THE ISLAND PRIZE: Call for submissions!

“As African writers, we are often faced with a double dose of challenges. Firstly, getting published within African countries can be incredibly difficult because local publishers are often constrained by finances. Secondly, for many writers getting published overseas is almost impossible because the rest of the world has certain ideas of what an African story should be. Having experienced these challenges first-hand – being told that a novel is ‘too African’ or ‘not African enough’ – I know how important it is that stories from Africa be given a wide variety of platforms so that they can be shared at home and abroad without the need to fit certain moulds. I am proud to be part of The Island Prize for a Debut Novel from Africa – a competition where the judges are African and where the winners have an opportunity of being published both in the UK and in South Africa. This is one step towards bridging the gap between here and there, us and them. In fact, it is through prizes like these that authors across the continent can gain the confidence to tell stories as they wish. The hope is that, with time, such stories will become appreciated across the globe, without first being labelled as an exception or a surprise.”

— Karen Jennings

THE ISLAND PRIZE JUDGES

For more details and the submission form, please see:

THE ISLAND PRIZE FOR A DEBUT NOVEL FROM AFRICA

Good luck!

‘It took the Booker to introduce South Africans to their own Karen Jennings’, writes Jean Meiring

This year’s discovery, though, is Jennings (born 1982), who, in spite of having produced several excellent earlier books, has not been afforded the acclaim in South Africa that she deserves. The truth of the hoary adage that a prophet is rarely hallowed in her own land rings especially true, it would seem, of South Africans who write literary fiction in English.

[…]

Whether Jennings’ name appears on the shortlist that will be announced in London tomorrow afternoon or not, one can only hope that her longlisting will have changed the trajectory of her career: that she will never again have to make out a case to be published. And never again be published in print runs of only 500.

LitNet

Hephzibah Anderson reviews AN ISLAND by Karen Jennings for the Observer

Karen Jennings’s taut, tenebrous novel describes what happens when Samuel, a septuagenarian lighthouse keeper and the sole inhabitant of a small island off the coast of an unnamed African country, acquires an uninvited houseguest. 

[…]

An Island is the only small-press published novel on this year’s Booker prize longlist, and if its chances of making the final cut feel slender, its deft execution and the seriousness of its political engagement serve as a potent reminder of all that such titles add to the literary ecosystem. Those same qualities should also win it readers well beyond awards season.

The Observer

On Being a Writer in Kalk Bay

Two Kalk Bay locals are shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards: Dawn Garisch for Breaking Milk (Fiction Award) and Mark Gevisser for The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers (Non-fiction Award)Earlier tonight, Dawn and Mark were in conversation with Olympia’s Kenneth McClarty and spoke about their books and writing lives on the outdoor terrace of the Chartfield Guesthouse, where we had also launched Dawn’s Disturbance towards the end of last year.

Thank you Dawn, Mark, Kenneth, Audrey of Kalk Bay Books and the fabulous people of Chartfield Guesthouse for a fascinating evening of stories. It was simply wonderful to attend a live book event and celebrate these two brilliant writers with other readers.

A FRACTURED LAND by MELISSA A. VOLKER longlisted for the Page Turner Award – Book Award 2021!

Fantastic news! Melissa A. Volker’s A Fractured Land has been longlisted for the Page Turner Award – Book Award 2021.

Melissa A. Volker is a reader, writer, beauty therapist and water woman. She blogs about surfing and stand up paddle boarding; writes eco-fiction, romance and short stories. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, two daughters and a cat. Her first eco-romantic thriller, A Fractured Land, was published in the US in 2018 and was republished along with her second novel, Shadow Flicker, by Karavan Press in South Africa in 2019. Shadow Flicker won the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa’s Strelitzia prize for the most promising manuscript in 2017. Melissa’s short story, ‘Spa Ritual’, was published in the South African anthology: Hair – Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity. Her new novelette, The Pool Guy, is coming soon.

Congratulations, Melissa!

Jonathan D Jansen reviews CONJECTURES: LIVING WITH QUESTIONS by James Leatt

James Leatt’s Conjectures: Living with questions (Karavan Press, 2021)

In this captivating and evocative new book, Conjectures, Professor James Leatt delivers a master class in how to think about and think through those perplexing questions that humans everywhere grapple with—questions of life and death, salvation and suffering, faith and doubt. Rich in literary references, the book is nevertheless accessible to a broad readership well beyond the landscapes of theology and philosophy that the author traverses with remarkable ease.

What makes this work particularly interesting is that Jim, as friends call him, teaches us about ‘living with questions’ (the sub-title of the book) through the biography of his rich and rewarding life, shared with us warts and all. The eldest child of a broken home (alcoholic parents), Jim finds the objects of his devotion in the Methodist Church and its sense of mission leads him to preaching in the backyards of my youthful upbringing (Retreat, on the Cape Flats) and ministering in the once promising community of Alice in the Eastern Cape before the apartheid government drained those small oases of non-racial living.

During his studies at Rhodes University, Jim begins to question the certainties of his faith as he engages some of the great thinkers of the 19th century on truth, knowledge, and human reason. It is his openness to challenging ideas and his courage in confronting unsettling questions that impress throughout the reading of this intriguing text. In the writing Jim gives us access to his head and his heart, and the slow but steady process of change that starts to transform his thinking about divine authority and the human condition.

Right in the middle of this contemplation, Jim shares insights into his roles as a leader of universities from Cape Town (UCT) to Durban (University of Natal) and eventually Thohoyandou (University of Venda) where, in the latter case, he led the successful transformation of a dysfunctional institution that is now regarded as one of the two or three historically black universities that have overcome the ideological and material deadweight of the apartheid burden.

Jim reassures the reader that he is not an atheist but one who has through his openness to ideas found his calling in ‘secular spirituality’ that values human connection, owns up to personal responsibility, lives compassionately, and revels in the ordinary. His “non-theism” inspired by Eastern thought, insists that we are on our own and that “there isn’t someone or something that is going to make things right for me …”

No doubt, the book will disturb those of us raised on foundational truths and the comforting certainties of fundamentalist faith. Fortunately, Jim does not set out to win over converts to his commitments but to invite readers into a world of conscious deliberation on vital questions about transcendent living that makes a difference in the lives of those around us. For that reason alone, Conjectures is highly recommended for these uncertain times where self-absorption, even mere survival, has displaced deep thinking about humanity, connectivity, and solidarity in an unjust world.

Jonathan D Jansen, Distinguished Professor of Education, Stellenbosch University

ISBN: 978-0-620935-87-6

Also available on Kindle: Conjectures

Moira Lovell reviews FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons in the latest issue of STANZAS

“The thirty-six poems and prose passages that make up Symons’ new collection reveal the tender, sensitive and incisive vision of the writer.”

Stanzas 23 (July 2021)

“Wide-ranging, Symons’ work is both delicate and weighty. Full of subtleties and surprises, it arrests and engages the reader.”

FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by STEPHEN SYMONS