After the incredible journey that Karen Jennings and An Island have travelled since the publication of the highly acclaimed novel, it is simply wonderful to be able to finally launch the book officially at a bookshop in the company of the author, who is now living in South Africa again. Please join us on the 24th of March at Exclusive Books for this special occasion!
Karen will be in conversation with Karina Szczurek. We look forward to seeing you there and celebrating together!
Cathy Park Kelly, Nancy Richards and Karen Jennings will be participating in the Adam Small Literary Festival in Pniel this year.
SATURDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2022
PNIEL MUSEUM TEETUIN
13.45 – 14.15: Cathy Park – Boiling a Frog Slowly: A Memoir of Love Gone Wrong
14.15 – 14.45: Nancy Richards – The Skipper's Daughter
14.45 – 15.15: Karen Jennings – An Island: Longlisted for Booker Prize
Author and academic Karen Jennings continues to shine a light on words and stories in her UCT Summer School lecture series:
ONE IS NEVER ALONE: HOW SOCIAL INSECTS HAVE SCUTTLED ACROSS THE THRESHOLD BETWEEN SCIENCE AND LITERATURE THROUGH THE AGES.
Monday 24–Friday 28 January | 5.00 pm | COURSE FEES R375 (online)/R550 (in person)
This course looks at the fascinating way in which social insects have served as a uniting force between the two cultures of science and literature over the centuries. Starting in the Middle Ages, we examine the bee’s position in allegorical, religious teaching and commentary. Next, we briefly discuss the proliferation of bee books during the scientific revolution. The second lecture focuses on the West African scientific explorations into termites by fly-catcher Henry Smeathman and the consequences this research had for the Black poor of London. The third lecture remembers Romantic poet John Clare’s poems on ants and how they bring to the fore the negative consequences imposed on nature by the demands of capitalism which dominated the period. In addition, the course considers the popularity and influence of Victorian myrmecology. The fourth lecture explores the way in which both psychoanalysis and nationalism were influential in the scientific and poetic writings of Afrikaner hero Eugene Marais. Special attention is given, too, to the man he accused of plagiarising his work on termites – Maurice Maeterlinck. The lecture also touches on the rise of pulp science fiction. Finally, we arrive at the present day and the threat of bee extinction. We consider E.O. Wilson’s call for consilience and the growing popularity of eco-fiction.
The Medieval bee and the scientific bee
Termites and slaves: Henry Smeathman
The romance of ants and a dash of Victorian myrmecology
Termites, nationalism and science fiction: Eugene Marais, Maurice Maeterlinck and David Keller
“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
Sometimes, she says, when we are afraid that our own narratives are at risk of being erased, we stop investigating history, and risk becoming stagnant in the process. That is why we have an obligation to keep on interrogating the past as fully as we are able to. If there is a lesson to be had in An Island (I hasten to add that, to the story’s credit, it doesn’t trade in easy morals), it is that this obligation never comes to an end. We cannot, like Samuel, retreat to our little enclaves of memory and build walls to keep out the world. Even those of us battling ghosts from the past — and maybe especially those of us battling ghosts from the past — need to keep our noses to the wind, to the strange new forms of relation blowing in from distant shores.
It’s tempting to imagine the island as a symbol of imperial ambitions, though the idea of Samuel, thwarted all the way by life, as an oppressor is also risible. If anything, An Island reveals the shifting sands of power and the persistence of inequality, even among the most wretched. Like her great literary forbearers—Doris Lessing, Nadine Gordimer and Coetzee—Jennings makes bold this ineradicable truth.