorie Wallace-skrywersbeurs ter waarde van R350 000 beloon vir die potensiaal wat hy getoon het met ‘n voorgestelde roman. Die Burger het met hom gesels oor hierdie boek waaraan hy nou werk, die skrywers wat hom beïnvloed en die ewig-moeilike vraag: “Hoekom skryf jy?”. Hierop antwoord hy: “Ek is bang as ek uitvind, hou ek dalk op.”

Naudé, outeur van die bekroonde kortverhaalbundel Alfabet van die voëls, noem dat daar te veel boeke op sy bedkassie lê. Onder die boeke wat vir hom loer is Open City van Teju ­Cole, Kaar van Marlene van Niekerk, Deborah Levy se Black Vodka en Christopher Isherwood se Goodbye to Berlin. Hy span nou sy skrywersbeurs in om te werk aan ‘n roman “oor ’n sukkelende Suid-Afrikaanse filmskoolstudent in Londen” wat afspeel “in die lang skadu van ’n skendende stuk Europese geskiedenis”.

Hoekom skryf jy?

Ek is bang as ek uitvind, hou ek dalk op. Miskien om voortdurend iets binne of buite mensself te probeer verander? (Uit die literêre geskiedenis blyk dit eersgenoemde het ’n groter kans op sukses as laasgenoemde.) Om so outentiek as moontlik te probeer kommunikeer? Nuanses eers fyn te kalibreer voordat die seine uitgestuur word? (Die teenoorgestelde van uit die heup uit skiet.) Om jou te verbeel dat jy ’n ideale gemeenskap help skep, bestaande uit lesers en skrywers?

Vir wie skryf jy?

Soms vir myself, soms vir mense wat mens liefhet, soms vir magshebbers waarvoor mens kwaad is (maar wat jou sekerlik nooit sal lees nie). Eindelik vir enigiemand wat by jou sensibiliteite aanklank vind.

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SJ Naudé gesels oor die Jan Rabie en Marjorie Wallace-beurs en sy beoogde roman

Alfabet van die voelsSJ Naudé, skrywer van die kortverhaalbundel Alfabet van die voëls, het onlangs die Jan Rabie en Marjorie Wallace-skrywersbeurs ter waarde van R350 000 in ontvangs geneem. Die konsep vir ‘n beoogde roman wat Naudé aan die beoordelaars voorgelê het, het hulle laat besluit om hierdie beurs – die grootste in die land – aan hom toe te ken. Dit sal hom in staat stel om aan die roman te kan werk.

Die voorgestelde roman gaan onder meer oor “‘n sukkelende Suid-Afrikaanse filmskoolstudent in Londen, ‘n soektog na ‘n verlore vroeë Duitse film in Berlyn, ‘n stormagtige liefdesverhouding, ‘n sonsverduistering en ‘n industriële rock band. Alles in die lang skadu van ‘n skendende stuk Europese geskiedenis,” het Naudé in ‘n onderhoud met Naomi Meyer van LitNet gesê:

Hallo Fanie, baie geluk met die toekenning van die Jan Rabie Marjorie Wallace-beurs. Die grootste skrywersbeurs in die land! Laat ek afskop met die vraag op almal se lippe: Hoe voel mens as so ’n beurs jou te beurt val?

Dankie, Naomi. Verrassing was my eerste reaksie. En ek is bly en dankbaar. Dit is ‘n seldsame geleentheid, en nie net in Afrikaans en Suid-Afrika nie. Behalwe dalk vir ‘n handjievol gevestigde internasionale skrywers, is dit ongewoon in enige taal en land om ‘n kans te kry om vir ‘n lang tyd – ononderbroke en ongesteurd deur die daaglikse sleur – aan ‘n ernstige roman te werk. Dit is natuurlik ook ‘n verantwoordelikheid. Ek ervaar ‘n gesonde graad van ontsag in die aangesig van die taak wat voorlê, veral as ‘n mens Jan Rabie en Marjorie Wallace se kulturele nalatenskap en hul gulheid van gees in gedagte hou. ‘n Mens sal ook graag die vertroue wat die UWK en die beurskomitee in ‘n mens stel, waardig wil wees.

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Video: Graham Riach Discusses “The Post-apartheid Short Story” on Cambridge PhDcasts

The latest episode of the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities’ Cambridge PhDcasts features Graham Riach discussing “The Post-apartheid Short Story” with John Gallagher. Riach, who started his PhD on the contemporary South African short story at Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 2011, begins by discussing the origins of the written short story in South Africa, which he says started appearing around the mid 1800s and tended to be fireside tales of adventures, written in an oral style.

The Loss Library The One That Got AwayYou Can't Get Lost in Cape TownHoming

The reading list Riach used for the discussion includes Missing Persons, Propaganda by Monuments & Other Stories and The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories by Ivan Vladislavić, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town and The One That Got Away by Zoë Wicomb and Shark’s Egg and Homing by Henrietta Rose-Innes.

Watch the discussion:

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Monique Mortlock Notes the Themes of Death and Memory in The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories

The Ghost-Eater and Other StoriesMonique Mortlock attended the launch of the e-book The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories, where some of the 31 contributors spoke about their short stories in the anthology. “Although each story is uniquely different, the themes of death and memory run through the book, tying them together,” Mortlock notes in an article for LitNet.

She quotes Jolyn Phillips (“Fraans”), Sandra Hill (“By Any Other Name”), Tembi Charles (“Long Life”) and Bronwyn Douman (“The Embrace”) about their contributions.

One thing about bookworms: they do not let anything deter them from some time with fellow literature lovers. This was proven at the launch of The Ghost-Eater and other stories on Sunday, 8 September at Warren Editions Project Space (just around the corner from The Book Lounge). Although it was a cold and wet afternoon in the Mother City, over thirty people crowded into the small art studio.

The event formed part of the annual Open Book Festival which has been underway since the 7th of September and ended on the 11th of September.

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The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories Excerpts: “In Mozambique” by Olivia Walton and “Long Life” by Tembi Charles

The Ghost-Eater and Other StoriesThe Ghost-Eater and Other Stories, a collection of 31 short stories by up-and-coming authors, edited by Diane Awerbuck and Louis Greenberg, was released last month by Umuzi as an ebook. Dip into the collection with the following two stories: “Long Life” by Tembi Charles and “In Mozambique” by Olivia Walton.

“Long Life”, shared by O, the Oprah Magazine, is set in Zimbabwe, as the protagonist, returning to the country, is confronted by hunger and poverty. In “In Mozambique”, published by Aerodrome, travellers take a boat from Malawi, across the lake, to a town in Mozambique where they befriend a small boy.

I experienced hunger – the lack of food – for the first time in my life when I travelled home to Zimbabwe after a couple of years. This was in the year 2004. I stayed in Harare, the capital city, for about two weeks. I reacted very badly to hunger; to poverty. To me, hunger is poverty and poverty is hunger. The two go together; they are one and the same thing. For those two weeks, I lived on pizza, simply because I refused to pay the ridiculously high prices for food. I did not understand how a burger could cost Z$15 000. My mind refused to accept this. So for the two weeks I was there, I ate pizza day in and day out. This cost me about Z$4 000 a day. Somehow, mentally, I could accept that price. I suppose the pizza was cheaper because there was hardly anything on it, just a bit of cheese and tiny pieces of chicken.

The town where the boy died is indistinct. Once or twice a week a bakkie comes and people who want to go to the bigger towns and the train climb on and go south. And once or twice a week a boat comes from the islands in the lake. The town has a church and two doctors, both American. The government sends nothing. There are no road signs. We stayed there just one night; on the day we left, he died.

We arrived from one of the islands with no map and so I do not know the name of the town. People told me the name, I am sure, but in the heat and in my desire just to be there and in the blur of all the towns and all the people, I have forgotten it. We came across the lake from Malawi where the towns were dense and loud. This town in Mozambique was not like that.

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The Release of The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories Celebrated at Open Book with Diane Awerbuck and Louis Greenberg

Ghostly Cupcakes

The Ghost-Eater and Other StoriesIt was not your regular book launch. Never could be that.

A spectral vessel, the good ship Ghost-Eater had berthed in the Cape Town harbor, bearing staggering stories of loss and love, memory and redemption pitched against the swell. It then ploughed into the choppy waters and soon it was aloft. Its course led through the windows of Warren Editions Project Space, and out again, leaving ghostly cupcakes to fortify the editorial collaborators, Diane Awerbuck and Louis Greenberg, and the 31 contributors to the latest publishing phenomenon in South Africa, The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories.

Diane AwerbuckLouis Greenberg

At the launch of this e-book collection of short stories, a fitting addition to the programme of the 2013 Open Book Festival, the compiler, Diane Awerbuck, who provided vegan chocolate chili brownies to blow your head off, said these stories were amongst the best she’d read anywhere. “They are world class,” she said.

Project editor, Fourie Botha, said the event was the first of its kind in South Africa. “How utterly amazing to have so many real people present to celebrate this virtual accomplishment.” Editor, Louis Greenberg, beamed at all who had gathered and recommended the cupcakes as further evidence of the real generosity of the creative spirit that went into the publication.

Writers whose works appear in the collection include Mia Arderne, Daniel Berti, Leila Ruth Bloch, Lien Botha, Tembi Charles, Faith Chaza, Bronwyn Douman, Genna Gardini, Sandra Hill, Ilze Hugo, Conrad Kemp, Wanjiru Koinange, Nadia Kamies, Michael King, Sophy Kohler, Liam Kruger, Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe, Alexander Matthews, Steven Otter, Brett Petzer, Jolyn Phillips, Donald Powers, Werner Pretorius, Calvin Scholtz, Tom Schwarer, Stephen Symons, Dina Segal, Jen Thorpe, Caitlin Tredoux, Olivia Walton and Makhosazana Xaba.

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

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Thirty-one New Writers Debut in The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories

The Ghost-Eater and Other StoriesThirty-one new writers will make their debut in The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories, a collection compiled by Diane Awerbuck and edited by Louis Greenberg. In time for the Open Book festival, the short story collection will be published as an e-book and will be available for download from most e-book retailers, such as Amazon, Kalahari, and Kobo.

Awerbuck, who is the author of the novels Gardening at Night and Home Remedies, and who teaches creative writing, says: “The stories that were coming out of the university creative writing class were good: funny and sad and highly original. They had the potential to be, because they were invested with the passion, truth and quirkiness of the newest New South Africa. They needed a wider audience, and the oxygen of the outside world.”

Louis Greenberg, who is one part of the horror duo SL Grey, and whose new novel Dark Windows is due for publication in 2014, edited each story. Awerbuck explains that Greenberg’s editing offered “a rare chance for younger writers, whose meaty but messy first drafts are generally thrown to the public lions”.

The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories offers these writers their first bite at the industry, and gives readers a chance to gauge the newest authors writing at the moment.

Note: The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories will be launched in Cape Town at Warren Editions Project Space, 3rd Floor, 62 Roeland Street (round the corner from The Book Lounge) on Sunday, 8 September at 11.30 am.

About the authors

Diane Awerbuck is a novelist and teacher. She is the author of Gardening at Night, winner of the Commonwealth Best First Book Award for Africa and the Caribbean, Cabin Fever, a collection of short stories, and Home Remedies. Her doctorate, The Spirit and the Letter: Trauma, Warblogs and the Public Sphere was published in 2012.

Louis Greenberg is the author of The Beggars’ Signwriters, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the University of Johannesburg Prize in 2007. In 2010 he compiled and edited Home Away.

As SL Grey, he co-writes urban horror novels with Sarah Lotz. Louis has a doctorate in English literature, specialising in the post-religious apocalyptic fiction of Douglas Coupland. He now edits and proofreads literary, thriller and youth fiction for various publishers.

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Skotse vroue en Boere-krygsgevangenes: SJ Naudé kyk na foto’s van sy oumagrootjie

Alfabet van die voelsFamiliestories word selde ordentlik oorvertel en baie deurstaan nie die toets van tyd nie. SJ Naudé, skrywer van Alfabet van die voëls, pen in dié artikel vir Die Burger een van die meer hardnekkige verhale oor sy Skotse oumagrootjie neer:

Van familiestories oor die voorouers bly daar by ’n mens net ’n afsaksel van half-gehoorde, half-onthoude fragmente oor. ’n Paar stukkies inligting uit groottantes of oumas se relase (en dit ís gewoonlik die vroue wat onthou en vertel), ’n paar beelde wat vassteek uit jou kindertyd, al het sulke dinge jou toe verveel. Jy dink jy het jou daarvan afgesluit, maar wanneer die waters beroer word, drywe fragmente boontoe.

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