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!

KARAVAN PRESS entries for the GBAS Book Cover Design Awards 2021

Celebrating the fabulous, multi-talented designers we work with:

Monique Cleghorn | Nick Mulgrew | Megan Ross | Stephen Symons

Not representing Karavan Press at the Awards this year, but hopefully next year again, is Megan Ross, who designed the stunning covers of Melissa A. Volker’s novels, A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker (2019). Melissa’s third novel is on its way …

In the meantime, Megan’s SSDA Disruption cover features at the Awards in 2021:

GBAS Book Cover Design Awards