Elton Baatjies launched (and arrested) at Liberty Books

Family, friends, readers gathered last night at Liberty Books to celebrate the launch of Elton Baatjies, the eagerly awaited debut novel by local author Lester Walbrugh.

Cleo wanted to do the interview …

… but the humans insisted that they would do a better job and even dressed up – Elton-style! – for the occasion.

Full house for Lester, Christy, Elton and Cleo!

The humans did a great job for a while …

… but then Cleo did take over!

She (and the tiger) wanted to know about the role of wild horses in the novel, and whether any cats featured.

The novel is fiction, but it is so believably written and feels so real that the local cops showed up to arrest Elton!

To find out whether Detective Junaid Japtha is as successful in fiction, and about what happens to Tyron May, you will have to read Elton Baatjies.

Lester’s job is done: Elton Baatjies is in the hands of readers. Books were celebrated, sold and signed.

Thank you to Liberty Books and all who attended for another amazing literary event! Thank you to Peregrine Farm Stall for the delicious snacks! And thank you to Paul Cluver Wines for the elegant wines which made the evening all the more special!

Above all, thank you to Christy and Lester for a great conversation and all the literary joy you bring into our lives!

Want To See My Boobs?

Cathy Park Kelly

Photo by Catrina Carrigan on Unsplash

For my birthday a few months ago, my husband whisked me off into the city for a surprise night away. We were excited for our adventure. Hotel bedlinen! A chance to sleep late!

After we’d found parking in Long Street (never an easy task), we lugged our bags one block to the hotel entrance and up two flights of stairs to the Reception desk.

‘Booking for Kelly, please: the Beach House.’

The receptionist shook his head: ‘Sorry, you’re at the wrong hotel. This is Daddy Long Legs. You’re looking for Grand Daddy, five blocks down.’

So back down the stairs with our bags we went, and into the bumper to bumper stream of cars to look for parking. Again.

Joel looked over at me: ‘Sorry! You must think I’m an idiot.’

It doesn’t have to be a dog eat dog world

Now if we…

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Questions Commonly Asked by Writers

Cathy Park Kelly

I love questions. Especially open-ended questions that somehow make us rethink what we thought we knew, that entice us to look at ourselves or at life from an unexpected angle.

And when I’m needing answers to questions that jostle restlessly inside me, I go to the page. As my pen shapes each word, as it moves from line to line, I know that eventually, the solutions will begin to form from the ink.

As writers contemplating any sort of creative project, we tend to have lots of queries. All About Writing recently hosted a webinar with me and my publisher, Karavan Press, attended by writers of all levels. The following are some of the questions that we didn’t have time to address online. I’ve picked two common ones that were asked in different ways by many of the attendees.

From Fred: My memoir is so personal that, as Karina…

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Of Canapés and Tricky Questions

Cathy Park Kelly

(Photo by Karina Szczurek,
Karavan Press)

In the years that I’ve been working on my memoir, there were many moments when I’d slump down after an uninspiring writing session, and question what I was doing. Joel would hug me and say: Let’s talk about your book launch.

Then we’d spend a few pleasant moments talking about where it would be, who would be there and what canapés (or knaps, as Joel calls them) would be served. Because the work as a writer and a memoirist of excavating the past for treasure can be lonely and often grubby, sometimes you have to borrow energy from future possibilities.

And finally, this future dream became a reality. Instead of a book store though, it took place in the cosy The Alma Café (usually a live music venue) surrounded by collections of old tins and music posters. (I would’ve been mightily tempted to break…

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SKIPPER…around the world

The most well-travelled Karavan Press title so far! Making waves across the world 🙂

From the moment that Karina of Karavan Press arrived in Rosebank, Cape Town with the first batch from the printers, to when a smaller stash arrived at a Putney front door in London, ‘Skipper’ was destined to travel. Here are some moments from her voyage…

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Review: An Island by Karen Jennings (2020)



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…

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So Skipper was lucky, first to be able to come into existence through the skills, talents and care of Karina Szczurek founder of Karavan Press and designer Monique Cleghorn. Equally lucky to have had not one but two launches to put the wind in her sails. First at The Alma Cafe in Rosebank, then in Greyton, in Carol and Steve du Toit’s fabulously fertile garden. Below is a taste of how the boat floated….

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AN ISLAND by Karen Jennings – A little gem of a novel

Allaying Art

Karen Jennings’ short 2021 Booker Longlisted novel follows Samuel, an old man living on an island in an unknown African country and one day his routine is abruptly disturbed by a body of a refugee being washed up on the shore of the island.

This is a powerful little novel by a small independent press ( Holland House Books). The book definitely is not pitied by Booker judges due to its small publication but is selected because it’s an absolutely marvellous novel by a writer who has something important to say.

It’s remarkable how Jennings in such a small novel conveys so much about the post colonial perspective and rebellion against dictatorship in an African country but leaves much room for interpretation. I loved how she is touching political themes, environmental themes but not going into the depth of it, but just touching a surface level.

The book…

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Book Review: An Island


an island

This review was written for and first published by Bookmunch.

An Island tells the story of Samuel, who is seventy years old when the tale opens. For the previous twenty-three years he has tended a lighthouse on a rocky islet, where he cultivates vegetables and keeps chickens. Requested supplies are delivered by boat each fortnight. Other than these brief visits, he lives alone.

Occasional bodies are washed up on his shores, refugees who have perished and who he buries. The authorities have no interest in those whose skin colour and facial features mark them as foreign.

The book is structured across four days that unfold in short segments with many flashbacks. On the first day Samuel finds the body of a man who turns out not to be as dead as he first appears. Although unwelcome, Samuel cannot bring himself to leave the incomer to perish. With some difficulty…

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A Hibiscus Coast

Melissa A Volker

Book Review:

A Hibiscus Coast

by Nick Mulgrew

(Karavan Press)

In these turbulent South African times of violence and disquiet, many conversations have turned to emigration. In that context I found A Hibiscus Coast to be an honest, compelling and soothing look at family, migration and dispossession.

The author takes us to Durban North, 1997, where a suburban murder rocks a community, and drives one of its members to act upon a long held emigration strategy.

As in real life, nothing about emigration is simple. The characters are layered with different life events, losses and biases, and so we begin to see the messy, difficult, courageous and conflicted process unfold.

The main character, nineteen year old Mary, has to leave Durban ahead of her parents and is forced to make a new life for herself, within a South African ex-pat community in New Zealand.

Parallel to Mary’s story, we meet…

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