“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.”
Last week, Joy Watson, Cathy Park Kelly and Melissa A. Volker spoke to Karina M. Szczurek about love and relationships in their lives and writing at the beautiful Stonehaven, the home of the Union of Jewish Women (UJW). Thank you to the UJW for hosting, thank you to the authors for their insights and laughter, and to everyone who attended with such generosity of spirit. A beautiful evening!
Thank you, Bernie Shelly, for being there and for sharing a few photographs with us!
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!
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”.
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.
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”.
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.
David Whyte, the author of Consolations, reminds us that to be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or to do anything. It is to make conscious the things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of its consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world, to be open to the unknown that begs us on. Boiling a Frog Slowly is an effervescent narrative of what happens when we dare to open up to the unknown, to move on.