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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie’s #FeesMustFall-Flavoured Launch of Maverick and The Cape Town Book

Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie

Readers should expect the unexpected when approaching the fiction of Lauren Beukes. But the same applies to her non-fiction and, it would seem, to her book launches! Collaborating with the firebrand Nechama Brodie only escalates things.

The Cape Town BookMaverickThe Book Lounge was the venue for the recent double launch of Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa’s past by Beukes and Brodie and The Cape Town Book by Brodie. It is just a few hundred metres from Parliament, where the recent Fees Must Fall protests took place, and reflecting this important moment in South African history Beukes and Brodie treated those who attended the event to a different kind of book launch.

Lauren Beukes, Nechama Brodie, Pam Dhlamini and Thabo TshelaneBeukes and Brodie included some of the people involved in the Cape Town student protests in the discussion, and two authors and four activists made it an evening to remember. The six powerful personalities linked arms to raise awareness of how history is being written about even as it is being made on the streets outside. The activists described the tensions at UCT, where workers and management continued negotiations to end outsourcing. The seriousness of the situation was brought home when UWC erupted on the day following the launch, with the police reportedly dragging students out of their residences.

The night was remarkable in many ways. The launch of two terrific books, each one worthy of a solo launch, in combination with a bigger vision made for an event that afforded those present a rich opportunity to understand and engage with some of the issues currently dominating the country’s consciousness.

Earlier this year, Beukes teamed up with Brodie, insisting that she was the best person to co-author the expanded and updated edition of Maverick. The book, which features a number of the great and interesting women that populate South Africa’s past, was Beukes’ debut, first published in 2004. Brodie, who is the editor and co-author of the best-selling The Joburg Book and Inside Joburg, is the head of training, research and information at Africa Check, an independent fact-checking agency.

The gifted writer’s latest work is The Cape Town Book, which was also the raison d’etre for the unusual activities at the book launch. It was described by Louanne van Riet of The Book Lounge as “a beautifully rendered portrait of our strange and weird city that makes for essential reading for inhabitants and visitors to Cape Town”.

Readers will certainly find in the pages of these two books much to keep them thinking deeply about Cape Town and about South Africa’s powerful, feisty and courageous women.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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Join Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie for the Launch of Maverick and The Cape Town Book at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Maverick and The Cape Town Book

Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa’s pastThe Cape Town BookUmuzi, Struik Lifestyle and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to the launch of Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa’s past by Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie and of The Cape Town Book by Brodie.

The event will take place at The Book Lounge on Friday, 6 November, at 5:30 for 6 PM. The two authors will be speaking about their new books.

See you there!

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A Whirlwind of Waiting: Louis Greenberg’s Catalogue of a 13-day Mystery Tour

Dark WindowsLouis Greenberg, author of the moody literary thriller Dark Windows, recently embarked on a 13-day mystery tour, sharing his travel album on Instagram.

The journey, titled “A Whirlwind of Waiting”, exhibited “the magic and the mundane, an obsessive cataloguing of ‪‎transport‬ and ‪‎waiting‬, very likely art and food and beer, and unexpurgated pretty random #onthehour shots”, Greenberg wrote on his website before the adventure started. “I’ll be searching for fuel for big questions and the comfort of minutiae; we may find what I’m looking for along the way.”

The question is: will this mystery tour inspire a new novel, or even just fuel the fire of a story he was already working on? We can’t wait to find out!

Head on over to the Instagram account dedicated to Greenberg’s whirlwind of waiting to see snippets of this journey which saw him stopping in magnificent places like London, Brussels and Berlin:



Have a look at Greenberg’s own Instagram account, where he posts images related to things that inspire him creatively:



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For a taste of Dark Windows, read an excerpt we shared last year:

Johannesburg is becalmed. A wave of New Age belief and an apparent cure for crime have radically altered South Africa’s political landscape.

Jay Rowan has been hired to black out the windows of random vacant rooms. He’s trying to keepout of trouble, but he’s a pawn in political aide Kenneth Lang’s project Dark Windows. A mystical charlatan has convinced Lang’s boss that she can affect the ultimate transformation with a supernatural visitation, the Arrival, and Lang needs to prepare for its coming. When Jay and his married girlfriend Beth realise that someone has died in every room, political and personal tensions come to a head and Jay, Beth and Lang must confront the past they’ve been trying to avoid.


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Henrietta Rose-Innes Reflects on the Magic of the Road Trip

Green LionHenrietta Rose-Innes has shared a lighthearted travel piece she wrote for SA High Times recently.

Rose-Innes latest novel, Green Lion, was released in May, and launched at The Book Lounge with Hedley Twidle, who gave the book a glowing review in the Sunday Times.

Her SA High Times piece is a humorous but insightful look at the magic of youthful holidays – although admittedly in this case it may have been caused by something slightly more sinister:

P and I are big road-trippers. Conditions have changed in the years we’ve been together – starting out, more than a decade ago, we hauled cross-country in a succession of ancient cars that rapidly collapsed into flakes of rust around us. These days, we get where we’re going without a vehicular mishap, and shell out for a B&B when we get there. Things were not always so.

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Justin Fox Shares Stories From His Week Aboard Uniworld’s New Super Ship, SS Catherine

Whoever Fears the SeaWhoever Fears the Sea by Justin Fox tells the gripping story of scriptwriter Paul Waterson who becomes obsessed with finding the last remaining mtepe dhow in Somalia, a magnificent, sewn vessel harking back to Africa’s rich maritime past. His ambition leads to unforeseen dangers on the open sea.

Fox is a travel writer, photographer and former editor at large of Getaway magazine, a publication he still contributes to. In one of his most recent articles for the magazine he wrote about the SS Catherine, a luxury “super ship” launched in the south of France last year.

Read Fox’s article in which he describes the week he spent on board this magnificent vessel:

From Avignon’s Palace of the Popes to the old town of Lyon and the picture-perfect villages of Burgundy, a cruise on the SS Catherine offers a window on the art, architecture and culture of southern France. Each day involves a bit of cruising and excursions off the ship to local sights. It’s a glorious way to experience this corner of Europe.

The cruise began in Avignon, that fabled medieval city. From the river, it looks like Camelot with tall ramparts, dreamy spires and the 12th-century stone bridge made famous in the nursery rhyme ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon’.

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Travel Vicariously by Reading One of Justin Fox’s All Time Top 20 Travel Books

Whoever Fears the Sea“Next time you need some vicarious travel, these travel books won’t let you down!” Justin Fox writes in introduction to a post in which he shares his top 20 travel books of all time.

Fox is a veteran travel writer whose debut novel Whoever Fears the Sea was released last year.

He includes a delightful variety of books from very interesting travel writers, including WG Sebald’s Austerlitz, Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson, Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar and Venice by Jan Morris.

Read the article to find out why Fox likes these 20 travel books best:

Notes from a Small Island

Bill Bryson

This is Bryson’s farewell journey across Britain, delivered with characteristic humour and nostalgia, while offering insights into modern society. His antipathy towards the less glamorous spots makes for hilarious reading.

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Excerpts from Umuzi’s Three SALA Award-winning Books, by Claire Robertson, Jamala Safari and Sihle Khumalo

Three Umuzi authors were rewarded for their literary work at the 2014 South African Literary Awards (SALAs) in November:

Find more information on each of these books as well as excerpts below:

The Spiral House The Spiral House is a grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.

Telling two stories, this debut novel exposes what binds us and sets us free. In his review Jonathan Amid describes it as follows: “a dense, demanding novel that requires from its reader an emotional investment and a willingness to listen. The voices that ultimately emerge are haunting, and sublime.”

Read an excerpt from Robertson’s first novel:

As you know, a head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet. Another is that it takes a long age to push it back into shape if it should fall on its sides or on the back. The face matters less but the sides and the back take an age to put right and he almost always could tell if you had gone and dropped it while he was out.

He was out when they came so sudden to the door and I stumbled and let the thing fall but held on at the last and spared it and my toes and set it on the sill of the street side window, where there was light to see by. At their end of the shop the man blocked light from the door and the woman who walked before him moved under a dull cloud. She stopped three steps in and spoke to her man without a look at him or me, or anywhere but at her hands in finger gloves held at her stomach, pressing the dark stuff against her. She said:

‘Melt. Ask after the master.’


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The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsThe Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and has been described as “a crucial addition to the body of literature documenting the scars of war on children”.

Safari, who himself is a refugee, wrote this gripping narrative by recalling his own experiences. It tells the deeply affecting story of Risto Mahuno’s agony as he flees unthinkable circumstances in the DRC, travelling more than 2 000 km to a refugee camp in Mozambique.

In this excerpt Risto is interviewed by the management of the refugee camp, an event which causes him to recall the ghosts of his past:

The interviewers started with their soft smiles, with easy questions, the
news of the camp, and so on. Then they went on to ask about name, family, town and country of origin.
‘The whole camp is talking about your last harvest of tomatoes,’ said Mr Thomaso Dwanga, the only Mozambican at the interview table; he spoke a nice Swahili.
‘You know this camp talks about anything, even a rain that the heavens have not yet thought about.’
The two refugees present, Mr Rashid and Mama Lemwalu, who represented the board on camp management, were astounded by the wisdom of the young boy; they had heard about it, but now they saw it for themselves.
‘You know this is your second and last interview,’ Mr Thomaso reminded Risto.
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘I believe you are ready to talk today,’ added Mr Thomaso.
‘Let me remind you, any lies will lead to rejection of your application for refugee status, and then deportation. We are here to help you formulate a good report for the United Nations. Ask questions when
you don’t understand well.’ These were the wise words of Mama Lemwalu.


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Almost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuAlmost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu is Khumalo’s account of travelling to West Africa by public transport.

Armed with his infamous sense of humour, an unexpected sensi­tivity towards his host countries and irrepressible optimism Khumalo journeyed through Francophone Africa without speaking the lingua franca.

In her review of this award-winning book, Margaret Whitaker writes: “By the end, it’s Sihle Khumalo (1), West Africa (0). You’ll be cheering our man all the way to the end.”

Read about Khumalo’s time in Sénégal:

My thoughts as the plane was about to touch down just after 16:00 were interrupted by the sight of a massive bronze statue on the left-hand side of the aircraft. I had, as part of my research for the trip, read about this statue. I had seen the pictures and knew it was huge. Still, the sheer size of the family emerging from a hilltop – a woman, a man with his right arm around her waist, and a child sitting on his left shoulder pointing towards the open sea with her small left hand – took me by such surprise that my jaw dropped.

South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki, an African Renaissance man, and former Sénégalese President Abdoulaye Wade must be beaming with African pride whenever they fly past the monument, I thought. Both gentlemen were part of the Africa-can-and-mustsolve-her-own-problems-the-African-way philosophy. What a pity that neither men lasted very long as head of state. Mbeki couldn’t even attend the grand opening of this monument as president of South Africa, because by April 2010, which was also the 50th anniversary of Sénégal’s independence from France, he had long been succeeded by a sexy singing-anddancing man from Nkandla.

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Umuzi Authors at the Franschhoek Literary Festival (16 – 18 May)

The 2014 Franschhoek Literary Festival takes place from 16 to 18 May. Umuzi authors at the festival to look forward to include Lauren Beukes, André Brink, Imraan Coovadia, Louis Greenberg, Isobel Dixon, Justin Fox, Jenny Hobbs, Sihle Khumalo, Brent Meersman, Mike Nicol, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Meg Vandermerwe, Francis Wilson, Nadia Davids, Damon Galgut, Peter Harris, Charlie Human, Penny Lorimer, Claire Robertson and Ivan Vladislavić.

The Shining GirlsPhilidaThe Institute for Taxi PoetryDark WindowsWhoever Fears the SeaAlmost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu
NinevehApocalypse Now NowAn Imperfect BlessingArctic SummerPortrait with Keys

Friday 16 May

Are there boundaries to your imagination?
10 AM – 11 AM (New School Hall)
Savannah Lotz (aka Lily Herne) grills Louis Greenberg (Dark Windows), Charlie Human (Apocalypse Now Now) and Sarah Lotz (The Three), about their limits, if they have any.

Introducing …
10 AM – 11 AM (Council Chamber)
Sue Grant-Marshall chats to first-time authors Penny Lorimer (Finders Weepers), Helen Walne (The Diving).

Africa at War
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Council Chamber)
Brent Meersman (Five Lives at Noon) goes into devastating conflicts with Andrew Brown (Devil’s Harvest), Niq Mhlongo (Way Back Home) and Paul Morris (Back to Angola).

Cape Playwrights Strut and Fret
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Church Hall)
Mike van Graan (Writer’s Block), Nadia Davids (Cissie), An Imperfect Blessing and Pieter-Dirk Uys (Panorama) talk plays and the writing thereof.

The Talent Pool
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Hospice Hall – please note this is the correct venue)
Sunday Times Books Editor Ben Williams, editor and writing consultant Alison Lowry, and Meg Vandermerwe, who helped initiate UWC Creates, discuss how they mentor writers.

Crime Masterclass
1 PM – 5 PM (Library)
An opportunity for 15 aspiring writers to learn from Mike Nicol, who writes both fiction and nonfiction, and is now a craftsman of crime fiction.

Been Here, Done That
1 PM – 2 PM (Hospice Hall)
FLF Director Jenny Hobbs (Thoughts in a Makeshift Mortuary) and Zukiswa Wanner (London – Cape Town – Joburg) talk about their new books and the value of book festivals.

The Fine Print
1 PM – 2 PM (Congregational Church)
Publisher Jeremy Boraine leads Arthur Attwell, literary agent Isobel Dixon and Monica Seeber of ANFASA, as they unpack the confusing labyrinths of publishers’ contracts.

Taboo Topics
2.30 PM – 3:30 PM (Old School Hall)
John Maytham engages with novelists Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls), Damon Galgut (Arctic Summer), and Michiel Heyns (A Sportful Malice) about their new books, their hesitations when it comes to themes, and their definite no-nos.

Braving Africa
2.30 PM – 3:30 PM (Church Hall)
Ndumiso Ngcobo asks Justin Fox (Whoever Fears the Sea), Sihle Khumalo (Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu), and Marianne Thamm (I Have Life) what kind of courage it takes to meet some of the challenges the continent throws up.

Writing to Length
2.30 PM – 3:30 PM (Council Chamber)
Henrietta Rose-Innes (Homing, Nineveh and Caine Prize winner for her short story “Poison”) asks Karen Jennings (Finding Soutbek), Arja Salafranca (The Thin Line) and Makhosazana Xaba (Running) why and how they write short stories.

Revelling in South African English
4 PM – 5 PM (Hospice Hall)
Journalist Rebecca Davis talks to three authors who expand the boundaries of SAE: Nadia Davids (An Imperfect Blessing), Kgebetli Moele, and Claire Robertson (The Spiral House).

Saturday 17 May

Criminal Intentions
10 AM – 11 AM (Old School Hall)
Four éminence grises of SA crime fiction – Angela Makholwa (Black Widow Society), Deon Meyer (Kobra), Mike Nicol (Of Cops & Robbers) and chief interrogator Margie Orford (Water Music) – convene to define their objectives and plot forthcoming mischief.

Who Gets to Decide What’s Literature?
10 AM – 11 AM (Congregational Church)
… and what isn’t? Jenny Crwys-Williams discusses the contentious boundaries between critics, authors and readers with novelists Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls) and academic Imraan Coovadia (The Institute of Taxi Poetry), and poet and books editor Karin Schimke.

Past Tense/Future Imperfect
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Old School Hall)
SA’s favourite sport of verbal sparring over politics has Francis Wilson refereeing exchanges between Richard Calland (The Zuma Years), Lindiwe Mazibuko (subject of Donwald Pressly’s Owning the Future), and Eusebius McKaiser (Could I Vote DA?)

What’s to Become of Biography?
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Congregational Church)
Now that letters are becoming extinct and handwritten records rare, where will biographers find their hard material? Henrietta Rose-Innes asks of poet/novelist Finuala Dowling, Mark Gevisser, and Shaun Viljoen (Richard Rive: A partial biography).

Writing on the Road
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Screening Room)
Justin Fox, Sihle Khumalo and Paul Morris talk about the travel writing paths they’ve followed, and the skills needed to produce gripping stories.

Truth be Told
1 PM – 2 PM (Old School Hall)
Does fiction do a better job of telling the truth, as Doris Lessing averred? Michele Magwood explores the issue with novelists Damon Galgut, Njabulo Ndebele and Tan Twan Eng (The Garden of Evening Mists).

A Writer’s Tools
1 PM – 2 PM (Congregational Church)
Is it possible to write a book without using social media, Rebecca Davis asks Lauren Beukes and Angela Makholwa, and wonders how Margie Orford manages since she committed Facebook suicide?

Literary Doyen
1 PM – 2 PM (Art in the Yard Gallery)
Victor Dlamini in conversation with André Brink about his novel, Philida, set on a Franschhoek farm in the slave era, and his long and distinguished career in South African letters.

The Streets of Joburg
2.30 PM – 3.30 PM (Congregational Church)
Darrel Bristow-Bovey considers the pavements they’ve trodden with two writers who have written about their close relationship with Jozi: Mark Gevisser (Lost and Found in Johannesburg) and Ivan Vladislavić (Portrait With Keys).

We Did it Our Way
2.30 PM – 3.30 PM (Council Chamber)
Brent Meersman and Pieter-Dirk Uys talk about the process of creating an authors’ collective and publishing under their own imprint, Missing Ink, with the next author they’ve lined up, veteran journalist John Matisonn, who is working on an exposé about SA politics in the turbulent ’70s and ’80s.

Author-to-Author with Karina Szczurek
2.30 PM – 3.30 PM (Hospice Hall)
Nadia Davids (An Imperfect Blessing) and Karina Szczurek (Invisible Others) in a mutual discussion about their first novels and their lives as young writers.

The Past is Never Past
4 PM – 5 PM(Old School Hall)
Four authors whose books are set both in the past and the present tell John Maytham why they took the difficult route of different places and time zones: Justin Cartwright (Lion Heart), Claire Robertson, Tan Twan Eng and James Whyle.

The University Business
4 PM – 5 PM (Church Hall)
Francis Wilson talks candidly to vice-chancellors Saleem Badat, recently resigned from Rhodes, Adam Habib of Wits and Max Price of UCT about the often contentious issues they face, and ways to make university education more flexible and attuned to future employment.

Subject Judice
4 PM – 5 PM (Congregational Church)
Peter Harris in conversation with Edwin Cameron about his new memoir Justice: A personal account.

Introducing …
4 PM – 5 PM (Hospice Hall)
Alison Lowry presents two new authors at the FLF, Shifra Horn and Phyllis Muthoni, and Meg Vandermerwe with her first novel, Zebra Crossing.

Sunday 18 May

Site Inspection
10 AM – 11 AM (Council Chamber)
Jenny Crwys-Williams asks Lauren Beukes, Louis Greenberg and Sihle Khumalo leading questions about where their research paths have taken them, wondering (among other questions we’d like to ask) at what stage they stop gathering facts and start writing?

The Considered Canon
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Council Chamber)
Taking into account their dual roles as academics and novelists, Imraan Coovadia, Nadia Davids and Michiel Heyns give their views on what is generally considered the South African literary canon – and whether the very idea of a canon is too exclusionary.

Forster Redux
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Hospice Hall)
Darrel Bristow-Bovey in conversation with Damon Galgut about his new novel, Arctic Summer.

Does Democracy Work?
1 PM – 2 PM (New School Hall)
In the aftermath of the election and tumultuous ongoing ‘Arab Springs’, Peter Harris (Birth) gives the floor alternately to Adam Habib, Eusebius McKaiser, Pieter-Dirk Uys and Mike van Graan.

African Pastoral
1 PM – 2 PM (Church Hall)
Harry Garuba discusses recent novels embedded in rural landscapes: Dominique Botha’s False River in the Free State, André Brink’s Philida in historical Franschhoek, and Claire Robertson’s The Spiral House set in the 18th century Cape and then-Northern Transvaal.

The Colonial Aftermath
1 PM – 2 PM (Hospice Hall)
Francis Wilson, who has a lifetime’s experience of the Eastern Cape and its heritage, talks to Margaret MacMillan (Women of the Raj) and Yewande Omotoso about lingering colonial traces in India and Nigeria.

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Sihle Khumalo Shares Tips on How to Get Your Book Published in South Africa

Dark Continent My Black ArseAlmost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuSihle Khumalo, best-selling author of Dark Continent My Black Arse, has some sage advice to aspiring writers.

Khumalo’s latest book, Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu, documents his travels through West Africa with the broad plan to visit five World Heritage Sites, and reveals the problems he encounters using only public transport, as well as facing Francophone Africa with no French.

In an interview with Gillian Klawansky for Destiny Man, Khumalo, who had a best-seller under his belt at the age of 32, shares some valuable advice on how to get published in South Africa.

What are your tips for those looking to have a book published in SA?
You cannot learn to swim by talking about it. At one stage you have to get into the swimming pool and attempt to swim. Write. Write and write some more. There is no secret really.

Writers, by nature, read voraciously. Reading improves your writing, grammar, and you might even identify a certain style of writing that will work best for you. Once you have a manuscript, the best thing to do is to visit the Publishers’ Association of South Africa website ( which has a comprehensive list of publishers, the type of work they are interested in as well as their contact details.

Even if one publisher turns you down, don’t give up. You have a story to tell. Some internationally best-selling books were turned down a few times before someone saw their potential. Don’t give up on a dream.

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Photos from the Dinner and Launch of Sihle Khumalo’s Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu

Almost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuSihle Khumalo launched his latest travel memoir, Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu, at At the Table in Parkhurst. The book is about Khumalo’s travels through west Africa making use of public transport with the broad plan to visit five World Heritage Sites.

At the Table, which hosts small talks and dinner for 20 people at a time, has shared photographs from the event on their Facebook page:

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