On Being a Writer in Kalk Bay

Two Kalk Bay locals are shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards: Dawn Garisch for Breaking Milk (Fiction Award) and Mark Gevisser for The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers (Non-fiction Award)Earlier tonight, Dawn and Mark were in conversation with Olympia’s Kenneth McClarty and spoke about their books and writing lives on the outdoor terrace of the Chartfield Guesthouse, where we had also launched Dawn’s Disturbance towards the end of last year.

Thank you Dawn, Mark, Kenneth, Audrey of Kalk Bay Books and the fabulous people of Chartfield Guesthouse for a fascinating evening of stories. It was simply wonderful to attend a live book event and celebrate these two brilliant writers with other readers.

Dawn Garisch on the genesis of her novel, BREAKING MILK, shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award

2021 Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award shortlist

In this novel, I explore aspects of separation and connection. Several mothers I know are estranged from their adult children, and many of us are disconnected from nature, intuition and creativity. I track the nuanced task of knowing when to intervene and when to withhold action in the lives of our own or other women’s children.

However, there are situations where we need to cut – initiation, divorce, surgery. Breaking Milk uses the metaphor of milk and cheese-making to ground these preoccupations during one day in the life of Kate, a geneticist who became a farmer when ethics in her lab were compromised. I job-shadowed a friend to learn about this ancient craft that employs patience and invisible micro-organisms to preserve milk.

I am interested in the idea “you can be right, or you can have relationships”; also how our intelligence has had some disastrous consequences for the natural world on which we depend.

Embedded in these concerns is the role of women in society – what it takes to say no, and how a woman finds her feet after divorce. The books that have informed my inquiry are Disgrace by JM Coetzee, and Accident: A Day’s News by Christa Wolf.

Sunday Times Books

Continue reading:

Extract from Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch

Kate Sidley reviews Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch for the Sunday Times: “A small world of deep metaphorical meaning”

Read about the organic cheese farm that inspired the setting for Dawn Garisch’s Breaking Milk: FYNBOSHOEK

Follow the cheese farm on Instagram: FYNBOSHOEK CHEESE FARM

BREAKING MILK by DAWN GARISCH shortlisted for the Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award

FICTION AWARD

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.

CHAIR OF JUDGES KEN BARRIS COMMENTS:

It is always difficult to select a shortlist in a competition at national level, and this year the fiction prize included books published in both 2019 and 2020. It was also a two-year period in which many of SA’s best and brightest novelists happened to publish, from gravitas-rich veterans to brilliant newcomers. It was a daunting but immensely enriching task for the panel, and we finally settled on five excellent novels.

Marguerite Poland is in scathing form in her heartbreaking tale of a young black missionary in the Eastern Cape, while Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu writes about colonialism and toxic masculinity with biting accuracy. Mark Winkler’s story is a subtle reflection on collective guilt and individual isolation, and Dawn Garisch’s portrayal of the struggle for connection is intelligently and beautifully observed. The youngest author in the line-up is Rešoketšwe Manenzhe with her engaging debut about migrancy and the destruction wreaked on a mixed-race family by the so-called Immorality Act.

FICTION AWARD SHORTLIST

Breaking Milk
Dawn Garisch (Karavan Press)

Set on a farm in the Eastern Cape, and taking place over one day, this is a finely wrought meditation on motherhood, not only in personal and human terms, but also with regards to ourselves as destructive children of the earth.

The History of Man
Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (Penguin Fiction)

A brilliant portrait of a white, male colonialist seen through the eyes of a black woman writer. Emil Coetzee was a supporting character in Ndlovu’s prize-winning predecessor The Theory of Flight, and here she places him in the centre of the story, examining the forces that created this “man of empire”.

Scatterlings
Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (Jacana Media)

Taking place more than 100 years ago, this is a highly original novel about migrancy that incorporates myth and ritual and the stories of extraordinary ordinary women. On this journey, someone will get lost, someone will give up and turn back, and someone may go all the way to the end.

A Sin of Omission
Marguerite Poland (Penguin Fiction)

A wrenching, deeply felt story about Stephen Malusi Mzamane, a young Anglican priest, trained in England but now marooned in a rundown mission in Fort Beaufort. He is battling the prejudices of colonial society, and the church itself, when he is called to his mother’s rural home to inform her of his elder brother’s death.

Due South of Copenhagen
Mark Winkler (Umuzi)

A skilled examination of memory and culpability. Max Fritz lives quietly in a small Lowveld town, the editor of the local newspaper. Seemingly contented, he is shadowed by his childhood, and by the border war he was forced to take part in. When news of a boyhood friend reaches him, the past rears up painfully.

Read all about the Fiction & Non-Fiction shortlists here:

The 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards shortlists

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, real and fictional

My mother’s garments 
never seemed to grow old.
Slack suits and twin sets
from the seventies,
woven from some synthetic
substance that did not wear
or tear, unlike the natural fibre
of her skin. My aged mother’s
delicate covering bled
every time she stumbled.
Worn out; worn to shreds.

— "Going home", Disturbance, Dawn Garisch


It has just gone six a.m. I walk my son down the road to the corner where we wait for his lift. The sun is rising, the light streaking the horizon gold. I comment on the morning buzz, the company we keep, power-walkers, the dog walkers, workers and school kids heading for the train. ‘The day carries on.’
Without you, the day must carry on.
Al says, ‘Of course, but let me remind you that you’re wearing pyjamas.’

— Death and the After Parties, Joanne Hichens


They fled with nothing, never stopping. Not even when his mother tripped, his sister, tied to her back, knocking her head so hard that a bump rose immediately. She had been crying, now she screamed. Yet still they ran, amid their own blood and spittle, as the black cloud of the burning valley hunted them, chasing them forward, forward, towards the blue sky.

— An Island, Karen Jennings


Now Shirley, you know, became a mother quite young – sixteen or something like that. She ran away from home with newborn Jason; his naeltjie at his belly hadn’t even fallen off yet. Came to Cape Town where she thought no one would find her. The Northern Cape was far.

— "Homeful", Let It Fall Where It Will, Lester Walbrugh


Lexi shrugged off her coat. She heard the rustle of beads as her mother, Sandra, came through the hippie curtain from the kitchen at the end of the long hallway. Like the town was bisected by a highway, so was their house by the passage.
‘I thought you would be asleep by now.’ Lexi feigned surprise.
‘I waited up. You’re my responsibility now.’ Her mother was in a kaftan, her hair long and loose. She looked like she’d escaped from the Mamas and the Papas.
‘Yay.’ The joys of being dumped and fleeced by her husband never ceased.

— A Fractured Land, Melissa A. Volker


I still remember my mother’s words when we got in the car to go to mass. ‘It’s Christmas, Mary, not a funeral.’ But I’ve always worn black. I would have said she was tempting providence, if that wasn’t exactly the sort of thing she would say. I should have, though. When we got home, a bunch of armed response cars were blocking the gates to the complex. The police were there. Men in bulletproof vests. Guns.

— A Hibiscus Coast, Nick Mulgrew


Not a word was exchanged between us as my mother and I made our way home. She must have seen how disappointed I was for, as soon as we walked into the house, she turned to me, demanding – ‘Where is the form?’
Puzzled, I looked at her. What use was that form now? What would she do with it? Only my father could sign it; and he had flatly refused, hadn’t he?
‘Give me the form, Thembi.’
‘Why, Mama?’
‘Letha, bo!’
My mother forged Baba’s signature.
I applied for a passport, astounded by my mother’s actions. She had shown me a side of her I didn’t suspect existed.

— Theatre Road, Sindiwe Magona


The lagoon has
forgotten us
like a son
sometimes
forgets his father

but never his mother

— "Port is red and starboard green", For Everything That Is Pointless and Perfect, Stephen Symons


But tell me this: where is his irrepressible, eternal soul? Because that is what interests me more. Where is his spirit, free of the gritty, grey residue of his body, which I have felt with my own hands? Because I, with the five senses of a woman, and undeniable sixth one 16 of a mother, cannot fathom the dimension within which my child now exists.

— "Lost", Earth to Mom, Sue Brown

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Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards 2021 longlists announced!

We are thrilled to share the news that the Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards 2021 longlists have been announced and two Karavan Press books are among the longlisted titles:

FICTION PRIZE 

This is the 20th year of the 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”.

THE JUDGES

KEN BARRIS – CHAIR

Barris is a writer, editor and former academic. His fiction has been translated into German, Danish and Turkish, and he has won various literary awards for novels, short stories and poetry. These include the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the M-Net Book Prize, the Thomas Pringle Award, the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Herman Charles Bosman Prize.

NANCY RICHARDS

Richards is an independent journalist with experience in radio and print. Founder of NPO: Woman Zone and the Women’s Library at Artscape, she’s author of Beautiful Homes and co-author of Woman Today: 50 Years of South African Women on Radio and Being a Woman in Cape Town. She is a speaker, media trainer and podcasts under Woman Zone Stories and Books Stories People on pointview.fm.

WAMUWI MBAO

Mbao is a writer and essayist. He reviews fiction for the Johannesburg Review of Books and teaches South African literature at Stellenbosch University. His short story “The Bath” was listed as one of the 20 best stories of SA’s democracy, and he has compiled and edited the poetry collection Years of Fire and Ash: South African Poems of Decolonisation.

NON-FICTION 

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”.

THE 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 more than 35 years. Her writing career began in 1975 as a reporter at The World newspaper, 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 SA’s major newspapers. She has written three books: Beyond the HeadlinesSouth 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 director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg. He is the author of The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, which won multiple awards, including the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction in 2018. Ngqulunga was educated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and at Brown University in the US, where he obtained a doctoral degree.

Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards 2021 longlists

Dawn Garisch will be reading at The Red Wheelbarrow on Thursday, 4 March, 19:30

Next week’s featured poet is Dawn Garisch.

As always, the reading by the featured poet will be followed by an open mic session for poets from the audience. Poets are welcome to read from their own work as well as from the work of a favourite poet.

Join Zoom Meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9529041131?pwd=M2VUL3RNWGMvMFZCU1Zuemt6QnU3Zz09

Date: 4 March 2021
Time: 19:30

Meeting ID: 952 904 1131
Passcode: 12345