David Attwell reviews An Island by Karen Jennings for LitNet

Samuel’s final act is a culmination of this violence and, paradoxically, a desperate and self-destructive protest against the triumph of cruelty in the world.

An island is an ethically driven and formally accomplished novel. Those making decisions about texts to prescribe in the undergraduate curriculum might consider it. If Mark Behr’s The smell of apples was a university text of the 1990s, with its emphasis on the uncovering of apartheid-era secrets – a novel that was eminently teachable because it was ethically centred, with clear lines of development – the novel that might play a similar role for the 2020s could well be An island.

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Death and the After Parties by Joanne Hichens: an inter-review by Janet van Eeden

Joanne Hichens has been extraordinarily brave in excoriating her soul in a searing and honest memoir about her attempts to survive the unendurable. In Death and the after parties – one of the best titles I’ve heard in a while, by the way – Joanne doesn’t spare herself as she examines the brutal rites of passage which death inflicts on her life.

The first death she endures is the expected decline of her own mother, who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. While this is a difficult and heart-rending experience, she is able to process it fairly well, as the months leading up to her mother’s death are preparation for the inevitable. By the end of this process, Joanne believes she “can do death”.

Fate has other plans for her, however. The mind-numbing shock of her husband’s heart attack and almost instantaneous death destroys the very fabric of her known world. She finds herself reeling with denial, guilt, despair and total devastation as her reality is ripped asunder. Her husband, Robert, a powerful personality and energy who filled up the space in her life as well as his children’s, is gone in a matter of hours. The loss is so enormous that Joanne cannot regain her equilibrium. Unflinchingly, she describes her descent into the deep depression experienced only by the truly heartbroken …

Continue reading: An inter-review for LitNet by Janet van Eeden

LitNet: Joanne Hichens interviews Karen Jennings about AN ISLAND

I didn’t set out to write a fable – or, rather, I did not think about it explicitly in those terms – yet I believe that the description is an apt one, to a certain extent. I wanted to explore certain complexities relating to the history of the African continent and how that history continues to influence the lives of individuals to this day. Because that history is such a multifaceted one that is shared, to varying degrees, by numerous African countries, I wanted to reduce the narrative to a small location, with few characters, and by those means amplify the key concerns.

One of those concerns is examining the life of an ordinary individual. There is nothing special about Samuel. He is not heroic, intelligent, skilled or wealthy. He is very much an everyman – an everyman who has experienced aspects of colonisation, of being made to flee his home, of poverty, of the fight for independence, of torture and imprisonment under a dictatorship, and of trying to find his place in all of that chaos and horror. What does a man like Samuel have? How does he feel? What will he do in order to protect his home?

AN ISLAND by KAREN JENNINGS: AN INTERVIEW

LitNet’s Yolanda Wessels reviews Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Shadow Flicker on Muizenberg BeachShadow flicker vertel die storie van Kate Petersen wat leef vir haar werk, veral omdat haar persoonlike lewe ’n gemors is ná ’n lewensveranderende gebeurtenis. Sy vertrek na St Francisbaai in die Oos-Kaap, waar sy die boere moet oorreed om hul grond beskikbaar te stel vir die ontwikkeling van hernubare kragopwekking. Dit is haar keuse om nie haar baas in te lig dat sy terugkeer na die plek waar haar probleme ontstaan het nie – ’n tragedie wat steeds by haar spook en die oorsaak van haar paniekaanvalle is.

Hier ontmoet sy vir Dr Matthew Sykes, die dorp se veearts, wat steeds in rou is oor die ontydige dood van sy omgewingsgoedgesinde vrou. Alhoewel sy geensins beplan het om emosioneel betrokke te raak nie, ontwikkel dié twee spoedig ’n sagte plek vir mekaar. Ongelukkig is die pad nie net met rose besaai nie en behalwe vir die vyandigheid wat in die kusdorp uitbroei, word Kate die slagoffer van inwoners met verskuilde agendas…

Continue reading: LitNet

Karavan Press: A LitNet interview with founder and publisher, Karina M. Szczurek

What kind of books would you be interested in printing? And why?

Books I can be passionate about, of any genre, any length, but mainly literary fiction and non-fiction. I read extremely widely, and don’t want to box myself or Karavan Press writers and readers in. I want to nurture authors and their creativity, establish strong bonds between Karavan Press writers and readers, and offer a literary home for those who treasure words and stories. Excellence, integrity, and love for the book as an object are the cornerstones of what Karavan Press is about.

Click here to read the entire interview: LitNet