JRB: Read an excerpt from Lester Walbrugh’s debut novel and an interview with Joy Watson

The latest issue of the Johannesburg Review of Books features an excerpt from Lester Walbrugh’s debut novel Elton Baatjies and an interview with Joy Watson.

‘A raincloud sucks all the blue from the sky’—Read an excerpt from Lester Walbrugh’s forthcoming debut novel, Elton Baatjies

‘I think that it is important for every woman to claim the “nasty” in her’—Anna Stroud interviews Joy Watson on her debut novel, The Other Me

15 – 17 September: Karavan Press authors at Blown Away by Books

THURSDAY 15 SEPTEMBER

14.00 – 15.00 
So you want to write? How to start – how to continue: three writers give insight into their writing journeys and the genres they have explored

Lester Walbrugh – Elton Baatjies & Let It Fall Where It Will
Shameez Patel – The Last Feather 
Penny Haw – The Wilderness Between Us

Moderator: SarahBelle Selig

FRIDAY 16 SEPTEMBER

9.30 – 11.30 
Writing workshop with Cathy Park Kelly and Máire Fisher (Library Hall)

14.00 – 15.00 
What we know and what we learn – about ourselves, our families, our history

Sara-Jayne Makwala King – Mad Bad Love
Erika Bornman – Mission of Malice
Cathy Park Kelly – Boiling a Frog Slowly

Moderator: Karina Szczurek

16.00 – 17.00 
The stories we choose to tell – memoir, biography and the fictions between

Colleen Higgs – My Mother My Madness
Nancy Richards – The Skipper’s Daughter
Hedi Lampert – The Trouble With My Aunt

Moderator: Cathy Park Kelly

SATURDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

16.00 – 17.00 
Personal, social, political – stories that create the fabric of our country

Sindiwe Magona – Theatre Road
In Our Own Words: Nurses on the Front Line
Nick Dall and Matthew Blackman – Spoilt Ballots

Moderator: Tracey Farren

For the full programme, click here:

BLOWN AWAY BY BOOKS

Sunday Times Literary Awards: AN ISLAND by Karen Jennings shortlisted for the Fiction Prize

The shortlists of the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Awards have been announced and we are thrilled that An Island by Karen Jennings is nominated for the Fiction Prize! Congratulations, Karen, and all the other shortlisted authors.

FICTION PRIZE CRITERIA
The winner should be a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.

JUDGES: Ekow Duker (chair), Nomboniso Gasa, Kevin Ritchie

CHAIR OF JUDGES EKOW DUKER SAYS:

I’m sure we can all remember our school days when the teacher would pose a question to the class. Some pupils would immediately strain to answer. Others might look at each other in puzzlement, the answer tantalisingly out of reach. This year’s judging of the Fiction Prize was a little like that. Some novels by their magisterial telling of an important story, screamed at the judges to, “Pick me! Pick me!”. Others were more restrained, quietly confident in their ability to narrate a memorable tale. Each of the five books that made this year’s shortlist met the criteria but in remarkably different ways. An Island by Karen Jennings is a masterful depiction of a fragile life lived in near-solitude. With its cast of indentured labourers and colonial administrators, Joanne Joseph’s Children of Sugarcane took us on a meticulously detailed journey from India to the cruel fields of Natal, and back again. All Gomorrahs Are The Same by Thenjiwe Mswane gently lifts the veil of familiarity that shrouds the existence of three women, allowing us a powerfully intimate view into their inner lives. Damon Galgut’s The Promise, winner of the 2021 Booker Prize, is a compelling study of a once privileged family in terminal decline. Finally, and without any warning to buckle up, Junx by Tshidiso Moletsane, flung us headlong into the exhilaration of inner-city Joburg.

AN ISLAND
KAREN JENNINGS (Karavan Press)

Jennings doesn’t continue the postmodernist leitmotifs of living on an island which were established by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and JM Coetzee’s response to it in Foe. Our reviewer wrote: “Instead of writing ‘back’ to another text, she digs deeper into the long term impact of a colonist rule, and the twisted dictatorship that follows it. This allegorical tale could be read as a warning of the long lasting impact of fear, violence, depravity and poverty and the role isolation plays in feeding these conditions.” Our judges said: “Haunting in its depiction of a life lived in solitude, where the past is more real than the present. She is masterful in building the suspense, stone by blood-soaked stone.”

Read the full press release here: The 2022 Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlist

ELTON BAATJIES by Lester Walbrugh to be launched at Liberty Books

We are delighted to invite you to the launch of Lester Walbrugh‘s eagerly awaited debut novel, Elton Baatjies. Equally delighted that it is going to take place at Liberty Books in Elgin – Lester will be in conversation with Christy Weyer.

Thank you to Paul Cluver Wines for sponsoring the wine for this special occasion!

We can’t wait to share this hauntingly dark, absolutely stunning novel with Readers.

“Why I Stayed” – Cathy Park Kelly writes for Primer

“His criticism of me is always dressed in psychological terms. Sometimes I wish it was about how I’d made the tea, or the steak not being tender enough. That would be easier to fix.

But our relationship has never been about tea and steak. I fell in love with the way he seemed to live his life on a deeper, more meaningful level than any other guy I’d met. I was astounded at how fluent he was – for a guy – in the language of self-growth. He listened to my tentative explorations of my childhood. His reflections back to me were perceptive, shone a light into dark corners I hadn’t considered.

As time passed, I didn’t notice that the torch light was always on me, and that most often its beam picked out only the dysfunctions; my insecurities about coming from a broken home; and losing my dad when I was young. His empathic listening, punctuated by slow understanding nods, shifted to pointed accusations: I was too needy, not spiritually conscious enough; too this, not enough that.” 

PRIMER

Read the article here: PRIMER

Karavan Press title: Elton Baatjies by Lester Walbrugh

In this anonymity they are able to be themselves, shadows and all, even if only for a few minutes in the day.

The Cape Peninsula carries secrets known only to the wind, the fynbos, and the creatures that live there. Six teenage boys are found raped, murdered, and dumped down the side of its mountains.  

It is two years since the discovery of the first body and Detective Junaid Japtha is no closer to cracking the case. With pressure mounting, and without any tangible evidence, he can only rely on his experience and instinct to track down the killer.  

Fifteen-year-old Tyrone May from Macassar spends his days in limbo. He has no one to talk to. No one listens. He is curious and confused about his feelings. Like most boys, he has yet to develop a sense of his own mortality. It allows for a daring that will dissipate as he grows older, but, for now, Tyrone will accept the friend request a handsome stranger sends him.   

Elton Baatjies is the newly appointed teacher at a local high school. These are his people, and he is soon embraced by the close-knit community. But he is tied to the six dead boys in ways no one could have predicted, and the secrets among them threaten to tear the sleepy mountain town apart. 

Publication date: September 2022

ISBN: 978-1-7764064-7-0

LESTER WALBRUGH is the author of the short story collection, Let It Fall Where It Will (Karavan Press, 2020). Elton Baatjies is his first novel. He lives in Grabouw.

PANYA ROUTES by KIM GURNEY launched at the A4 Arts Foundation

Last week Thursday, Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa by Kim Gurney was launched at the A4 Arts Foundation. Kim was in conversation with Neo Muyanga.

“I travelled to five cities on the African continent at intervals during 2018 and 2019 to visit an independent art space in each. Panya Routes is an invitation to join this journey and discover how such spaces work, think and navigate conditions of constant flux. These independent art spaces form part of a larger family of small-scale platforms, often artist-led or with artistic thinking at heart, whose numbers have flourished in recent years although their existence can also be short-lived. This book focuses upon five case studies of such spaces that have all been active for more than a decade, thus offering compelling tales about sustaining non-profit and innovative practice in an increasingly commodified world. My visits, conducted as part of the African Centre for Cities research project Platform / Plotform, were timed to coincide with emblematic programming, predominant art in public spaces. And, where possible, other independently curated events and spaces from a street art festival to an “off-biennial” were considered in parallel in order to glean another reading on art in each city …” (Panya Routes, p. 9)

Thank you, Nancy Richards and Natalie Becker, for the photographs!