UJ Prize shortlist clarification

As many of you would have seen when the original press release about the University of Johannesburg Prize for Creative Writing shortlists went out on 15 September, our A Hibiscus Coast by Nick Mulgrew was included — troublingly, however, for the debut prize.

But the novel is the author’s fourth book, a fact clearly stated both inside the book and on its cover. 

We were thrilled nevertheless, because we thought that the inclusion of the novel might have been a simple administrative mix-up, and that the novel belonged on the main category’s shortlist.

When we asked for clarification before making an official announcement on our side, however, the response was:

“Unfortunately, the UJ literary prize panel erroneously shortlisted Nick Mulgrew’s The [sic] Hibiscus Coast as a debut publication. As his publisher pointed out that he had published creative writing previously, we have removed this wonderful book from the debut shortlist. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.”

With considerable disappointment, therefore, the book has been withdrawn entirely from consideration for the University of Johannesburg Prizes.

Thank you to all who congratulated Nick and Karavan Press after the initial press release. We are celebrating this exceptional novel (shortlist or no shortlist) and continue to congratulate the shortlisted authors.

Here is the updated, correct (sadly for us), press release: JRB.

Sunday Times Literary Awards longlists announced

The longlists for SA’s most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and fiction – the Sunday Times Literary Awards – have been announced in partnership with Exclusive Books. Karavan Press has two titles on each list. Congratulations to all longlisted authors, and extra literary hugs to Karavan Press authors: Karen Jennings, Nick Mulgrew, Nancy Richards and Cathy Park Kelly!

FICTION PRIZE

FICTION LONGLIST

This is the 21st year of the Sunday Times fiction prize. The criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of “rare imagination and style … a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”.

JUDGES

EKOW DUKER — CHAIR
Oil-field engineer turned banker turned writer, Ekow Duker grew up in Ghana, studied in the UK, the US and France and now lives and works in Joburg. His debut novels, White Wahala and Dying in New York, were published in 2014 and were followed in 2016 by The God Who Made Mistakes, and in 2019 by his fourth and most ambitious novel, Yellowbone.

KEVIN RITCHIE
Ritchie spent 27 years at what is today Independent Media, including editing the company’s smallest daily newspaper, the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley, and its flagship, The Star, in Joburg. He received several journalism awards during his career and wrote the two-volume Reporting the Courts – A Handbook for South African Journalists. He also co-authored The A-Z of South African Politics (Jacana 2019). After leaving journalism in 2018, Ritchie founded a media consultancy which provides communication services, training for journalists and communicators and coaching for editors and CEOs. He writes a syndicated weekly opinion column in the Saturday Star.

NOMBONISO GASA
Writer and political analyst, Gasa is a research fellow at the Centre for Law and Society and Adjunct Professor at the School of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. In the early ’90s, Gasa was part of the ANC’s Commission for the Women’s Emancipation of Women. Gasa has been published widely in newspapers and academic journals, including Women in South African History (HSRC), which she edited in 2007. She has sat in several public positions, including the Commission for Gender Equality, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Development Bank of Southern Africa. Gasa has a long history in politics, feminism and women’s rights activism extending to her teenage years which saw her arrested several times by the apartheid government.

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NON-FICTION PRIZE

NON-FICTION LONGLIST

The award will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

JUDGES

GRIFFIN SHEA — CHAIR
Shea is the founder of Bridge Books, an independent bookstore in downtown Johannesburg, and the author of a young adult novel, The Golden Rhino. Bridge Books focuses on African literature and on finding new ways of getting books to readers. The store’s non-profit African Book Trust is the lead partner in the Literary District project, a collaboration among booksellers, city agencies, businesses and other volunteers. Before opening Bridge Books, Griffin worked as a journalist for 15 years, mostly with the international news agency Agence France-Press (AFP).

NOMAVENDA MATHIANE
Mathiane has been a journalist for over 35 years. Her writing career began in 1975 as a reporter at the World Newspapers and she later joined Frontline magazine, where she specialised in writing about life in South African townships. Since then she has worked for most of the major South African newspapers. Her last journalist job was writing for Business Day as the legislature reporter. Mathiane has written three books: Beyond the Headlines, South Africa: Diary of Troubled Times and Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story. She currently teaches isiZulu at a private primary school.

BONGANI NGQULUNGA
Ngqulunga is with the University of Johannesburg where he currently serves as director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS). He is the author of The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka IsakaSeme, which won multiple awards, including the Sunday Times Non-Fiction Award in 2018. Ngqulunga was educated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and at Brown University in the US, where he obtained a doctoral degree.

Azille Coetzee reviews ‘A Hibiscus Coast’ by Nick Mulgrew for ‘Tydskrif vir letterkunde’

A Hibiscus Coast does not simplify anything, does not try to redeem nor condemn—it complicates. It shows how much we lose when we close ourselves off to that which is strange, Other and new—whether it is at home or somewhere else. Although it resists a linear path of character growth and healing for Mary (or any of the other characters) it does offer hope; hope in connection and relation, and in the expansive power of opening oneself up to that which is unknown and outside.

Tydskrif vir letterkunde

A HIBISCUS COAST by Nick Mulgrew launched at The Book Lounge

To say that I was moved would be the understatement of the last two years. Our first post-lockdown book launch at THE BOOK LOUNGE again – after more than seven hundred loss-filled days! Fittingly, it was of Nick Mulgrew’s debut novel A Hibiscus Coast, and he was interviewed by Bongani Kona. Nick is as much of a literary institutions in his own right as is The Book Lounge. So is Bongani. Between the three of them – Mervyn (and his Book Lounge team!), Bongani and Nick – they connect most of the local literary community around us in ways that are difficult to capture in a few words. I would just like to say that I do not want to imagine a world without them. They make what I do at Karavan Press possible. They give me hope when little else does. Thank you!

And thank you to all the writers and readers who showed up at The Book Lounge tonight – I cannot tell you what it meant to me to sit among you during this evening of celebration.

Nick, thank you! You are an inspiration.

Nancy Richards reviews A HIBISCUS COAST by Nick Mulgrew

In my opinion, Nick Mulgrew is the most extraordinary young man of words. Quick bio run down: In 2014, in his early twenties, he founded uHlanga, a magazine of poetry from KwaZulu-Natal – the now award-winning uHlanga Press publishes poets more widely. Personally, he’s had the support of the German Sylt Foundation, the Swedish Literature Exchange, amongst others, and was a Mandela-Rhodes scholar. His work, mainly short fiction and features, has won lots of awards and accolades, including a Thomas Pringle and Nadine Gordimer Award. He’s written four books, was born in South Africa in 1990, raised both in Durban and Orewa, New Zealand, is currently doing his PhD at Dundee University and is based in Edinburgh. This is not to over-brag on his behalf, just to expand on his background which again, in my opinion, throws light on why this, his fourth book and first novel is also completely extraordinary. And absolutely original.

The story starts in South Africa – the opening line, ‘The neighbours were murdered at Christmas.’ lays the cards on the table, and then, through the person of 19-year-old Mary, makes its way across oceans to New Zealand. It’s no coincidence that there is a Hibiscus Coast in both countries.

On the imprint page, it says ‘This book is a work of fiction. Any descriptions…of actual persons, places, events or organisations are fictitious.’ I’m sure this is quite true, but the persons, places, events and organisations here are so meticulously described as to ring peels of bells – both in what a reader may have experienced or imagined. Whilst I’ve never been to New Zealand, the images, and dialogues especially, appear to have been born from close and processed observation. And research. Mulgrew acknowledges, together with the South Coast Herald archives, the National Library of New Zealand, the Auckland City Library, Takupuna Library and UCT Library as some of his sources. Interestingly, something of a graphic artist, young Mary spends a bit of time in libraries too.  He was also helped tremendously by ‘komiti members of Te Herenga Waka of Orewa’ – so those who know little of the indigenous culture of NZ are in for some lessons. Now I know what a ‘hangi’ is, and that it needs to get laid. In fact I think I learnt quite a bit about South African culture too – for better and worse.

But aside from the extraordinary insight that’s gone into this book, as well as lived experience and research, what I found to be so absolutely original is its construction. The text is ‘illustrated’ with what you might call ‘supporting documentation’ – affidavits, newsletters, newspaper cuttings, posters, flyers, even hand-written notes. It’s been conceived and laid out with such care, that it commands respect – as well as a place in the timeline of both countries. I’m sorry not to have given any details of the plot itself, but oty to discover. Finally, they say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but what you can tell from this one, is that it really IS absolutely original.

First published on the GBAS FB page.

The Book Lounge’s 21 Bestsellers of 2021!

“This has been a long, hard year for many people, but one thing we did have was an amazing selection of books! Here are our 21 bestsellers of 2021. Our number one this year, The Promise by Damon Galgut, was a bestseller in our store before it was even nominated for the 2021 Booker prize, but the longlist, shortlist, and finally, winning, announcements did not hurt! And to everyone who bought it, I’m sure you’ll agree that it was an excellent book and deserved all the hype. It is a great list, filled with local books, so well done Cape Town (and our customers further afield) for supporting local and having excellent taste!” – The Book Lounge

Two Karavan Press titles are – at numbers 4. and 16. – on this amazing list:

1. The Promise by Damon Galgut ~ R290
2. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro ~ R325
3. Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney ~ R320
4. An Island by Karen Jennings ~ R280
5. District Six: Memories, Thoughts and Images by Martin Greshoff ~ R460
6. Nation on the Couch by Wahbie Long ~ R280
7. When the Village Sleeps by Sindiwe Magona ~R290
8. Into Dark Water by Jeremy Vearey ~ R290
9. Female Fear Factory by Pumla Dineo Gqola ~ R280
10. The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer ~ R310
11. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo ~ R215
12. Robert by Robert Hamblin ~ R280
13. Land Matters by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi ~ R280
14. The Hidden Spring by Mark Solms ~ R300
15. Bewilderment by Richard powers ~ R320
16. A Hibiscus Coast by Nick Mulgrew ~ R290
17. Die Teenoorgestelde is Net So Waar deur Azille Coetzee ~ R295
18. Surfacing, edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba Baderoon ~ R350
19. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong ~ R215
20. Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ~ R260
21. By the Fading Light by Ashram Kagee ~ R195

You can buy these and many, many other books at The Book Lounge!