DIANE AWERBUCK reviews DEATH AND THE AFTER PARTIES by JOANNE HICHENS for the Sunday Times

THE KISS OF DEATH

The aptly titled Death and the After Parties is Joanne Hichens’s long-awaited memoir following four sudden horrifying deaths in her family. Blisteringly accurate, humorous and lyrical, the book follows her investigations into how we mourn, and how she nearly lost herself in that process. Hichens initially began a scholarly dissertation on grieving soon after her mother’s death, titled “Loss and the City”, which examined Cape Town’s tortured past and present – the losses of land and identity. Then her husband died, and her theory was proven in hard and personal practice.

The passing of seven years since his death has given Hichens a clarity of thought even in the ongoing chaos and fever of grief. The memoir is divided into five parts, a kind of guide to grieving.

Continue reading: Sunday Times

Q&A: Words on the Times– Nick Mulgrew, founder & director of uHlanga Press

AiW note: To celebrate the past thirty years of independent publishing at African Books Collective (ABC), we are running a series highlighting the wonderful work of those who make up ABC. We will be talking to some of the publishers from the collective, gathering their Words on the Times, an AiW Q&A series that invites collective reflections on the way the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our work and our communities. Nick Mulgrew, uHlanga

ABC is an African owned, worldwide marketing and distribution outlet publishing books from Africa. ABC’s wide-ranging catalogues promote big and small academic presses, children’s books publishers, NGO and writers’ organisations, and literary presses. They also run the website readafricanbooks.com which profiles the work of African publishers and books. We started the series with a Q&A and Words on the Times with ABC CEO, Justin Cox

Today, we talk with Nick Mulgrew, founder and director of uHlanga Press

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Karavan Press title: An Island by Karen Jennings

Samuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude …

A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by no one but Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history. In this new man’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?

A novel about guilt and fear, friendship and rejection; about the meaning of home.

“The far southern extremities of our planet produce remarkable, distilled, and ravaged tales. An Island has to be counted as among the most remarkable of these. Karen Jennings offers a chilling, immersive portrait of Samuel, a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the African continent. He is a man at the edge of history, until the arrival of a refugee stranger returns him to everything he most needs to forget. A gripping, terrifying and unforgettable story.”  — Elleke Boehmer

ISBN: 978-0-6399942-5-3

Publication date: December 2020

Cover artworks by Deborah Minné

About the author:

KAREN JENNINGS was born in Cape Town in 1982. She is the author of three novels, Finding Soutbek, Travels with My Father and Upturned Earth; a short story collection, Away from the Dead; and a poetry volume, Space Inhabited by Echoes.

Her stories have been recognised with the Africa Region prize in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and the English section of the Maskew Miller Longman short story competition.

She holds Master’s degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Currently living in Brazil, Karen completed post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Goiás on the historical relationship between science and literature, with a focus on eusocial insects. 

Karen works with the mentorship programmes run by Writivism and Short Story Day Africa, both of which promote writing in Africa. Her interests lie in colonialism, historically and in the lasting impact that it has had on the continent of Africa and beyond, particularly the quiet lives of everyday people.

Karavan Press is co-publishing An Island with UK publisher, Holland House Books.

Author photograph by Carol Coelho.

Karavan Press title: Disturbance by Dawn Garisch

we are mere players

in a pantomime, performing parts

which must stay true to narrative alone;

right now, this means weeping salt

into a chilli stew to the sound of the sea –

that enormous story, consistent and unfathomed,

repeating outside in the dark, endlessly. 

I write into questions of discomfort, tracking an image until the poem reveals a partial answer.

— Dawn Garisch

“They are poems to break hearts, and mend them again. And I swear I heard the sound of the potter’s wheel turning in The Sound in Stone.”

Jacques Coetzee

ISBN: 978-1-990992-57-5

Also available on Kindle: Disturbance by Dawn Garisch

Publication date: December 2020

About the author:

DAWN GARISCH Dawn Garisch is the highly acclaimed author of a non-fiction work, a memoir and seven novels, three of which were published in the UK. Her latest, Breaking Milk, was published by Karavan Press in 2019. She has written for television and has had five of her plays and a short film produced.

Her poem Blood Delta won the DALRO Prize in 2007 for best poem, and Miracle won the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry Award in 2011. Difficult Gifts, her debut poetry collection, was published the same year. She also writes short stories and her What to Do About Ricky won the Short.Sharp.Story competition in 2013.

Dawn’s novel Trespass was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in Africa in 2010, and Accident was longlisted for the Barry Ronge Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2018. She is part of the medical humanities movement and a founding member of the Life Righting Collective where she runs courses in memoir writing. Dawn is also a practising medical doctor and lives in Cape Town.

Disturbance, published by Karavan Press, is her second poetry collection.

Author photograph by AJ Wattamaniuk.

Alexander Brand interviews Lester Walbrugh and writes about the launch of ‘Let It Fall Where It Will’ at Elgin Ridge Wine Estate

New collection of short stories from Grabouw’s Lester Walbrugh

Walbrugh’s debut anthology is titled Let It Fall Where It Will and was published by Cape Town-based Karavan Press at the beginning of November. The book was officially launched on Saturday 21 November.

Walbrugh grew up and completed his schooling in Grabouw, his home town. He looked back on his childhood in his quiet Western Cape town with much fondness.

“We played in fields, climbed trees and swam in the streams well into our teenage years. However, Grabouw was a small community then and everyone knew everyone, which could be suffocating at times.”

Growing up there, and having not read stories he could relate, to gave him the inspiration to begin writing.

“I like to think that reading indiscriminately has helped my writing in general,” Walbrugh said.

Continue reading: The South African

And here are a few more photos from the launch:

Book launch!

It feels like a miracle. We are going to have a socially distanced book launch for Lester Walbrugh’s story collection, Let It Fall Where It Will!

Thank you to the three literary Fairy Godmothers who are making it possible: Marion Smith of Elgin Ridge Wine Estate for providing a safe space for such an event during lockdown; Christy Weyer of Liberty Books for agreeing to sell books at the launch (in the time ‘before’ we were hoping to have the launch at her beautiful bookshop in Grabouw, but it is too small for a safe gathering of this kind); and, Bettina Wyngaard for agreeing to do the interview with Lester. Both authors grew up in Grabouw and it will be wonderful to celebrate Let It Fall Where It Will with them on their home turf.

Author: Nick Mulgrew

NICK MULGREW was born in Durban in 1990. He is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, the recipient of the 2016 Thomas Pringle and 2018 Nadine Gordimer Awards, and the director of the award-winning poetry press uHlanga. He currently lives in Edinburgh, where he is a PhD candidate at the University of Dundee. A Hibiscus Coast is his first novel and will be published by Karavan Press in 2021.

Author photography by Adam Mays.